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It was with a mix of trepidation and excitement that I made my way along the twisting roads around the Hyatt Capital Gate to my appointment at the Rayana Spa. I must confess that a trip to a spa is hardly an average experience for me. All these years, I have resisted the urge to be pampered and thumped into relaxation by another - think of it as the male cliché of self-sufficiency. Consequently this was, if you like, my First Time.
But then the Rayana Spa offers the kind of treatment that’s difficult to resist. Clocking in at two and a half hours of attention, the Rayana Rebuild was certainly not going to be a quick in-and-out. But then, as I told myself, in the line of duty, a journalist must be prepared to run the gauntlet. Even if that’s of pampering and indulgence.
The Capital Gate Hyatt tower is one of the more recognisable structures in Abu Dhabi. At 18 degrees off the vertical, it’s considered to be the farthest leaning manmade structure in the world. Due to deliberate asymmetry, each room is different in curvature, which of course means that furniture and fittings must be custom-made.
The Rayana Spa has taken advantage of these architectural idiosyncrasies to create a relaxing space within a busy setting. It pays homage to its desert environs by focusing on the interplay between sun, water, sand and botanical ingredients. Buzzwords, I initially thought. But no.
The spa’s layout creates myriad opportunities for the sun to shine through crevices, windows and portholes. The entire ensemble prioritises a connection with the outside, albeit through panes of glass. With captivating views and no chance missed to let in the sun, the overall effect is that of airy lightness. The walls and finish also pay tribute to the desert, with earthy tones and acid-eaten marble as the dominant motif.
The Rayana Rebuild is extensive and strangely relaxing, even for a sceptic such as I. A personal therapist led me through a warm bath where, to my chagrin, I could only handle a lukewarm thirty-eight degrees Celsius. This was followed by a stunningly soporific deep tissue massage lasting ninety minutes. The Rebuild culminates in a facial treatment, which is probably more effective on people who don’t have hair shrouding most of their face.
There is no shortage of spas in the UAE but the Rayana is set apart by its attention to detail, the interplay of sun, sand and water and the extreme care with which treatments are chosen based on your needs. Were I ever to subject myself to a spa again, I can honestly say that this would be the one.