Dubai: A buzzy metropolis of skyscrapers, shiny objects, and the world’s largest of everything. It can feel overwhelming and frantic – and perhaps the last place you’d ever think to decompress. But all of that money is poured into grand hotels, an many have marvelous spas.
Our advice: Choose a property that quells the chaos and calms the mind – a place to relax at the end of the day or simply one that you don’t want to leave (that’s perfectly okay). In January 2020, we visited a handful of Jumeirah properties in the United Arab Emirates to focus on self care. From the beautifully designed hammams to the beach to yoga, here are surprising wellness experiences at Jumeirah Hotels, ideal for a spa vacation.
Referred to as an Ottoman-inspired property, the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray lies on the west crescent of the Palm Jumeirah, an artificial archipelago. Here, rooms and suites offer ocean views and each has its own hammam-style bathroom, including a massive marble tub so you can in-room spa. On site, there’s an outdoor infinity pool overlooking the Arabian Gulf.
The spa, officially named the Talise Ottoman Spa, is palatial and cloaked in marble and decorated with dark woods, mosaics, and murals; it could almost be considered a wellness museum if there were such a thing. Case in point: The complex has 42 treatment rooms, eight hydrotherapy rooms, three Turkish hammams, along with steam rooms, saunas, and a snow room (be sure to brave it). Plus, there's a tranquil outdoor relaxation space.
The most calming of all might be the large, warm thalassotherapy pool that’s available to all hotel guests and ideal for pre-spa swims (it was never crowded on our visit). As for a treatment, if you must choose only one, make it the traditional Turkish treatment where you’ll lie on a heated stone bed, while getting a very throughout scrub-down with a “kese” mitt – followed by a foamy massage with handmade olive oil. The hamman is a way to experience a centuries-old tradition, all based on the philosophy of community – and will be different than any massage or facial you’ve ever had. (Spa facilities are of complimentary use to hotel guests.)
Read more: What to See and Do in Dubai
Start your day by taking one of the property’s abra boats to the Talise Spa (rides are complimentary for guests). It’s a great way to relax before your treatment while gliding along the calm, meandering waterways. You’ll then be dropped off directly at the facility. Here, 26 treatment rooms are housed in villas, each flanked by private meditation gardens and tranquil pools of water. Inside, there's a sauna, steam room, and hot and cold pools – where you should absolutely take the cold plunge and immediately dip into the warmth. The facility is complimentary to guests, but for an additional price, book a treatment like the hot seashell massage or a private yoga class with a resident yogi master. The property is also home to the DNA Center for Integrative Medicine, Wellness & Bio-Aesthetics, a personalized lifestyle program that offers a holistic approach to preventive wellness.
Often referred to as one of the most luxurious hotels in the world, the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah is known for its architecturally stunning and towering structure – but the spa feels almost like a secret hideaway. Here, you can see the World Islands and Downtown Dubai through the fog-proof glass of a swimming pool that floats 18 floors over the city's skyline (start thinking about your Instagram caption now!). There are separate indoor infinity pools, Jacuzzis, and treatment rooms along with steam rooms, saunas, and plunge pools – it's essentially a water oasis in the city, or desert to be more accurate. In addition, guests can use the fitness center with aerobics facility and a squash court.
Read more: Your Dubai Stopover
Bonus: Abu Dhabi's Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort
Abu Dhabi is just a 90-minute drive from Dubai, but feels a world away. We highly recommend carving out time to visit both on your trip to the UAE. The Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort offers up a seriously relaxing beach vacation – with pinch-me blue waters and soft sand. Hotel guests have complimentary access to the massive spa, where you’ll find 15 treatment rooms, a Moroccan bath, a hammam, a warm hydro pool, and cold plunge pool to alternate between. There’s also a sauna, steam room, rhassoul (bring your own body scrub), ice fountain, and an experience shower. Pro tip: Allot a few hours to linger at the spa and bring a book to relax in the salt room.