THE TRAVEL CON­NOIS­SEUR

The weary world trav­eller looks for a healthy es­cape and finds it in the most un­usual of places

Condé Nast Traveller Middle East - - Hot Neighbourhoods -

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.

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