Latest
issue
GET SPA BUSINESS
magazine
Yes! Send me the FREE digital editions of Spa Business and Spa Business insider magazines and the FREE weekly Spa Business and Spa Business insider ezines and breaking news alerts!
Not right now, thanksclose this window
Uniting the world of spa & wellness
Get Spa Business and Spa Business insider digital magazines FREE
Sign up here ▸
News   Features   Products   Company profilesProfiles   Magazine   Handbook   Advertise    Subscribe  
Mystery shopper in Dubai
Talise Ottoman Spa at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

The latest spa by Jumeirah has 42 treatment rooms and is one of the biggest in Dubai, but how does the experience measure up? Daniella Russell finds out

By Daniella Russell | Published in Spa Business 2012 issue 1


The Dubai-based Jumeirah Group was appointed by Zabeel Properties in July to manage the Zabeel Saray. This new, luxury hotel – with its 405 bedrooms and 38 residences – is a tribute to the ornate palaces of the Ottoman empire and features hand-painted finishings and Turkish artworks and murals. It has been built on the beach and around a lagoon pool.

At the heart of the property lies the Talise Ottoman Spa which covers 8,000sq m (86,111sq ft) and boasts 42 treatment rooms and four VIP suites – making it one of the biggest in the Middle East. And only six months after opening, it has been crowned UAE’s Leading Spa Resort in the 2011 World Travel Awards.

Jumeirah first launched its Talise spa brand in 2007 (see sb07/2 p24) and there are now seven in operation. Overall, the group oversees 12 hotels worldwide and has 18 more in development.

The visit

The offer
The spa is spread over two floors – one for men and one for women – each featuring thalassotherapy pools, various heat experiences by Thermarium, plus snow rooms, floatation tanks and hydrotherapy rooms. There are also three Turkish hammams. A fully equipped fitness centre and personal trainers complete the offer.

In December, a Talise Couples Spa was added to the mix. Built on a mezzanine level with a private entrance, the section is dedicated to couples and includes a hammam, sauna, whirlpool and steamroom, as well as two couples suites with saunas, whirlpools, showers and majlis (lounge areas).

The spa menu had facials, massages, wraps and rituals, but these weren’t incredibly innovative and there was no recognition of product houses (Aromatherapy Associates and Kerstin Florian). The main signature treatments were the hammam experiences and my friend and I went for the 60-minute Royal Ottoman, which was acceptably priced at aed485 (us$132, €101, £85).

The booking
Booking was a challenge as you can’t do it online and the phone kept ringing out. After three days, I spoke to a very helpful spa assistant, Ahmad, who booked me in for that afternoon. Occasionally in Dubai, certain hotel spas cannot accommodate outside guests if occupancy is high, but with the spa being so large this wasn’t an issue.

Location and access
There’s no mistaking this stunning property that’s situated on the western crescent of Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah. The spa was also initially easy to find and the entrance, a regal corridor leading to huge wooden doors, was truly dramatic. Yet it was a long walk and one of trepidation as I wasn’t entirely sure I was on the right path. The hammam and treatment rooms can be used by clients with disabilities, but I would imagine that the wet areas would be difficult to access.

Design
The spa is an architectural and interior décor delight and it’s easy to see why the marketing material looks so good. It’s stunning in all areas and the hammam is particularly amazing. But the long walk to reception and feeling of being slightly lost is a recurring theme. A map (or a compass!) would be handy as signage is poor and instructions on how to best use the facility, especially the thermal area, would be useful.

The biggest shock was the design of the changing rooms because there weren’t any private cubicles. The UAE has a strict no-nudity policy and changing rooms are no exception to this. Two other ladies were also discussing this issue – both with us and between themselves – and without even a small space to discreetly hide away in, our only option was to change in the toilet.

Cleanliness
Overall the spa was clean and well-maintained and was only untidy in areas like the wet area where there were no linen hooks.

The staff
The receptionist we first met, who was wonderfully dressed and very attentive, left the front desk and stayed with us until we met our therapists. Although it was nice to be guided the whole way, this indicated to me that there was a lack of spa attendants and during the whole three hours, I only saw two other attendants. Considering the size of the facility I would have anticipated no less than three – more likely five – to be on hand to help guests.

The experience
The treatment consultation was brief – fill it the form if you have a problem, otherwise just sign. The changing rooms had ample lockers, so catering for large numbers of people won’t be a problem, but sadly none of them had a big enough robe. Admittedly this is a consistent complaint I have – only slim, model-types go to spas do they? – and the slippers were also for petite feet, which I don’t possess either. But, phew, the hammam wraps were OK! As the changing rooms were quite dark, punching in the combination for the lockers proved tricky.

