There’s No Place Like Home

13 Aug 2012

Forget splashing the cash on far flung travel – this month, the best breaks are close to home

Wellness Programmes, Six Senses Zighy Bay
Let’s face it; when it comes to detoxing, Dubai is not the best place to be. All those brunches! All those Ladies’ nights! All those takeaways! Nope, for a serious cleanse of body and mind you need to be somewhere clear of temptation, somewhere tranquil, somewhere calm….somewhere like Six Senses Zighy Bay. Chances are you’ve already heard about this rustic enclave nestled in the Hajar Mountains of Oman’s Musandam Peninsular. Its stunning location, beautiful accommodation and escape-from-everything villagey feel has won it many an award, but now Zighy Bay is offering so much more than simple R&R with their five Wellness Programmes. Being partial to too much partying and pizza of late, I signed up for their three day Sense of Detox package - other options are Sense of De-Stress, Adventure, Oman and Functional Fitness and you can opt to do three, five or seven day stints. Each programme starts with a consultation investigating your sleeping and eating patterns, stress levels and any health issues, plus a fitness assessment where you find out how old your body really is (scary stuff!). Depending on your results the super-nice staff then plan you tailored itinerary to get you body and mind back in track – mine included personal training, a bootcamp, yoga and Petanque, which may all sound a bit too much like hard work, but it was neatly balanced out with herbal steams and spa therapies using only natural on-site ingredients. The ground coconut shell in the Detox Scrub and Cocoon banished any dead skin; the Detox Massage saw all my wobbly bits pummelled and smoothed thanks to figs and almond powder and the frankincense in my holistic massage left me feeling truly Zen. One of the best bits was the tailored diet plan (optional for all Wellness packages) using only healthy fare - think Black Angus tenderloin, pan fried tuna and lemon mousse with beetroot puree. With the healing properties of the idyllic surroundings providing the perfect backdrop, a gorgeous villa boasting my own private pool and nothing to fill any spare time but listening to the sounds of the sea, when I came to leave I felt calm, energised, rejuvenated inside and out (and very anti-pizza!).
Cost: A stay at Zighy Bay including B&B and a three day wellness programme starts at Dhs7,217. The optional diet plan starts from Dhs242 per day. Contact

Banyan Tree Desert and Beach Resorts
After a particularly hectic week at work I was in dire need of shutting off quickly and, with the Banyan Tree Al Wadi being just an hour away by car in the emirate state of Ras Al Khaimah, it meant that my plan of getting my Zen on was already in place as the sun was setting. Standing proud amid the stretches of sand, this is serious sanctuary. It’s hard to feel stressed when there’s nothing around you but miles of desert and silence. The healing powers of water have long been documented, and the resort’s spa maximises on this with their signature innovation, the Rainforest Experience. This is a hydrothermal journey that replicates a real rainforest through sounds, feelings and smells in the shape of cascading rain, an aroma steam chamber, bucket drench, ice cave and a vitality pool (to name but a few). It’s treally relaxing, yet oddly energising at the same time, and good fun too. The perfect end to all the journeying, however, is with one of the spa treatments. Needing to move my shoulders away from my ears I followed all the watery-action with the super-relaxing Essence of Earth massage which left my body achy in a nice way and my brain as if it had left the building! Feeling freshly energised I spent the rest of my time indulging in Falconry,laying by my own private pool (all of the villas boast them) and trying out the gorgeous food options in the signature Thai restaurant – if their sticky rice mango dessert doesn’t give you a sense of wellness, nothing will! Within twenty minutes of this destination, you can also find Banyan Tree Ras Al Khaimah Beach Resort, the smaller, beachy sister, that has tented villas (remember how you used to make a camp as a child?!) and bliss-inducing views over the Arabian gulf. You’ll be spoiled for choice!
Cost:  If you go before September 30, prices start from AED 1705 for two nights in an Al Rimal Deluxe Pool Villa Desert Resort. Contact for more details.

The Chedi, Muscat
There is no doubt the term “oasis” was created in Arabia. Find it driving from Dubai to the chaos and non-existent signage of Muscat and then your arrival at a modern day oasis, The Chedi.
Nestled in a beach enclave on the Gulf of Oman this member of the Leading Hotels of the World is a visual and therapeutic treat for the working gal. Be sure to pack your finest designer kaftans and fedora because once you enter the grand foyer with its wonderful arabic lanterns and cavernous tented roof your are transported to an in-vogue version of Aladdin. And yes, you are Jasmine. 
It’s worth putting the Chedi Club Suite on the Amex as you will be delighted by the separate loungeroom, the comfort of a bed fit for a Sultan and the balcony with a view. Whittle away the working week in the bath which the designers created with Cleopatra in mind because that’s how you feel whilst floating in Bulgari bath bubbles with dimmed lights.
The Arabian Courtyard at The Chedi has an array of local dishes that will delight. Overlooking The Chedi’s 320 metre private beach is The Beach Restaurant. The menu is ocean based and the chef uses delicate favours and spices letting the local fresh seafood be the star. In Arab tradition a turkish coffee and shisha enjoyed on the cushions of the Shisha Lounge is the perfect end to an evening.
A day at the Chedi is designed to allow you to create for yourself the perfect resort experience. A breakfast on your private balcony with the lastest international paper’s or magazines, a few laps in the long pool and then working on your tan in a sunny cabana is recommended. In the afternoon treat yourself to the pleasures of The Chedi Spa, the smell, the oils, the treatments and massages are all designed to relax and reinvigorate. After your treatment, retire to the spa lounge overlooking the sea for an Arabian sunset.
The Chedi has an enviable international reputation for relaxation. If you are hard at work and making holiday plans it’s recommended as the new definition of “Oasis”.
Cost: A stay at The Chedi starts from Dhs1,900 for a double per night.


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