Luxuriate with Spa treatments at Anantara Resort Jabal Akhdar
July 12, 2017 | 5:14 PM
by Antara Bose
Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort - Spa Entrance

ittle did the rocky, raw and uncharted valleys of the Al Hajar Mountains imagine that maybe some few decades later, its inherently loving arms would be welcoming travellers from far and wide with utmost magnificence. Jabal Akhdar saw a mystifying metamorphosis. It is now a destination, as we call it; a destination that has alluring (and totally sellable) phrases like ‘luxury escape’, ‘rejuvenation’ and ’adrenaline-seeking adventure’ associated to it. Deducing from the history books, (it’s a shame we never got to say ‘scrolls’) it turns out Jabal Akhdar skipped receiving celebrities to begin with and went straight to hosting royalty. Back in 1986, Prince Charles and Lady Diana were said to have camped at a spectacular spot overlooking a view that had a distinct resemblance to the Grand Canyon. And the rest as we say is history. But this very spot, years later, formed one of the most iconic vantage points in Jabal Akhdar. ‘Diana’s Point’, is now part of one of the most exotic resorts in the world – the Anantara Resort Jabal Akhdar. Holding the record for being the highest five star resort in the Middle East and ranking at an equally commendable position worldwide, the intimate luxury, breathtaking views and an array of activities to choose from in and around its premises, has allowed Anantara to carve its own exclusive niche on a cliff that overlooks some of the most picturesque settings. On that note, I understand the logic of the strategically placed drawing canvas adjacent to the French window in my Anantara Cliff View villa. A private infinity pool, the warm orange glow of the setting sun and the distant shadows that danced off the terraced mountainous slopes - the view could stir the creative juices in the minds of even the most uninspired artist (and in my case amateur). I was pretty certain that if I was as much as an artist as a writer, I would have sketched an award-winning replica of my view right there. And suddenly, all those fancy descriptions started falling into place. In the heart of this spectacular property (though I could have easily gotten my centre wrong, thanks to the resort spreading its reach pretty generously), resides the haven of rejuvenation – the Anantara Spa. Though I had almost missed the most blossoming part of the rose season, there was probably enough extracts to endow me with another one of their famed Rose Rescue Ritual spa therapy. This 90 minute session involved a full body and head massage along with a facial. What else could a girl ask for. Drawing inspiration from the age old practices of Jabal Akhdar, the reception artistically showed off a design that sophisticatedly replicated the natural irrigation system found in the mountains. The place had a very calming, almost dreamy vibe to it and I instantly took a liking to the smiling staff who greeted me in that familiar soft, almost ‘hush’ voice. The Anantara spa has an exclusive Hammam suite, Jacuzzis, steam and sauna rooms. The steam rooms are however, not just your ordinary steam rooms. Infused with pink Himalayan salt, it is believed that inhaling this would help to detoxify the lungs and even boost immunity – something that was worth a try. The relaxation rooms and garden areas on both sides promised to offer nothing but serenity. The ladies had a bonus of a private pool at their disposal too. The most interesting thing was probably the Experience Shower that is quite unique and found in only a few resorts worldwide. The components of water, light and sound come into play to show you how a simple shower could become an experience to remember. Now fairly comfortable with the staff double-checking my name with a raised brow, I joked with them on how I was therefore the ‘chosen one’. The well-humoured supervisor who had initially shown me around the spa, now brought out his hospitable side and served me an elixir which I was advised to add rosebuds to (making sure I didn’t toss in the stem). It was like one of those exotic salubrious drinks that seems strange at first and then eventually grows on you. I sipped-away as my therapy room was readied. I had been told that my masseuse had magic in her hands and I openly accepted the challenge of not falling asleep as she got on to doing what she does best. In just a couple of minutes, a beaming masseuse from Mizoram came and ushered me to the changing room. Excited to begin, I’m certain I wouldn’t have taken more than a minute and a half to change as I followed my therapist past the rather well-equipped relaxation room (which I could make use of later) to my very own chamber. The journey to utmost bliss had begun. As I settled on a comfortable couch, my masseuse brought in a bowl (not to drink from this time) and handed me a music menu. It is said that music can really influence your emotions. A session which promised to address every aspect of your well-being, I marvelled at their thoughtfulness. I let my feet soak in