THE TRAVEL CONNOISSEUR
The weary world traveller looks for a healthy escape and finds it in the most unusual of places
The Travel Connoisseur is not a great fan of New Year resolutions. All the “New Year, new me” promises seemed to be well forgotten just a few weeks into January. Instead, he did his best to embark on a proper detox every other week throughout the year. This idyllic lifestyle, however, inevitably met its demise around Tuesday, with a fervent promise to restart with a fresh effort the next week. Or, the week after that. He finally concluded that the only way to go back to a healthy life and eliminate years of toxins was a proper cleansing escape somewhere dizzyingly expensive and notoriously results-driven, where 11am was definitely not the new aperitivo hour.
Which was how TTC once found himself at a remote spa resort, famed for its herb-based regime that purified the body from the inside out. During the first few days of his programme, his mortal body was pummelled and prodded, rolled and wrapped like a giant California roll. Every six hours he was given a small bowl of tepid green bouillon – the only “food” ingested for the first several days of this serious fat-busting detox… and the single best reason to get straight back on a plane home again. Worried he himself would turn a murky shade of green after all those wheatgrass shots and the endless colonic hydration, he hastily made a break from the clinic and its obsessive spa programme. Back home, his gym membership went to waste in favour of a much more indulgent culinary and social programme.
Yet a few weeks in, he was feeling done in again. He grumpily blamed his work schedule for the multicourse social dinners and late nightcaps – and resultant sleepless nights and heavy mornings. Even the allnatural remedies from his favourite eucalyptus juice bar stopped working. No amount of chilled mineralwater facial sprays could wake him up on time.
Flying around the world, constantly crossing time zones, did not do good either. It could be Moscow on Monday, Hong Kong on Wednesday and Paris on Friday – and he needed a coping mechanism. He considered taking a page out of the book of his friend Mary, who would make time for workouts at precisely 5am every morning wherever in the world she may be. She would also jog for 40 minutes between the concourses at Heathrow and all the way from security to gate 60 at Hong Kong International Airport, instead of taking a train or a terminal buggy. At social gatherings, she would sip sparkling water from an elegant longstemmed glass rather than indulge in a nice vintage. But as admirable as her strict wellness regime was, it was certainly not suitable for a sybaritic TTC.
The weary traveller decided he needed a getaway. But one without too many time zones to cross. A few bits of research later, he found himself spending a long weekend in Tehran. The icy air of the Iranian capital and the lack of folly temptations cleansed his body and mind in the most natural way. Saffron tea and local regulations replaced flutes of bubbles. With not a single option for an indulgent nightcap, TTC headed to the hotel’s spa, where, to his surprise, he found the local wellness scene more advanced than he’d expected. The glossy treatment menu offered all kinds of remedies, from Thai to Swedish, yet he opted for a soothing massage involving “special techniques aimed at relieving cramped muscles of fatigue”. Just what the doctor ordered.
The lights were dimmed, the candles were lit and the music was subtle. The moment the massage commenced, however, TTC realised there would be barely anything soothing about the next hour. The therapist took his job very seriously, working every muscle and ligament with scientific precision. At times, the prostrate spa-goer had to bite his lips to prevent a scream, imagining all the bruises he’d have afterwards. It felt like serious manual therapy rather than the usual feather-light treatment. Having stoically survived the hour, he gingerly got up to find that he felt surprisingly light and refreshed. Back in his room, he enjoyed a 10-hour, undisturbed sleep.
Days later, back home in Dubai, he continued to sleep uninterrupted through the night, all traces of insomnia having vanished. His body felt grateful for that mysterious Iranian soothing technique – perhaps it was time to fly back for a proper three-day retreat. Who would have thought that the best spa was not just about aroma oils, singing bowls and colourful gem-water?
Worried he himself would turn a murkey shade of green after all those of green after all those wheatgrass shots, he hastily made a break from the clinic.