Health spas

Healthy holidays

In this hectically fast-paced global village, spa resorts are becoming increasingly fashionable as more people seek vacations where they can quickly unwind and be pampered with exotic treatments to calm and cleanse the mind and body. Middle East Health looks at what some of the world’s most exclusive resort spas have to offer.

It is perhaps not often that visitors to spas ponder their history, which is as old as civilisation itself.

Spas date back to ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece. But it was during the height of the Roman Empire that they flourished and it is here that the word spa is thought to have originated. Some sources claim that the word spa originates from the Latin “salus per aquam” which means “health from water”.

During Roman times a visit to the spa bath would last several hours and include exercise, bathing and socialising. Roman baths were very social places with gymnasiums, gardens, libraries and restaurants. They were ornately decorated with high vaulted ceilings and exquisite mosaics. The finest marble was used for the baths.

Since Roman times the popularity of spas has risen and fallen. During 16th- Century Europe they were regarded highly as places of healing and recuperation. People flocked to hot springs and mineral baths to seek treatments and cures for ailments and diseases.

As technology has progressed so too have the number and type of spas with the result that nowadays there are all sorts of places purporting to be spas, in some case they are not much more than a nail bar or hair salon.

Along with this development has been a dizzying growth in the array of treatments. Combine this with the ease of travel and the development of resorts in wonderfully exotic locations and the result is a massive modern resurgence in the popularity of spas.

It is best to focus on those places calling themselves either destination spas and spa resorts as they are most likely to offer the genuine product. And there is certainly no shortage of them.

A genuine spa should offer four things: mind and body fitness, healthy eating, relaxation and treatments.

Massages are the most popular treatments. They help to revitalise tired muscles and rid the mind of stress. Second is the European facial, which involves skin analysis, deep cleansing, massage, “extractions” (removal of blackheads and whiteheads), toning and moisturising.

Body treatments are essentially facials for the whole body. The most popular body treatment is the body scrub, an exfoliating treatment where the outermost layer of dead skin cells are rubbed off leaving your skin feeling velvety soft. The body scrub is often combined with a detoxifying or hydrating treatment. Products like mud, algae or seaweed are detoxifying because they stimulate the body’s blood circulation and lymphatic system, facilitating the body’s own ability to carry away waste products. Rich cream or oil softens and conditions, or hydrates, the skin.

But, perhaps more than the body-cleansing treatments, it is the relaxation and settling of the mind that appeals most to the stressed city worker and is the main reason behind the recent phenomenal growth of these havens of rejuvenation..
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