She is crawling up my back with all the dexterity of a spider, her bony arms and legs stopping at pressure points. The kneading expresses itself in a sigh — and it’s only after a few minutes that I realise it came from me.
The day began innocuously enough. It began with us walking into the relatively new Five Palm Jumeirah Dubai. And what greeted us was the sight of a pool speckled with colour. People in bright green, red, blue bobbed up and down; children squealed and played; and some lay immobile soaking up the — very, very hot — sun.
Next came an elevator ride to a sweet-smelling spa, where a hall of arches led us to the reception, and our masseuses. And so began my lesson in relaxation.
The four-foot something, lean, mean massaging machine led me to a ‘treatment centre’; the hotel has a series of stand-alone bunkers, complete with bathrooms.
Here, my therapist, Lomi, first crawled on my back, gently easing it into a state of perfect malleability before targeting specific areas where once-obstinate knots yielded to her ministrations. The oil she used was relatively tepid and odourless, so the only thing to focus on as my eyes were lulled shut was the gentle wavelike motions that relieved stress. The 45-minute session was over much too quickly.
But relaxed I reluctantly followed Lomi back to my companion (I’d have preferred to take a tiny nap), and onwards to the Chinese restaurant Maiden Shanghai for a meal.
There’s something cool about Maiden Shanghai. Perhaps it’s the hanging lights above the tables that elude a street-smart vibe, perhaps it’s that the tables are close together as though anticipating a large crowd. Or perhaps it’s that on this recent day we found ourselves at the receiving end of many servers’ attention (a look up from our plates seemed to warrant a smile, a nod, or a questioning few steps towards us). I could get used to this.
The lunch set menu began with a bowl of hot and sour soup, spice level perfect. Then came the starters. Mine, a crispy, sweet beef and shredded pepper; my companion’s a steamed spinach in sesame sauce. They whet our appetite all right, but also left us craving more.
Finally there was the main course — chicken in sweet and sour sauce with steamed rice, or noodles. The portion sizes are healthy, but not meant for over indulgence; satisfying. Plated up like fine fare, the dishes are beautiful to look at — perfect for that Instagram post.
What wasn’t on the agenda but the perfect afternoon called for was a sweet dessert. In summer, a mango-something it had to be. The custard was creamy, sugary and all things good.
And then it was time to leave. We walked up the stairs, into the elevator and past the pool brimming over with colour on our way home for a snooze.
Good for: The Instagram groupie
Credit card: Yes
Avg. Cost per Person: 300, with beverages
Location: Five Palm Jumeirah Dubai
Don’t miss it!
Try the De-stress and Dine deal at Five Palm Jumeirah Dubai this month. Get a three-course lunch plus 45-minute massage for Dh299 per person until September 31. Both parts of the deal must be redeemed within seven days.