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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.

page 8 of 11

With a name inspired by James Hilton’s legendary novel Lost Horizon, The Spa at the Shangri-La Hotel in Dubai offers Asian hospitality, serenity and caring service, as its name implies.

Housed within the Spa at Shangri-La, there is a Gents Salon, an Arabic tradition;, the Hair Salon for women; and two retail stores. The ladies’ salon even has a Lebanese celebrity hairstylist on staff. The mix is about 400 outside members, as well as residents and guests, with about 47% of the clientele being men. “The health club aspect helps,” says Mike Monsod, health club and spa manager.

The women’s locker rooms have cold, hot and warm plunge pools, as well as sauna and steam—the first spa I’ve been to that has all three. But that was only the beginning of the unique features this spa has to offer. Tibetan singing bowls, which neutralize energy, as well as the client and therapist, are used before every treatment—the vibration helps both therapist and client relax. It also is used at the conclusion of each service to gently wake the client back into reality.

“Everyone is trying to do something unique—gold, diamonds, caviar,” says Monsod of the spa’s treatment philosophy. “A lot of people, however, are looking for the basics. Not everyone has time for the frills. Spa treatments need to start with the basics, then go with what the client needs. Don’t lose touch of the people you are targeting the treatment for.”

According to Monsod, Dubai is more focused on what’s happening in Europe, but gets its studies from North America. “Dubai defies everything. There is no established trend here. Everything needs to be the next best thing. It is an erratic, but excellent, place to experiment,” he says. Monsod currently is working on introducing hilot, a traditional Filipino massage, to the spa’s clientele.