A quick five-minute session was enjoyed in the steamroom before being led to the spectacular inner sanctum of the hammam where we were laid out on a massive central heated plinth. Fatima, my therapist, was obviously very experienced and happily initiated her task, starting with a facial scrub and then removing the rest of the dirty skin from my body in slow, rhythmic strokes that were most soporific and never rushed – I just lay back and admired the most amazing hand-painted ceiling above me.

I love hammam treatments and compared with others, I felt the room was a bit too large and high and as the doors were constantly kept open the heat escaped. Another side effect was that everyone passing by outside could watch me naked on the plinth – upselling to some degree I suppose!

My favourite aspect was the soap massage, where soap is rubbed inside a pillowcase to create masses of suds that are squeezed out all over the body [and massaged in]. It’s a truly wonderful feeling and this experience didn’t disappoint. There are many parts of this stunning ritual, but Fatima completed them without informing me unless asked. In comparison, my friend was guided throughout and was given a towel to cover up with, unlike myself.

The end of the treatment was limited. I was expecting a sweet mint tea and warm blankets to help my body restore its temperature naturally. Instead, I was given iced water and the option to lay down.

Next, we decided to explore the wet area – a beautiful part of the spa that is an Aladdin’s cave of exotic experiences, save for the snow room which didn’t look as interesting as others I have seen.

Operationally, however, there is room for improvement. Climbing into the vast whirlpool was no easy task as the steps were ridiculously narrow – as there was no one around to check on guests, this could be a big health and safety concern. Also, we would have liked a tour of the area to find out how to make the most out of it, but when we found a spa attendant she could only tell us about treatments. It wasn’t until we were dressed and on our way out that we stumbled upon the thalassotherapy pools which looked especially enticing and we were disappointed to have missed out.

Aftercare
At the start of our visit to the spa, I noticed some retail cabinets at the back of the large reception, but it turned out that this was the first and last part of our retail experience. Maybe the aftersell is happening more with guests having facials – we just got a ‘thank you for coming’, with no mention of an upsell or even a return visit.

Summary
My treatment was good, but could’ve been exceptional with more explanation for a first timer. This was not a language issue as Fatima was confident in her knowledge.

The property is stunning yet navigation could be improved with tours and instruction on how to use the array of heat and wet experiences. Operationally, it must be challenging to manage a huge facility, but I would summise that the team are not well-versed in the guest journey or treatment flow.

However, I would return as the spa has many redeeming features such as the authentic Turkish hammam, thalassotherapy pool and stunning relaxation areas.


Vital statistics
Address: Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, The Palm Jumeirah, Crescent Road (west), PO Box 27722, Dubai UAE

Times: fitness centre – 6.30am-10.30pm; spa and hammam – 9am-9pm

Cost: A 60-minute aromatherapy massage costs aed485 (us$132, €101, £85) and a 45-minute facial is priced at aed400 (us$109, €83, £70). Rituals range from aed825-1,525 (us$225-415, €172-318, £144-266) for two to four hours.

Details: www.jumeirah.com or +971 4 4530456 to book


WHAT’S THE SCORE?
Ease of booking
3
Facilities 7
Cleanliness/maintenance 8
Staff – Appearance 8
Staff – Attentiveness 9
Staff – Visibility 4
Experience/ treatment 8
Value for money 7.5
Overall experience 7

Right to reply
Paul Hawco, Spa Director, Talise Ottoman Spa

We always appreciate feedback, especially since we opened just a year ago and we strive to offer an exceptional experience. With regards to the variety of treatments offered, we continuously review our menu and have added new treatments recently, including a coffee peeling treatment and a hydrotherapy ritual. Regarding the changing rooms, we’ve already added three private cubicles. Concerning the lack of communication with the therapist, our colleagues receive ongoing training and we’ll ensure that this is addressed. We agree that our spa-wear should suit all body types and have since ordered robes and sandals in various sizes, including large. Please accept our apologies if the experience was not thoroughly enjoyed. We hope to welcome Ms Russell back in the near future to provide an exceptional spa experience.

The 405-bedroom hotel is a tribute to ornate palaces of the Ottoman era
The hammam’s hand-painted ceiling is an amazing feature, but the room was too big to be heated efficiently
A map or good signage would help guests to navigate this huge spa
The entrance to the stunning spa – a regal corridor leading to a reception area with huge wooden doors – is truly dramatic
The extremely narrow steps leading to the whirlpool could be a big health and safety hazard
After the spa treatment, the offer of a sweet mint tea would have complemented a lie down in the relaxation area
FEATURED SUPPLIERS

Discover the perfect blend of style, innovation and flexibility with Living Earth Crafts’ Insignia 2.0 Ellipse
Living Earth Crafts has launched the new Insignia 2.0 Ellipse™ Multi-purpose Treatment Table, combining award-winning comfort and striking design aesthetics with operational excellence. [more...]

