The Jiva Spa concept draws inspiration from Indian wellness philosophies, and this its first outpost in Dubai. Taj Dubai is housed in a Business Bay high-rise, and within the hotel, the spa is tucked away alongside a popular restaurant. What this means is – the loud lounge music from next door filters through, not really making for a spa-like environment conducive to relaxation. Luckily, after the welcome cup of tea and mandatory form filling up, guests are led upstairs through a narrow wooden staircase to where the treatment rooms and wet areas are located; it is a lot less noisy here.
After that slightly bumpy start to my experience, things started looking up. The contemporary decor is soothing, featuring muted earth tones. Accents such as brass lamps and inlaid artefacts, and a delicate floral motif that recurs across all the soft furnishings, add an Indian touch.
My treatment, a signature aromatherapy massage, was called Orja-Dayaka – an energising therapy that promised to tackle deep-seated aches, something my weary, long-neglected body was in crying need of! The treatment starts with a foot bath using natural oils, where my smiling therapist introduces the concept of ‘Atithi devo bhava’ (Guest is God). Personally, I think the increasingly popular protocol of washing the feet pre-treatment is as much about hygiene as it is about pampering; but hey, it serves a double purpose, and it does feel rather ‘royal’, so why not?
Using Jiva Spa’s own-brand blend of essential oils – in this case eucalyptus, mint, patchouli, ashwagandha (an Ayurvedic herb also known as Indian ginseng), and tulsi (holy basil) – the hour-long massage is utterly relaxing. Alongside strong, powerful strokes, the treatment included some unique pinching strokes that were surprisingly effective. My therapist was extremely intuitive, knowing exactly where to focus and, true to promise, she teased out some forgotten aches and muscular knots.
Another unique touch was the end-of-treatment ritual – a first for me – in which I was garlanded with a necklace of wooden beads, as a thank you gesture. I rounded off my urban unwind with another cup of the delicious herbal tea (a mix of tulsi, jaggery and lemon) and a copy of the Taj magazine. It was a luxurious experience from start to finish, and I found myself in a relaxed stupor for the rest of the day, but feeling revitalised the morning after. In my book, that’s a win. If only they’d do something about that noisy neighbour now!