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All That Glitters in Dubai

By: Melinda Taschetta-Millane
Posted: September 25, 2008, from the October 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Russell agrees, stressing that total wellness and well-being are key. “Anti-aging is a major focus in treatments across the board,” she says. “Clients in this region understand the benefit and outcome of anti-aging. The Middle Eastern climate can prematurely age skin, and as a result, our clients take precautions. We do find that women share their experiences, so word on new facial or body treatments travels particularly fast in Dubai.”

Senso Spa

In the United States, four out of five spas are day spas; however, it is the resort and hotel spas in Dubai that are growing at an annual rate of 16%. The city’s spa-goers also have their choice of international themes, and because Asian spas are near and dear to my heart, I was anxious to visit Senso Spa. Located in the Radisson SAS Hotel in Dubai Media City, this Asian-style facility features five treatment rooms with themes based on different countries—India, China, Japan and Indonesia, with one room for facials. The staff of 14, including four full-time therapists, work nine- to 12-hour days six days per week, which I am told is not uncommon in Dubai.

The spa’s senior therapist, Sumanda Sitharage, echoes the sentiment that spas are a growing force in Dubai. “All hotels have a spa,” he says. “It’s a great opportunity, and very popular with the guests.”

This means competition in Dubai is fierce. According to the Intelligent Spas report, the number of spa businesses is forecast to grow by approximately 34% between 2008 and 2010, based on the spa projects identified during the study’s research. In addition, many more salons and spas are stand-alones. “In Dubai, the concepts are different at all spas regarding quality and training,” says Sitharage. The Radisson SAS’s business atmosphere brings in about 40% of guests from the hotel; the other 60% is local.

“It’s hard to find qualified therapists,” says Sitharage, mentioning that Senso Spa staff trains through its supplier, Dermalogica, as well as obtaining continuing education from Cleopatra, which offers Confederation of International Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (CIBTEC) and Comité International Desthétique Et De Cosmétologie (CIDESCO) certification. “Competition is getting strong. Clients are dedicated to their therapists, so finding good therapists is key. Clients want results.”

RafflesAmrita Spa