From the moment you step into the peaceful serenity of the JW Marriott’s Mandara Spa, your senses are in for a treat. The soothing and almost musical sounds of trickling water, the fresh whiff of lemon grass and the friendly smile of the Thai receptionist are all designed to steal you away from the hectic congestion of downtown Cairo.
Settled into the comfortable chair at the reception desk, I tried to decide how I wanted to be pampered as I flipped through a variety of facials, hammams, body treatments and therapeutic massages advertised in the spa booklet.
Hoping to shake off a long week and an unpleasant encounter with the traffic police on my way to the hotel, I opted for a therapeutic massage, but even then I needed the help of the receptionist to choose among a wealth of tempting options ranging from the Traditional Thai Massage to the Aroma Hot Stone Therapy.
Once I had finally settled on a 90-minute Aromatic Massage, I lay back in my chair inhaling the sweet scent of my complimentary warm lemon tea while the receptionist asked if there was an area of the body I would like the masseuse to focus on.
A few moments later, my therapist arrived to lead me down a circular enclosure to the room which was to be my haven for the next two hours. It consisted of a shower, a small changing room equipped with a closet, two robes, two pairs of slippers, disposable underwear and body lotion, and a larger area with two massage tables.
After waiting patiently for me to change, my therapist led me to a comfortable chair where a bowl of warm water and a foot ritual awaited me.
Slipping my feet into the water and leaning back into the chair, I was already beginning to relax as she gently massaged my feet.
Next came the body massage, which included massaging the back, shoulders, legs, stomach, arms and even the face. While applying a combination of oil extracts from plants, flowers, fruits and bark, the therapist used a variety of medium-pressure strokes using her palms and fingers to alleviate stress and muscle tension.
As I put my head down on the face rest, I was greeted with two large flowers, yellow and white, floating in a bowl of water on the floor, yet another happy reminder that my only job was to relax. I soon began to close my eyes as the combination of the dim lighting, the soft music, the smell of almond oil and the relaxing effect of the massage began to lull me into an obscure haze between consciousness and sleep.
The only disappointing part of the treatment was when, an hour and a half later, the Thai therapist cheerfully said, “treatment is now complete.
Though the Aromatic Massage will put a LE 650 (excluding taxes) dent in your wallet, you will emerge feeling light, smooth and relaxed. Driving home after my treatment, I was still smiling as the scent of almonds and lemon grass lingered in my nose.