Discover Comfort Zone’s Stand For Regeneration campaign
Comfort Zone's latest initiative, the Stand for Regeneration campaign, consolidates its position as a pioneer in the cosmetics business. [more...]
+ More featured suppliers  
COMPANY PROFILES
Myrtha Wellness

Myrtha Pools was founded in 1961 in Italy by the engineer Giorgio Colletto and through research and [more...]
Spa Supply Solutions

Spa Supply Solutions was founded in 2014 by Julie Bevilacqua, a seasoned expert in spa management an [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
 

+ More catalogues  

DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

22-22 Jun 2024

World Bathing Day

Worldwide,
22-24 Jun 2024

IECSC Las Vegas

Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, United States
+ More diary  
 
ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
 
SPA BUSINESS
SPA OPPORTUNITIES
SPA BUSINESS HANDBOOK
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS
ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2024
Uniting the world of spa & wellness
Get Spa Business and Spa Business insider digital magazines FREE
Sign up here ▸
News   Products   Magazine   Subscribe
Mystery shopper in Dubai
Talise Ottoman Spa at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

The latest spa by Jumeirah has 42 treatment rooms and is one of the biggest in Dubai, but how does the experience measure up? Daniella Russell finds out

By Daniella Russell | Published in Spa Business 2012 issue 1


The Dubai-based Jumeirah Group was appointed by Zabeel Properties in July to manage the Zabeel Saray. This new, luxury hotel – with its 405 bedrooms and 38 residences – is a tribute to the ornate palaces of the Ottoman empire and features hand-painted finishings and Turkish artworks and murals. It has been built on the beach and around a lagoon pool.

At the heart of the property lies the Talise Ottoman Spa which covers 8,000sq m (86,111sq ft) and boasts 42 treatment rooms and four VIP suites – making it one of the biggest in the Middle East. And only six months after opening, it has been crowned UAE’s Leading Spa Resort in the 2011 World Travel Awards.

Jumeirah first launched its Talise spa brand in 2007 (see sb07/2 p24) and there are now seven in operation. Overall, the group oversees 12 hotels worldwide and has 18 more in development.

The visit

The offer
The spa is spread over two floors – one for men and one for women – each featuring thalassotherapy pools, various heat experiences by Thermarium, plus snow rooms, floatation tanks and hydrotherapy rooms. There are also three Turkish hammams. A fully equipped fitness centre and personal trainers complete the offer.

In December, a Talise Couples Spa was added to the mix. Built on a mezzanine level with a private entrance, the section is dedicated to couples and includes a hammam, sauna, whirlpool and steamroom, as well as two couples suites with saunas, whirlpools, showers and majlis (lounge areas).

The spa menu had facials, massages, wraps and rituals, but these weren’t incredibly innovative and there was no recognition of product houses (Aromatherapy Associates and Kerstin Florian). The main signature treatments were the hammam experiences and my friend and I went for the 60-minute Royal Ottoman, which was acceptably priced at aed485 (us$132, €101, £85).

The booking
Booking was a challenge as you can’t do it online and the phone kept ringing out. After three days, I spoke to a very helpful spa assistant, Ahmad, who booked me in for that afternoon. Occasionally in Dubai, certain hotel spas cannot accommodate outside guests if occupancy is high, but with the spa being so large this wasn’t an issue.

Location and access
There’s no mistaking this stunning property that’s situated on the western crescent of Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah. The spa was also initially easy to find and the entrance, a regal corridor leading to huge wooden doors, was truly dramatic. Yet it was a long walk and one of trepidation as I wasn’t entirely sure I was on the right path. The hammam and treatment rooms can be used by clients with disabilities, but I would imagine that the wet areas would be difficult to access.

Design
The spa is an architectural and interior décor delight and it’s easy to see why the marketing material looks so good. It’s stunning in all areas and the hammam is particularly amazing. But the long walk to reception and feeling of being slightly lost is a recurring theme. A map (or a compass!) would be handy as signage is poor and instructions on how to best use the facility, especially the thermal area, would be useful.

The biggest shock was the design of the changing rooms because there weren’t any private cubicles. The UAE has a strict no-nudity policy and changing rooms are no exception to this. Two other ladies were also discussing this issue – both with us and between themselves – and without even a small space to discreetly hide away in, our only option was to change in the toilet.

Cleanliness
Overall the spa was clean and well-maintained and was only untidy in areas like the wet area where there were no linen hooks.

