By Meera Ravi » Boomtime Bahrain is taking its beauty seriously. Even as megabuck deals are inked and buildings spring up everywhere, kissing the skies and hugging newly-defined coastlines, people are making time to rejuvenate themselves in the soul-pleasing and luxurious surroundings of the lovely spas that now dot the kingdom.
The prolific pace of spa openings has inspired equally eloquent spa treatment menus, elaborate facilities and fresh ways of making you feel whole again.
The recent opening of all-villa luxury resort spa Banyan Tree Al Areen – the biggest in the Middle East – has put an exclamation point on the latest trend to capture the imagination of people in the region.
It is the third major spa Bahrain can enjoy, apart from other smaller ones. The trend-setter and one of the best-known spas in the kingdom is the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Spa, a premier resort facility, while the all-new Diplomat Hotel Spa is planned as the largest hotel spa in Bahrain with 17 treatment spa rooms (six for men and 11 for ladies), an indoor relaxation pool for ladies and three outdoor swim pools for the family.
Banyan Tree Al Areen, seated in calm splendour in the golden desert surroundings of Al Areen, is a pleasant 20-minute drive away from the harried bustle of everyday city life.
As in all spas, the core treatments offered are based on time-honoured Asian traditions that combine a holistic approach to physical and spiritual well-being with the use of aromatic oils, herbs and spices. What makes Banyan Tree Al Areen unique is the fusing of extensive aromatherapy know-how of Arabia with skilled massage techniques of the Far East.
The spa has 12 luxurious pavilions each nestled within its own private tranquil garden. The pavilions surround a grand garden courtyard with statuesque fountains and majestic palms.
Undoubtedly, the Banyan Tree Spa Hydrothermal Garden should be the highpoint of your visit. A haven of serenity, guests can enjoy the therapeutic qualities of an extensive range of hydrothermal facilities here. Consisting of nine different hydrotherapy stations such as Rainmist Shower, Monsoon Shower Experience, Ice Igloo and Brine Cavern, the hydrotherapy menu also offers specific treatments such as Aqua Jets Seats for Legs and Arms or separately for the Back, Waterfalls for the Neck and Shoulder and Bubble Air beds for relaxation.
In the Garden Hammam, said to be the world’s first, the Middle Eastern water therapy traditions truly come into their own. Set in a sprawling garden of fountains, streams and waterfalls, guests will enjoy innovative hammam spa therapy that was created by fusing the best of oriental wellness philosophy with the essence of an Arabian hammam experience.
Spa and massage treatments are based on evolving techniques that have passed through the hands of many generations using aromatic oils, herbs and spices with ancient rejuvenating powers. The journey of peace and wellness continues with a relaxing rest time in the water garden after a hammam session.
The Banyan Tree Al Areen Spa also has a well-equipped health club and a Beauty Spa offering health and fitness programmes and beauty treatment. Personal health club trainers here can also design customised fitness and wellness programs to meet guests’ individual needs and objectives.
At the Ritz-Carlton, facilities include everything a spa-goer could imagine, with emphasis on cooling water features throughout the building that prepare the guests for a soothing treatment.
Nestled against the backdrop of surprising lush greenery, the Ritz-Carlton Spa offers a fabulous range of body treatments and intensive beauty packages that zero in on specific zones – the face, skin management and cellulite control, for example.
At the Diplomat Hotel Spa, 20 skilled Thai therapists will form the core of the treatment team that will focus on Thai massage and treatment packages augmented by European beauty treatment such as microdermabrasion and anti-ageing.
“Hotels are no longer just about rooms and business guests. In the continuous re-invention of the industry, hotels have found that a top-of-the-line spa attracts new visitors who spend time and money on the hotel’s facilities,” explained Diplomat Spa Manager Lotfi Hamrouni.
The Diplomat Hotel Spa also has extensive water treatment facilities including hydrotherapy pools, rejuvenation packages, Vichy showers and water jet massages.
Balancing the chi of the spa movement as it were, are two luxury day spas – the Jacques Dessange Spa in Adliya which oozes French attention to the body beautiful and la fontaine, just off Gudaibiya, which is a unique combination of luxury restaurant, contemporary art centre and spa!
Located in a beautifully restored old Bahraini house, la fontaine bills itself as “the most original spa in the Gulf” and acts as a distinctive and extraordinary oasis hidden away from the deafening anxiety and stress of everyday life. The spa provides an atmosphere that can be enjoyed individually or with friends, and can be a haven for the stressed and over-worked.
The whole concept of this wonderfully designed spa is serenity. Serenity is captured in total harmony: the shapes, materials, colours, and aromas all express a new dimension of “tranquility” and “invisibility” of the soul. At la fontaine, the primary focus is on regaining and maintaining balance – mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual – by using natural treatments for the face, such as Vitamin Facial, Seaweed Facial, and Anti-Pigmentation (using natural fruit acids), and signature body treatments like Hot Stone Therapy, Underwater Massage, Water Jet Massage, Milk & Honey Body Wrap and Permanent Hair Removal (using natural fruit enzymes).
The Jacques Dessange Spa offers specialized dermatology treatment for laser hair removal and extensive hair and beauty treatments in addition to spa packages to soothe your body. There is the full day Bliss package to rest and recharge you; the New Era pre-wedding package for nervous brides which is done in a series over a few days, a Chill Out package that includes a milk bath, a lime and ginger salt glow scrub, hot stones massage, facial and hair care.
“Our therapists are extremely well-trained and training is an ongoing process with experts regularly dropping in or our girls flying out to Paris or Lebanon for updates,” said Spa Director Louise Moy in hushed tones, as she guided me through the beautifully kept therapy rooms of the Spa. The atmosphere vibrated with a serene quiet and she says clients who fall asleep during treatment are woken up by the gentle sound of Tibetan cymbals being struck against each other “…to clear the negative energy and restore positivity.”
You can often take a slice of your spa experience back home by buying a treatment oil or facial mask or even the cymbals as a takeaway gift from the retail section.
So fit in a spa experience into your busy, busy life and watch yourself bloom!