By Michael Jabri-Pickett
An hour on the table at the Zen Spa at the Beach Rotana in Abu Dhabi works wonders
A massage is not something a guy does. Perhaps a Millennial. But a man of my age (50) does not “do” massages. Despite what Barney Stinson argues (he of How I Met Your Mother fame), pedicures, manicures and massages are not my thing. Having said all that, I have been of a particular mindset the past eight months and I am embracing new experiences. Life is about growth, and change can be healthy and exciting.
All of which means that if I were to go for a massage, my first task would be to move past the preconceived notions of a spa treatment and accept that this was a potentially worthwhile experience. The proper frame of mind is essential to be open to all that is new.
I had played a lot of ice hockey this past season and I was curious about what a massage could do for me. I’m not big into touchy feely, but I thought a therapist working out some kinks might prove to be relaxing and even enjoyable. And I am pleased to report it most definitely was.
I had booked the session for a Friday afternoon. The Zen Spa is a good 20 or so steps down from the ground-floor lobby of the five-star Beach Rotana in Abu Dhabi. The lights are dimmed and the mood is immediately set. I arrived at the requested ten minutes prior to the appointment, and presented myself at the spa’s reception desk.
There were options for the type of massage and the length of the session. I went with the 60-minute active massage (but might choose the 90-minute session next time).
I was led to Amber, which was the name of the room where the session took place. Everything is geared to relax all senses: the low-playing Muzak, the foe candlelights, the warm temperature of the room. I am given a nice long white robe and the smallest pair of disposable, mesh underwear.
After a few moments, the therapist knocks and enters. As it turns out, she is Balinese and has lived in the UAE for seven years. She asks if there is any area that she should pay particular attention to or avoid. I say no, just whatever is the usual treatment.
What ensued was about as wonderfully relaxing an experience as one could hope. Everything was geared towards my comfort, from the pressure she applied, to the spots she hit. It lived up to the hype. In fact, I fell asleep twice.
After complying with her request to lie face down, she began by washing my feet. And then the message started. From the feet to cracking my back, then my shoulders. I then flipped over and she worked on my legs and my arms and hands before finishing with a crazy-wonderful head massage.
In life you run into people who are recent converts to a particular diet or an exercise regimen. They then proselytise. They want to make a convert out of you. Well, I am now a believer. I highly recommend massages.