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Talise Spa, Dubai

The largest spa in Dubai, ranked highest with us out of the six that we sampled. We attribute our outstanding experiences to the Fingerprint massage treatment offered by two outstanding therapists among a staff of 84. (Update: Photo above, since our visit, is the AlphaSphere Deluxe by the artist SHA. Focusing on human senses it creates a body and mind experience using the perceptions of sound, colour, light, vibration, touch, temperature and smell. With four different programs available, ranging from Basic Blue, Sensitive Violet, Intense Red to Energy Orange, there's a host of benefits associated with the use of the AlphaSphere Deluxe.)

We maintain that you can immediately gauge a spa by your reception. Even though we were hurried and harried upon our arrival, we were immediately put at ease. They knew who we were, and they were ready for us, assuring us there was no need to stress; instead we should just relax. A few deep breaths later, we were ready to do just that.

Talise means “beautiful water,” and water is among the spa element features that greet you at this center of well-being. Inside, hot and cold plunge pools and saunas and steam rooms beckon, while outdoors, which is how you reach most of the 26 treatment rooms, little waterways surround long, tranquil walkways sided with lovely flora and fauna.

The web site touts Talise as “the spa for self discovery,” and our sole regret is that our schedule only permitted one visit and one treatment each, as this is the kind of place you could come every day on vacation and never grow tired of.

Part of what makes this spa a standout is the knowledgeable staff and how they take time to individualize your treatment, especially if you choose the Talise Fingerprint Body Massage, because just as each fingerprint is unique, each person’s Fingerprint massage is unique to their needs, likes and wants. That’s because the therapist interviews you beforehand to determine how to proceed for the next 50 or 80 minutes.

Fletcher happily fell into the hands of therapist extraordinaire James Francisco Rodrigues.

“James started with seemingly standard questions, but he wrote the responses himself and followed them, noting, for instance that I had a blister on my right foot. This is one of my pet peeves with spas – when they ask about specifics you want worked or avoided and then do not follow your requests. So, James did everything exactly right.

He started with a hot towel on my feet, which was both cleansing and relaxing.

As the massage got under way, he climbed onto the table and used both his hands in one movement to work my back and butt, a kind of swirling stroke with just the right amount of pressure.

"The Fingerprint, he explained, is a customized delivery of pressure and needs, but his technique was in short, finger movements, like walking his fingers along in small steps using pressure in a series of strokes. On my elbows and forearms, he changed to longer strokes. It all worked together beautifully.

"After I turned over, James place a warm towel under my neck for support and at the conclusion of the treatment, put another warm towel over my shoulders and chest before ensconcing my face with it.

"James was very intuitive. He knew exactly where my body needed work, and he didn’t scrimp on time. The 80-minute treatment, to me, made a big difference vs. 50 minutes."

Afterward, the spa assistant manager explained to Kathy that Talise treats guests using five key methods to wellness with the aim of bringing the mind and body into alignment. First, there’s relaxation and pampering; second, alternative therapies; third, Ayurvedic; fourth, nutritional guidance; and five, personal physical fitness training. In fact, we heard from other guests that the yoga classes are outstanding.

Talise Spa’s philosophy is “to take the best therapies from the oldest cultures and combine with a selection of international techniques to treat your individual needs.”

This beautiful spa’s signature treatments include the 110-minute Talise Absolution delivered by two therapists “to treat you in complete unison.” It starts with gentle foot ritual and pressure point massage, followed with a yummy sounding hot-oil drizzle over your back, and a” life rhythm massage, with steamed herbal poultices drenched in hot oil.” Next comes one our favorite all-time massages, a synchronized Lomi Lomi fused with Thai and Balinese movements. Again, we wish we’d had time to try this one.

Other signature treatments include the Talise Pure Awakening, 50 minutes and recommended for jet-lag; a Talise Herbal Stone Poultice and a Talise Crystal OpulEssence Facial, both 80 minutes. The latter uses the alleged healing power of crystals along with rose oil essence.

Talise also offers alternative and traditional Chinese medicinal approaches including cupping, acupuncture plus ear candling.

For Kathy’s Fingerprint massage, therapist Jeanette zeroed in on her problem areas that have resulted from years working at a computer: the need to release muscle tension with a focus on the neck, and shoulder blade areas of the back. Following the 80-minute standout treatment, Jeanette concluded that Kathy’s “very tense back” was the result of lactic acid build-up for which she recommended products including de-stress gel and de-stress bath oil. The discussion brought with it an “ah-ha” moment. Massage alone will not relieve such chronic build-up because by this point, Kathy had had more than a dozen massages over several weeks and the stubborn problem areas still persisted. Conclusion: While massage is definitely part of the arsenal of tools to fight muscle tension, nothing replaces good old-fashioned work breaks with stretching, plus, OK, some good nutrition as well.

Post-massage, incidentally, the reception team commented that we looked far more relaxed than we had upon our hasty arrival. We assured them that what they saw on the outside only mirrored a tiny bit of how wonderful we were feeling inside. The Fingerprint was the perfect treatment after a long flight and late hotel arrival.

And we loved taking the abra — a small boat — on the Venice-like waterway outside the spa back to our accommodations at Jumeirah Beach. The Madinat Jumeirah is a whole collection of accommodations, restaurants and shops all along the waterway, a destination unto itself.

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