“Our body is precious. It is our vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care.” Buddha
Our trip to Thailand earlier this year has augmented my love of Thai massage so predictably it was my first preference when offered the opportunity to review a treatment at the Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi. Although there’s no actual dedicated spa facility the hotel does offer a wide range of massage treatments, rituals and body scrubs for both men and women from its four treatment rooms located within its fitness centre
Crowne Fitness is exactly what you expect from a typical hotel fitness facility, a large space that provides guests with a fully equipped gym that’s open 24/7. Its elevated position and floor-to ceiling windows give guests a splendid panoramic view of downtown Abu Dhabi whilst working out on the various bikes and treadmills. The treatment rooms are grouped together in a tiled mosaic area along with steam and sauna facilities, the floor above houses the rooftop 18-metre swimming pool and a whirlpool overlooking the city.
The Experience ~ I was booked in for a 60 minute signature Thai massage with Tina who hails from Northern Thailand, a traditional Thai statue surrounded by candles and scattered frangipani flowers set the Thai ambiance. Unlike most treatments I have experienced the expected rituals were omitted, there was no pre-treatment foot washing, there was no relaxing music, no choice of oil, no fluffy robe or slippers and no post treatment tea and nibbles. However nice these things are they can be incidental, it’s not always about the place where you come to spend time being pampered and relaxing pre and post treatment, the essence of this experience is the treatment itself.
Clothes discarded and disposable paper underwear in situ it was time to begin my Thai treatment, Tina wasted no time joining me on the treatment bed and getting stuck into my tense knotty neck and shoulders with her hands, elbows and forearms, using her own bodyweight to intensify the pressure. Using her skillful techniques she crawled up my back and cracked out all the knots in my shoulders, releasing all the stress I carry in those areas using intense pressure which I had to request was downgraded to medium/soft to alleviate any embarrassing whimpering.
Now things took a turn for the more unusual when Tina discarded her shoes and socks and preceded to use her feet to massage my legs, this was new to me and I was unsure how I felt about this but decided to go with the flow. This more creative part of the treatment massaged much deeper and manipulated my legs into various stretching positions, Tina likened it to a cross between massage and yoga and while it was a little disturbing initially it actually felt really good during and after. I was Intrigued so later googled this barefoot technique and discovered it’s part of Ashiatsu (originating from Japanese, ashi for foot and atsu for pressure) Massage that’s popular throughout Asia. Use of the feet allows the therapist to apply deeper pressure to eliminate toxins from muscles and increases the circulation of blood into the body’s deep tissues. This helps speed up the healing of damaged or sore muscles which is good as I had the massage straight after finishing a Reformer Pilates class.
Thai massage stretches you with specific, assisted yoga poses and uses techniques that focus on energy points called ‘sen’. As the therapist stretches you they also press and massages along the sen lines or points. Thai massage is particularly invigorating as along with the deep full-body massage and energy focus it’s also designed to stimulate the body’s blood flow, it’s as much about overall well being as it is about the massaging of individual muscles. Tina went through a series of stretching poses including among others the Cobra, Back Press and Bridge pose that stretched my lower, middle and upper back while opening my chest and shoulder areas.
Along with the unorthodox start to proceedings and the barefoot element of the massage other more unusual aspects were frequent chatter as opposed to the usual zen like silence, flying in the air (Bridge Pose) as my lower back was cracked and being unable to get to the bottom of what product was being used, it just mixed oil ma’am was the best explanation I got.
The results ~ I felt fully re-energised and my whole body was knot free, my sore muscles were fully stretched and my body was elongated. The yoga-like stretches and deep continuous strokes relieved all my tension.
Pros ~ An intense massage and an overall fuss free experience. My therapist was obviously very skillful and well practiced and all the Crowne Fitness treatments are competitively priced.
Cons ~ This is not rounded ‘spa’ experience but more a really good purposeful massage. If you don’t like feet touching you this element of the treatment may be off putting. The treatment room’s ensuite bathroom has a sink and shower but no toilet so you have to leave the room to visit the nearby changing rooms which is not ideal.
Location: Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Street, Abu Dhabi
Telephone : 02 616 6261
Crowne Fitness Opening Hours: 10:00am-11:00pm
A range of Massages, Rituals, Body Exfoliations and Spa Packages are available
Thank you Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi for the opportunity to review this treatment. The views in this post are all my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated all photos © Jo Brett 2016. All rights reserved.
Read more about the Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi in my previous post Review: Cheese & Wine Night, Spaccanapoli Ristorante