A journal, inspired by my love for my daughter, that embraces quality food, service and experiences which make life worth living. In the words of Tennyson's Ulysses, " I cannot rest from travel. I will drink life to the lees." Seeking that incredible dining or hotel experience and writing about it. Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Heavenly Spa at Westin Abu Dhabi Golf resort & Spa - Abu Dhabi
The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa is one of the most beautifully designed hotels in Abu Dhabi. I have always loved the way I feel connected to the earth when I walk in. The hotel celebrates the elements - wood dominates, but there is nothing harsh about it, while air, symbolised by the vast floor to ceiling windows in numerous parts of the hotel, is evident. Also, a walk to the windows will reveal of the lushest expanse of green you can find at a hotel in the city. It is, therefore, appropriate that the hotel should boast a spa that in many ways is a continuation of the concept of warmth, earthiness and the simple.
As I enter the spa, smartly named Heavenly Spa, I notice none of the gaudy frills that one often encounters at spas here Abu Dhabi. The waiting room is functional, but it is hard not to feel connected to oneself because there are very little distractions. Wood, water and green set the tone. I am here for a Signature Heavenly Massage, and after the usual pleasantries, I am shown to the change room. Soon after, I am guided to my treatment room, one of 6 at the spa.
My therapist, through her voice, is able to do two things - she sets me at ease immediately but also allows me to have a sense of confidence in her for the next 60 minutes. She is self-assured but not arrogant and open enough to deal with any questions I may have. She shows me three stones, each with a quality written on them - Hope, Gratitude and Love. She asks me to choose one that I would like to focus on during my treatment. I choose Hope and she places it underneath the breathe hole, so that I can really connect with Hope. I love it. While other spas usually have some oil and a flower down there that offers an aromatic element, this is much more real.
As the massage starts, my therapist's communication is minimal, how it should be. At no point does Jade need to ask me if her pressure is just right. She knows, so in tune is she with my body's response to her hands. I always think that a therapist should just know. That for me is the mark of a good therapist. It is also said that a sign of a good treatment is that you drift in and out of sleep. Let's just say that I stayed more in than out.
The Signature Heavenly Massage which uses signature Westin Spa oils and is based on a Swedish massage is certainly an experience you must have. Furthermore, the fact that I had a concept, Hope, to focus on before drifting to sleep, meant that as my treatment ended, I felt hope. No, it sounds airy fairy, but it worked for me. As I readied myself for next treatment, I had Emily Dickinson on the brain and heart. And all because one word that started my session.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -
And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -
I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
Elemis BIOTEC Super Charge Facial for Men
While I am reflecting on the feeling of hope I have, my therapist for my second treatment, Tracy, walks in and introduces herself. I am very excited about my 60-minute Elemis BIOTEC Super Charge Facial for Men. Designed to target dull and sensitive skin to retard the ageing process, this facial is like nothing you have had before. Well, certainly a first for me.
In this facial, technology meets some fine ingredients to create a balance between the hands of the therapist and the helping hand of technology. Ultrasonic peeling, steam, current and oxygen come together to give a treatment that is light years ahead of competitors - it has been proved scientifically.
In using Elemis, Heavenly Spa is bringing to guests the UK's leading Spa brand that has shaken up the spa world with its balance of nature, aroma and science. Make no mistake, it is about balancing these three with the human touch still very much at the heart of this facial experience. This is where Tracy proved to be very good because I had so many questions but she was able to break her answers down so that I could understand.
Two very different treatments and two therapists who show an ability to respond to clients differently because these treatments will give rise to a very different experience, and one with more questions than the other. Just perfect.
At the end of my treatments, I am shown to the spa lounge, where in perfect low light, I have some ginger tea and dried fruit. At this time I left to reflect on what has been a surreal two hours. I have had many spa treatments in the city, but there is something special about this. Heavenly Spa could only be at The Westin. The connection between the hotel brand and the spa is manifested in the design of both, and this makes a big impact on the spa experience. It is indeed, I cannot resist this, a Heavenly Spa experience.
There are those things we aspire to in life and the luxury of first class travel will be on many mortals’ bucket list. It is an almost hallowed space on the plane, separated by that dreaded curtain, and in today’s changing flying climate, it is even more sought after as airlines cut down on first class routes.For those who love champagne, it might be a fabled label that has attained almost mythical status in your life as one to be enjoyed. Now bring together first class travel and champagne on one of the world’s finest airlines, and you have something pretty special. My recent flight on Qatar Airways’ ultra luxurious A380 in First Class to Bangkok showed that bucket lists are there to be realized. More than that, it allowed me to have some of the best champagnes available in the sky right now.
The cabin is indeed luxurious, but it is understated, calmingand soothing on the eyes. There is none of the bling that is often associated with airlines in the region. Amenities are functional, …
Brunch. We all know what a big part of expat culture it is in Abu Dhabi. Last year I had the opportunity to try a lot of brunches with the aim of honing in on the top brunches in the city. People ask how one judges a brunch because they are so diverse and it is impossible to compare a family brunch to one that is more geared towards adults. That is true to some extent, but not entirely because there are certain criteria which cross all concepts. Nowadays, value for money is a very important factor. This doe snot mean a brunch has to be cheap though! Excellent Service is one of those things that you want at a brunch regardless of the concept. Also, remember that a brunch without atmosphere is just a lunch - a big difference. Quality of ingredients and dishes and drinks are crucial too. Finally, the most important factor for me is the concept. With so many brunches morphing into one another, I looked for a brunch that will be memorable; a brunch where the concept tries to break the mo…
There is something about Q's Bar & Lounge as my guest and I walk in. There is a sophistication about the venue that also has, in the same breath, a decidedly relaxed feel. It is small and intimate, and therein lies the beauty of this place. People are gathered around the bar, while some are seated at small tables. Cool. Chic. Trendy. Chilled. These are my first impressions of Quincy Jones' bar at the luxurious Palazzo Versace Hotel in Dubai. We start off with a glass of the hotel's house champagne, the Ruinart 'R de Ruinart' Brut Champagne. It is, after all, one of those occasions that I feel I will not forget. The anticipation builds as we await the arrival on stage of multi-talented American performer Sheléa.
I remark to my guest that the bar is really a great equaliser. You have the overt opulenece that is the hotel, from the moment we walked in. But now we find ourselves in a space, while still having Versace touches like the signature cushions, just has ex…