The staff
The receptionist we first met, who was wonderfully dressed and very attentive, left the front desk and stayed with us until we met our therapists. Although it was nice to be guided the whole way, this indicated to me that there was a lack of spa attendants and during the whole three hours, I only saw two other attendants. Considering the size of the facility I would have anticipated no less than three – more likely five – to be on hand to help guests.

The experience
The treatment consultation was brief – fill it the form if you have a problem, otherwise just sign. The changing rooms had ample lockers, so catering for large numbers of people won’t be a problem, but sadly none of them had a big enough robe. Admittedly this is a consistent complaint I have – only slim, model-types go to spas do they? – and the slippers were also for petite feet, which I don’t possess either. But, phew, the hammam wraps were OK! As the changing rooms were quite dark, punching in the combination for the lockers proved tricky.

A quick five-minute session was enjoyed in the steamroom before being led to the spectacular inner sanctum of the hammam where we were laid out on a massive central heated plinth. Fatima, my therapist, was obviously very experienced and happily initiated her task, starting with a facial scrub and then removing the rest of the dirty skin from my body in slow, rhythmic strokes that were most soporific and never rushed – I just lay back and admired the most amazing hand-painted ceiling above me.

I love hammam treatments and compared with others, I felt the room was a bit too large and high and as the doors were constantly kept open the heat escaped. Another side effect was that everyone passing by outside could watch me naked on the plinth – upselling to some degree I suppose!

My favourite aspect was the soap massage, where soap is rubbed inside a pillowcase to create masses of suds that are squeezed out all over the body [and massaged in]. It’s a truly wonderful feeling and this experience didn’t disappoint. There are many parts of this stunning ritual, but Fatima completed them without informing me unless asked. In comparison, my friend was guided throughout and was given a towel to cover up with, unlike myself.

The end of the treatment was limited. I was expecting a sweet mint tea and warm blankets to help my body restore its temperature naturally. Instead, I was given iced water and the option to lay down.

Next, we decided to explore the wet area – a beautiful part of the spa that is an Aladdin’s cave of exotic experiences, save for the snow room which didn’t look as interesting as others I have seen.

Operationally, however, there is room for improvement. Climbing into the vast whirlpool was no easy task as the steps were ridiculously narrow – as there was no one around to check on guests, this could be a big health and safety concern. Also, we would have liked a tour of the area to find out how to make the most out of it, but when we found a spa attendant she could only tell us about treatments. It wasn’t until we were dressed and on our way out that we stumbled upon the thalassotherapy pools which looked especially enticing and we were disappointed to have missed out.

Aftercare
At the start of our visit to the spa, I noticed some retail cabinets at the back of the large reception, but it turned out that this was the first and last part of our retail experience. Maybe the aftersell is happening more with guests having facials – we just got a ‘thank you for coming’, with no mention of an upsell or even a return visit.

Summary
My treatment was good, but could’ve been exceptional with more explanation for a first timer. This was not a language issue as Fatima was confident in her knowledge.

The property is stunning yet navigation could be improved with tours and instruction on how to use the array of heat and wet experiences. Operationally, it must be challenging to manage a huge facility, but I would summise that the team are not well-versed in the guest journey or treatment flow.

However, I would return as the spa has many redeeming features such as the authentic Turkish hammam, thalassotherapy pool and stunning relaxation areas.


Vital statistics
Address: Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, The Palm Jumeirah, Crescent Road (west), PO Box 27722, Dubai UAE

Times: fitness centre – 6.30am-10.30pm; spa and hammam – 9am-9pm

Cost: A 60-minute aromatherapy massage costs aed485 (us$132, €101, £85) and a 45-minute facial is priced at aed400 (us$109, €83, £70). Rituals range from aed825-1,525 (us$225-415, €172-318, £144-266) for two to four hours.

Details: www.jumeirah.com or +971 4 4530456 to book


WHAT’S THE SCORE?
Ease of booking
3
Facilities 7
Cleanliness/maintenance 8
Staff – Appearance 8
Staff – Attentiveness 9
Staff – Visibility 4
Experience/ treatment 8
Value for money 7.5
Overall experience 7

Right to reply
Paul Hawco, Spa Director, Talise Ottoman Spa

We always appreciate feedback, especially since we opened just a year ago and we strive to offer an exceptional experience. With regards to the variety of treatments offered, we continuously review our menu and have added new treatments recently, including a coffee peeling treatment and a hydrotherapy ritual. Regarding the changing rooms, we’ve already added three private cubicles. Concerning the lack of communication with the therapist, our colleagues receive ongoing training and we’ll ensure that this is addressed. We agree that our spa-wear should suit all body types and have since ordered robes and sandals in various sizes, including large. Please accept our apologies if the experience was not thoroughly enjoyed. We hope to welcome Ms Russell back in the near future to provide an exceptional spa experience.

