If I were to give an adjective for the various features at Anantara Spa at the Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa Abu Dhabi, it would go something like this:
Furnishing – Bespoke
Ambience – Quiet
Treatment – Rejuvenative
Therapist – Serene
Interiors – Mystical
Products – Invigorative
Walkways – Mysterious
Experience – Awakening
Anantara has a reputation for creating experiences that will linger in your mind and senses for a long time. As any other quality brand, this one too does not fail to impress and reinstate every single time about why it remains such a hot favourite in the travel circuit.
Entering the spa was like entering a Buddhist temple, where you hear a constant hum in the air although you cannot see the source and where the smell of lighted incense welcomes you into a sanctuary.
So poetic, you may think. After two hours of absolute stillness, and having all your creased muscles ironed out, rational thinking is the last thing on your mind or on your lips.
Literature aside, here is why I enjoyed my experience thoroughly.
The Spa is located in the 5th floor of the hotel. Unless you follow the signs, you may get a little lost as it is tucked away in a corner, next to the gym and fitness center.
As you walk into the Spa, you will pass a stand of paraphernalia that you usually find at such facilities. A couch with a water feature next to it stands isolate in a corner. This felt like an unnecessary addition because it is unlikely you would choose to wait at an odd nook when you have other more entertaining options.
You enter into a small retail space before reaching the reception desk. There are shelves of beauty and wellness products on three walls which will easily distract you from your mission.
While you scan the products, the staff wait patiently – clearly used to this distraction.
After the window shopping, I was directed into another reception area and asked to take a seat in front of a desk. This one was more sophisticated – in design and appearance. There was an intriguing lighting installation just above the desk, shaped like a wave. The lights changed colours constantly.
Opposite this desk is a lone seat – very regal-looking. It was more stylish than functional, so I liked it.
I filled in the form in earnest and allowed the therapist to guide me to the massage room.
There was a mysterious aura about her, like a shy priestess in a hilltop Tibetan temple.
The treatment room, one of 15 (including 3 couple suites and 12 single rooms), was dimly lit and she left the room for me to change.
A table near the changing room had a stack of blue and white bottles of Elemis products lined up neatly. Other products that the spa uses are Shiffa, the signature Anantara Spa product range and advance skin care line, !QMS med cosmetics.
This room also had an intriguing chandelier, designed in swirls.
The traditional Thai massage followed. I was soon lulled into deep slumber and woken up two hours later once the massage was completed.
A traditional Thai massage uses three ancient healing systems – acupuncture, Ayurveda and yoga. The therapist climbs on your back in well-balanced yoga postures and applies pressure as in acupuncture. This massage does not use oils. There is no direct contact to skin, but instead the therapist rubs the muscles, compresses different spots on the body, stretches and pull the arms and rocks the body.
Traditionally, a massage practitioner had to complete 800 hours in training. I am not sure if this calculation still holds true, but I can vouch my therapist could definitely have gone through that to build the skill she so deftly displayed.
I felt bad at first that it had ended so soon (well, not technically), but soon recovered and sighed in gratitude at how great I was feeling.
If you are not too charmed by the idea of a rigorous stretching exercise in a Thai massage, then you could perhaps try the traditional Turkish Hammam or maybe the Elemis Pro Collagen Quartz Lift Facial.
I walked out feeling like a free bird, and navigated through the labyrinth of a narrow hallway, back to my room. On the way, I dropped into the fitness centre to awe at the well-equipped facility that would lure even a hard nut like me to burn some energy. But that would be for another time, because traditionally after a long, deep massage, you must rest your body. And I had just that on my agenda.
Where: Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara
Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates
Phone: +971 2 656 1000
Note – The critic was invited by Anantara Eastern Mangroves, Abu Dhabi. But all the opinions expressed herewith are her own.