A spa with a difference

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If you needed any proof that the wellness industry is flying high in the UAE, simply search online using the words ‘spa’ and ‘Dubai’ and feast your eyes on the dazzling array of offerings.

From boutique parlours to 5-star hotels, spas are big business, and customers are spoilt for choice. Whether you’re in need of a quick manicure or foot rub during your lunch break, a new hair-style for a special event, or a day of quiet contemplation, Dubai’s spas have it all.

The trick, it would seem, is standing out from the crowd.

But with so much already on offer, how do you position yourself as something different, without coming across as gimmicky or try-hard?

Many have tried and many have failed. Special offers, outlandish treatments, and other novelties have often fallen flat in a market whose customers demand something more than a fleeting attempt to get them through the door.

Which is where De La Mer spa may be getting things right.

The women-only day spa on Jumeirah Road only opened in February 2013, but already it has received high praise from its growing number of customers – many of whom have become regulars, making the most of its various therapies and services such as massages, facials, yoga, hair styling, manicures, make-up, and more.

It’s special ingredient is something rooted in the real world, and important to more and more women who want to take good care of their skin and general health: An organic garden.

Growing and using its own fruit and vegetables for many of its treatments, De La Mer puts an emphasis on health, using nature’s bounty as much as possible in place of factory-generated products.

Meeting and spending time with the spa’s owner, Moira Pirzad, it also became clear she was a second selling-point for the spa. A genuine people person, Pirzad has helped create a truly relaxed atmosphere that isn’t lost on even a casual visitor such as myself.

But while she seems like an old hand at running a spa, Pirzad reveals the business only came about as a mixture of circumstance, personal experience, and family background.

Explaining how De La Mer started out, she says: “Women love spas, love treatments, and everything else. I’ve certainly enjoyed going to spas, and I know how popular they are.

“My daughter was in the business too, as a therapist, so there was always that interest in it, and when my husband got closer to retirement, we had it in the back of our minds to go into business.

“We looked around for a few things, and thought of a simple spa – not as a big as we have now, but something smaller to start off with.

“Then we walked into this place. It was a spa before us, but looked very different. There was no garden – just sand. As soon as we walked in we felt it was right. We felt calm and relaxed, like we’d walked into home, which is exactly what we wanted our customers to feel.

“So we took the plunge and opened last year.”

Putting their plan into action, Pirzad and her family used outside help to organise the legal side of the business – something she describes as “vital” given the often complex and confusing licensing process for those not well versed in its nuances.

“We had somebody who helped us with the licensing. Rules don’t seem to be set for all people – you can go to three people and get three different answers to the same question. But with the help we had it wasn’t too painful a process.”

Stocking the spa was an entirely more straightforward experience, Pirzad explains. Made easy by the popularity of spas in Dubai.

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