the bowl, the constituents of which I was told were purely milk and honey. I must admit, the thought of Cleopatra did cross my mind. After gently dabbing my feet clean, she let a few quick squirts of a peppermint spray tingle my sole (no pun intended) and it seemed to bring upon an immediate freshness. As the lights were dimmed according to my liking, I lay down on the massage bed, ready for the challenge. I was thus introduced to the therapeutic properties of the Damascus rose. This variety is the preferred one as they are said to be the most fragrant and are also believed to be the original red roses with the strongest aroma and the highest oil content. The Jabal Akhdar Mountains are blessed with acres and acres of Damascus roses when the season sets. And that is where my oil came from. I instantly knew what they meant by ‘most fragrant’ as the distinctly sweet smell of roses wafted through the entire room – an aromatherapy in itself. Well-versed with her area of expertise and unfailingly intuitive, my masseuse started with just the right pressure on the sole of my foot and with gentle kneading motions of her thumbs, fingers, palms and forearms, she moved up, tending to one sore muscle after another. Inhaling rose scents is said to reduce anxiety and stimulate a feel-good hormone that works to de-stress the mind. While the fragrance from the rose oil had already started inducing an indescribable calm, the massage was helping to release all the tension from my muscles and I could feel every inch of my skin absorb the healing properties of this essential oil. Wrapping my body in a towel to let the oil soak-in, the time had come for my facial. We started with a round of thorough cleansing with a cleanser made with rose petals and geranium. Geranium blends symbiotically well with rose and the two ingredients together work as an excellent astringent to prep the skin and prevent wrinkles. Rich in anti-oxidants, this concoction is therefore popular for its anti-ageing properties. It also helps to fade skin imperfections like scars, dark spots, and even stubborn pox marks by stimulating blood circulation. Followed by this was an apricot toner to soothe any irritation. The toner was generously used in between each change of product to maintain the pH level of the skin. A gentle but thorough rose exfoliation followed and I was told that it was done to eliminate dead skin cells and reveal a more refined, soft and clear skin (a skin I would be obsessing over later in the evening). As the papaya face mask was slathered on and allowed to set, I waited for my favourite part – the head massage. A popular Indian way of treating headaches while nourishing the scalp, the head massage with just a wee bit of coconut oil (the sweet smelling one) was working very well to ensure I lose the bet miserably. The session finished with another round of toning and some jasmine infused moisturisers. Jasmine, another ingredient that is commonly used with rose was the final touch for a beautifully glowing skin. As the bell clinked marking the end of the blissful journey, I waited for a few seconds to absorb the calmness that I was surrounded with – both mentally and physically. We’ve often been advised to abstain from vain remarks about thy own self, but considering this an extol of a spa that truly demands it, I have to say that I couldn’t help but constantly admire what a supple, radiant rosiness my cheeks had acquired in just one session. Back in my room, while I debated whether it was the scrubs, masks and oils that was making my skin look visibly fairer (sigh, our endless obsession with skin lightening) or there was some other miraculous, secret ingredients at work that had countered the tan from a former day of hiking, the truly well-laid out tub with some interesting options on the bath caddy beckoned me for a quick soak. I once again admired the attention to detail while I picked my Patchouli fragrant bath soap from the soap menu and drew myself a nice warm bubble bath with bath salts and rose petals (a tribute to the season) to add to the fanciness – a self-made aromatic bath ritual, if I may call it. The shower mimicked the fall of natural rain and it felt like the space was designed to feel as close to nature as possible. Though private, the glass door and window that opened into a small courtyard allowed a strange sense of openness. While reminiscing the ritual, the sweet smell of rose still lingering around, I slid open the window in my bedroom to let in the crisp, cool mountain breeze. It brought along with it the distant sounds of rustling leaves, the soothing stillness from the mountains where night had fallen and that distinct feeling of utmost liberation from within. And that’s exactly what an Anantara experience offers – limitlessness. A name derived from ancient Sanskrit which signifies ‘without end’, Anantara emphasizes on ‘freedom, movement and harmony’. Having lived this entire experience in person, I would only say that they had done due justice to their name. [email protected]

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