Relax, refresh, revitalise, rejuvenate, renew… who would not get tempted to opt for one or the other of these exotic treatments that most spas offer? From the use of known ingredients like oils, flowers, mud wrap, yoghurt and honey to more exotic treatments using volcanic clay, seaweed, caviar and algae, spa menus by various hotels and resorts have come a long way from that of the 80s where spa treatments were usually just an option of massages.
So much so that now, spa resorts have become a destination in themselves.
In Oman, spas are usually associated with hotel properties. The first GHM Hotel outside of Asia, The Chedi Muscat, offers a comprehensive spa menu that varies from body massages and wraps to foot therapy, facials and seaweed treatments to name a few. A typical three-hour Chedi Indulgence will include Aromatherapy foot polish, Chedi massage, all natural facial, traditional body scrub, skin conditioner and floral bath. Incidentally, the Hotel achieved ninth place in the Overseas Hotel Spas: Africa, Middle East & Indian Ocean category of the Conde Nast Traveller magazine’s Readers’ Spa Awards 2005 in February.
The new Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa that is scheduled to open in Muscat later this year is set to introduce a completely new spa concept in the Middle East. The CHI Spa embraces a Tibetan wellness philosophy of the five elements (earth, fire, water, metal and wood) along with Himalayan therapies. The CHI Spa Village offers spacious spa suites placing a lot of importance on personal privacy. There will be 12 treatment villas eight of which will be doubles, and four singles. Each will have private bathrooms and vanity areas, showers, baths and relaxation areas. The interior design will reflect the overall CHI concept with emphasis on the mysticism of Shangri-La and the luxury of personal space and timelessness.
Most of the other hotels offer different type of massages of which the Al Bustan Palace InterContinental Muscat offers the most comprehensive list that includes reflexology, Balinese massage, Thai massage, Swedish massage, Chinese massage and foot spa.
The only spa in Muscat that is not affiliated to a five-star property is Ayana Slim Spa. However Mae Ballout, who looks after the beauty and spa section of Ayana, is quick to point out the difference between a beauty salon and a spa. The latter adopts a holistic approach providing the customer with not only a beauty treatment but a relaxing atmosphere as well where people connect with their own bodies and emerge calm and relaxed, and energised.