By Ashlee Starratt
From the green jungles of Chiang Mai, to the ivory beaches of Koh Pha Ngan Thailand, the Land of Smiles, is an emerald paradise whose cultural beauty awakens the senses, whose cuisine excites the palate, and whose ancient rituals invigorate the mind, body, and soul. The tradition of Thai massage is one known the world over, often imitated but never duplicated, and it’s with this authenticity in mind that Airada Spa opens its doors on The Pearl-Qatar.
Thai-owned and family-run, the spa is nestled along the Porto Arabia boardwalk, at Tower 30, and is the perfect escape for some me-time pampering. It’s early on a sun-drenched Thursday afternoon when the ILQ team arrives for some much needed time-away-from-the-computer relaxation. The spa’s décor is quintessentially Royal Thai, with slight touches in the colour palette – jewel tones of gold and purple – that are a nod to its Arabian locale.
Ornate, tasseled lanterns hang from the ceiling in the main reception area, while intricate, gold carvings of traditional Thai figures beckon guests towards the treatment area. To the right, upon entering the spa, is a cloistered relaxation area with loungers and footstools where guests can unwind post-treatment with a cup of Airada’s signature jasmine tea with lemongrass.
To the left, a carved, wood-paneled door leads to a separate room where the Thai foot ritual takes place – and it’s here where we begin our Airada experience. Our therapists, Kim and Dang, remove our shoes as we sink into the soft recliners – foot-bath bowls at our feet. After a soak in hot water, our feet are exfoliated, scrubbed, moisturized, and massaged before we’re given a comfy pair of slippers and escorted through the gold doors to the locker area. Two warm, padded bathrobes later, and Kim and Dang guide us to our treatment room where we’ll be trying Airada’s Aromatic Body Massage, and Crystal Clear Therapy Facial.
The room is darkened, lit only by candle-light, with a gilded curtain that can be hung between the massage tables for enhanced privacy. As we sink into their soft depths, the strains of peaceful, ambient music caressing our senses, we quickly drift off as the treatment begins.
For those unfamiliar with the nature of Thai massage, it’s a combination of long, sinuous strokes along the body’s energy – or chakra – points, to release tension and ease muscle relaxation. It also combines stretching techniques and light pounding that further invigorate blood circulation and encourage muscle elasticity. For the therapist, it’s a full-body workout as, climbing atop the table, she uses her elbows, feet, and hands to tenderize the muscles, and stretch out all our knots.
Airada’s Aromatic Body Massage uses a signature aromatherapy massage-oil blend to revitalize and keep the skin looking youthful. I ask Dang to please concentrate on my neck, shoulders, and lower back as those are the problem areas that seems to plague me most when it comes to tension and discomfort. The scent of the oil is as relaxing as the touch of Dang’s hands as she skillfully works out a stubborn knot under my left shoulder-blade.
A mélange of organic argan, coconut, sulfur, grapefruit, and avocado oils, the aromatherapy blend is rich in vitamins and minerals that not only moisturize our skin, but help protect against the free radicals that cause wrinkles and other early signs of aging. For several days afterwards – rather than giving in to the elements of Qatar’s desert climate – my skin feels smooth, creamy, and maintains a healthy glow.
After the hour-long massage, we settle in to spoil ourselves with another 90-minutes of relaxation. Next up is Airada’s Crystal Clear Therapy Facial – one of the most unique we’ve tried, using crystals and precious stones as massage tools. Our facial begins with a ritual cleansing, exfoliation, and application of toner and serum. Each time a new product is applied to our skin, it’s gently massaged into its deeper layers, before lush, hot towels are used to further cleanse our face and open our pores.
Airada Spa uses Elemental Nature personalized products, customizing each guest’s experience to the specific needs of their skin. For my combination skin, which is very dry across the T-zone, and oily in other areas, Dang focuses on extra moisturizing and toning for those problem areas. Essential oil aromas and massage techniques that focus on unblocking energy flow, add additional elements of relaxation to the experience.
After applying a softening facial mask to my skin, I feel myself drifting off to sleep as Dang gives me a toe-curling scalp massage while the mask sets. The treatment is capped off with the application of precious, polished, gemstones along the facial chakra lines. Combined with specific organic oils, the stones – which include jade, amethyst, rose quartz, and turquoise – are then used as part of a Thai medicine massage technique to release tension and restore balance.
We leave our Airada Spa experience feeling rejuvenated, relaxed, and at one with our surroundings. After a quick freshening up we return to the spa’s relaxation area for a cup of warming jasmine tea with lemongrass before heading next door to their sister restaurant, White Oryx, to sample some authentic flavours and spice of Thailand – but that’s a review for another time!
About Airada Spa
Location: Tower 30, Porto Arabia, The Pearl-Qatar
Timings: 10:00 a.m. till 11:00 p.m., daily
Prices: QR 350, 60-minute Aromatic Body Massage
QR 650, 90-minute Crystal Clear Therapy Facial
Contact: (+974) 6640-4399
How do you like to relax when at the spa? Drop us a line in the comments below and let us know your favourite treatment. Also, don’t forget to give us a like and a share – it keeps us going!
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