It was dark and rainy when I arrived at the Mövenpick Resort, perched on the edge of the Dead Sea in Jordan, so there was no hope of seeing the famous sea until morning. When I woke it was still raining, but miraculously the skies cleared for about a half-hour, enough time to throw on my bathing suit and get down to the sea for an early-morning float.
The Dead Sea isn’t a sea at all but a salt lake bordering Jordan to the east and Israel to the west. The lowest place on Earth, the Dead Sea is approximately 1,300 feet below sea level. Since the high salt content keeps the body buoyant, it is impossible to sink, making floating ridiculously easy.
Besides the novelty of making one unsinkable, the Dead Sea has plenty of health benefits. It is almost eight times saltier than other bodies of salt water; its high content of minerals and salt is beneficial to the skin. Awareness of the Dead Sea’s healing properties is nothing new. Aristotle wrote of its remarkable waters, and in Roman times, Herod the Great established one of the world’s first health resorts on its shores.
Another remarkable phenomenon in the area around the Dead Sea is that the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays are filtered through multiple atmospheric screens here which results in reduced risks to the skin. But sun wasn’t much of an issue the day I was here, and the skies were beginning to look ominous again, so I climbed out of the water and headed for the spa.
The resort’s award-winning ZARA Spa is state of the art and covers almost 20,000 square feet, making it one of the largest spas in the Middle East. Its list of treatments and amenities is impressive.
A gentleman dressed in a sparkling white outfit and traditional head covering greeted me at the spa’s entrance and ushered me to the front desk, where a pretty Jordanian woman signed me in and gave me a tour of the facilities. I learned that along with my treatment, I’d have unlimited day use of the spa facilities, which included a flotation pool with 28 percent Dead Sea salt concentration, a fitness studio, wet and dry steam rooms, a relaxation lounge with Dead Sea views and a juice bar. Considering the inclement weather, hanging out in the spa for the day sounded like a good plan.
In the locker room, I slipped into a fluffy white bathrobe and plastic sandals and headed to the restfully decorated lounge to wait for my therapist. As I was sipping a cup of herbal tea, a Middle Eastern woman with glowing skin and liquid black eyes appeared and introduced herself as Hannah. She led me to a tiled treatment room and briefly explained what I could expect from my treatments. I’d chosen the Natural Dead Sea Salt Scrub followed by a Dead Sea Mud Wrap, topped off with an Algomega Warm Facial.
First step in the process was to get some steam. I emerged from the toasty steam room feeling not unlike a limp piece of broccoli and crawled up on the treatment table, prepared to be scrubbed with the world’s most famous salt.
The idea behind the salt scrub is to leave the body exfoliated so it can reap all the benefits of the mud wrap to follow. Hannah managed to massage the coarse salt over almost every inch of my body. I have to admit, it was a little abrasive at first, but after a few minutes I got used to it and envisioned all those layers of dead skin being stripped away.
After showering off the salt crystals — not so easy, as it turned out — I headed back to the steam room. I swear it was even hotter than before. I am, by my own admission, a confirmed spa wimp, and I can’t tell you how happy I was when Hannah finally sprung me from the inferno.
Back on the treatment table, I was slathered in warm Dead Sea mud. As Hannah rubbed the mud over me, she explained what makes it so special. It seems Dead Sea mud contains a unique blend of more than 20 minerals which nourishes skin cells and acts as a natural moisturizer. The mud’s fine grains work as a deep exfoliant and cleansing agent, dislodging toxins, impurities and oily secretions. It felt great and gave my skin a warm, tingling sensation.
Once I was completely covered in mud, I was wrapped in plastic, the lights were dimmed, and I was left to marinate. I was beginning to wonder if Hannah had forgotten me when the door finally opened. She unwrapped me, and I hopped into the shower to wash off the curative mud in preparation for my final treatment.
The facial started with cooling lotions applied to my face and neck. This was followed by warm goo applied to form an Algomega mask. Hannah explained Algomega combines the benefits of two algae, both rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, to produce a nourishing facial treatment.
Again, Hannah left the room while I lay there, my face absorbing all the healing benefits of the mask. She returned in 15 minutes to remove the mask in one piece. It felt like soft, pliable plastic. She applied another cream to my face, and I was good to go.
My skin was the softest it ever felt. Vibrant with physical and mental well-being, I headed for the Tranquility Lounge. I saw out the window it was still raining, but I didn’t care. I settled into a lounge chair with a cup of tea and congratulated myself on finding the perfect way to spend a rainy day at the edge of the Dead Sea.
ZARA Spa The Dead Sea
Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea
Sweimeh, Dead Sea Road
Amman 11180, Jordan
tel 962 5 356 11 11
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I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
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