The 405-bedroom hotel is a tribute to ornate palaces of the Ottoman era
The hammam’s hand-painted ceiling is an amazing feature, but the room was too big to be heated efficiently
A map or good signage would help guests to navigate this huge spa
The entrance to the stunning spa – a regal corridor leading to a reception area with huge wooden doors – is truly dramatic
The extremely narrow steps leading to the whirlpool could be a big health and safety hazard
After the spa treatment, the offer of a sweet mint tea would have complemented a lie down in the relaxation area
LATEST NEWS
Vogue hand-picks 100 of the world’s best spas to curate Global Spa Guide
Conde Nast’s iconic fashion and lifestyle publication Vogue has created a list of 100 of the world's leading spas, known as the Global Spa Guide.
Good Spa Guide report reveals diverse spa preferences and spending habits across age groups
Results are in for the latest Good Spa Guide (GSG) consumer survey, with this year's findings categorised into five life stages to better understand different people’s priorities when visiting spas.
Global Wellness Summit 2024 to make waves in Scotland with theme “A Watershed Moment for Wellness”
The 2024 Global Wellness Summit (GWS) is set to make a splash in Scotland from 4-7 November, with the theme “A Watershed Moment for Wellness”.
Influencer Anna Lewandowska reveals plans for a new 'wellness paradise' called Edan Studios in Barcelona
Fitness influencer and karate champion, Anna Lewandowska, has announced the launch of a multi-concept boutique in Barcelona called Edan Studios based on HIIT, Pilates and dance.
Luxury 20-treatment-room spa launches in Türkiye at Maxx Royal Bodrum Resort
Turkish hospitality group Maxx Royal Resorts has launched a new upscale coastal retreat on Türkiye's Bodrum peninsula, complete with a large 4,500sq m destination spa.
Victoria Brownlie recognised with MBE for services to beauty and personal care industry
Victoria Brownlie, the British Beauty Council’s chief of policy and sustainability, has been named in King Charles’ Birthday Honours 2024 for her services to the UK’s beauty and personal care industry.
Japan's first Blue Zones longevity retreat to launch at Halekulani Okinawa
A new retreat focused on helping people lead longer, happier lives is launching on the Japanese island of Okinawa.
One&Only’s new oceanfront spa in Greece offers treatments inspired by Greek mythology and Ayurveda
One&Only Resorts has introduced a new three-storey spa on the picturesque Greek island of Kéa, located at its recently launched oceanfront property, One&Only Kéa Island Resort and Private Homes.
Report identifies diversity, equity and inclusion challenges in health club sector
Diversity, equity and inclusion in the European fitness industry is examined in a new report which provides eye-opening findings and a starting point for change.
RLA Global: Wellness hotels experience positive growth trend globally in 2023
Hotels incorporating wellness amenities experienced a significant boost in Total Revenue per Available Room (TRevPAR) in 2023, according to the latest Wellness Real Estate Report by RLA Global, produced in partnership with P&L benchmarking firm HotStats.
World leaders gather at luxury Italian wellness retreat Borgo Egnazia for G7 Summit
The 2024 G7 Summit is now underway at a destination spa resort in Puglia, Italy, with leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US convening to address some of the world’s most urgent issues.
Minor devises new medi-wellness concept for Anantara, debuting in Phuket in Q3
Minor Hotels CEO Dillip Rajakarier has unveiled plans to introduce an innovative medi-wellness concept to the group's Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas brand, with ambitions to expand the concept to additional resorts in the future.
+ More news   
 
FEATURED SUPPLIERS

Discover the perfect blend of style, innovation and flexibility with Living Earth Crafts’ Insignia 2.0 Ellipse
Living Earth Crafts has launched the new Insignia 2.0 Ellipse™ Multi-purpose Treatment Table, combining award-winning comfort and striking design aesthetics with operational excellence. [more...]

Discover Comfort Zone’s Stand For Regeneration campaign
Comfort Zone's latest initiative, the Stand for Regeneration campaign, consolidates its position as a pioneer in the cosmetics business. [more...]
+ More featured suppliers  
COMPANY PROFILES
Myrtha Wellness

Myrtha Pools was founded in 1961 in Italy by the engineer Giorgio Colletto and through research and [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  

DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

22-22 Jun 2024

World Bathing Day

Worldwide,
22-24 Jun 2024

IECSC Las Vegas

Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, United States
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2024

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS