Dubai a decade ago was a very different place. Al Barsha was sand and scaffolding, out of which arose giant shopping haven Mall of the Emirates and luxe hotel the Kempinski.
Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates marks its 10th anniversary this month and wants us all to celebrate with what it’s Softouch Spa does best – pampering.
Throughout April you can indulge with a whole 150 minutes of relaxation – that’s just a little bit longer than decade-spanning weepie Forrest Gump – plus a free 30-minute salon treatment.
We’d rather be rubbed down than (plot spoiler) watch Tom Hank’s childhood sweetheart die, so we book in for 2.5 hours of ‘us time’.
Like the hotel, the Kempinski’s spa is elegant and moodily lit, with the familiar nod to Far Eastern themes. Outside the shopping centre is throbbing with people, but inside Softouch the volume and the pace of life is turned down.
Our massage takes place in what looks like a princess’ dressing room, dominated by a huge mirror reflecting assorted scarlet knick knacks and scattered rose petals.
Softouch smells amazing – like posh lemons – and we’re invited to add to the bouquet by choosing from lavender, jasmine or lemongrass essential oils.
Our trip to destination chill starts with a hot stone therapy session, using the deep heat of volcanic balsat rocks to smooth out knotted muscles. Our therapist gets the pressure just right, and our back obliging cracks under her hands.
We feel more than our cares draining away during the firm facial rub – sounds gross, but it really works away puffy areas and it’s worth it afterwards, when we check out our more defined features.
From head to toe – natural therapists believe that there are areas on the feet the “reflex” on the body, hence reflexology. Our reflex to even the most innocent foot touch is “extreme laugher”, but we’re so blissed out that a short and soothing session doesn’t raise even a giggle.
Finally, our face is attended to again with a VIP combination of black caviar and argan oil (“black gold,” our therapist notes). The natural ingredients sink into our skin and we’re pleased to note there’s not a hint of fishiness, while we’re left to snooze once more.
Reluctantly released from our boudoir, we finish up with a 30-minute salon treatment and go for eyebrow threading – as we can barely keep our eyes open, they should be well framed.
Taken individually, all our treatments would last for longer but tot up to more than AED 2,000, so we’ll feel it’s pretty good value for a top-to-toe de-stress in refined surroundings.
Need to know – Softouch is open 24 hours, because it’s never too late for a back rub.