Monthly Archives: June 2013

Undefined Declarations Hosts The Carnival of Weekend Wanderings!

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I’m delighted to be hosting the Carnival of Weekend Wanderings on July 4. It’s a very interesting and fun concept that brings together bloggers of all genres and allows a way for us to get introduced to other bloggers and their pages. I have personally found it a great opportunity to make new friends from the blogging community through the Carnival Blog. You never know who you will meet next; it could be someone who lives in your neighborhood or city.

Of course the blog carnival also helps to promote other blogs and drive more traffic into them. It’s also a great way to find out about what others have been up to in their weekend, and possibly get inspired by their story 🙂

“The Carnival of Weekend Wanderings” is a publication of posts once every two weeks about your weekend answering the simple questions:

Where did you go? What did you do?

To participate in the next blog carnival, all you need to do is to submit the link for your weekend blog post on the following submission form:

http://blogcarnival.com/bc/submit_16781.html

If the above website is down, you can send your article links directly to my e-mail: undefineddeclarations at gmail dot com

To know more about the Carnival of Weekend Wanderings, check out Grace from Sandier Pastures‘s post about it here.

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment on this post or drop me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing your weekend stories 🙂

 

carnival of weekend wanderings

Dubai Spa Review: Elixir Spa at The Habtoor Grand Resort & Spa

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There’s always a story behind everything that I do. Sometimes, it’s funny. Other times it’s sad and this time, it was ordinary. I had written a review on The Habtoor Grand Resort and Spa beach club very recently. If you missed it, you can read it here.

As I was leaving the beach club that day, I was handed a voucher for a 20% discount for a massage treatment at the hotel’s spa: Elixir Spa.

So, I naturally booked a massage appointment to make use of the promotion before it expired and before Ramadan started.

 

Summer Promotion

When I called to book my appointment, I was informed that I can get a 60 or 90 minute massage treatment. I went for the one-hour option. I inquired about the prices before and after the discount. The 60 minute Elixir Therapeutic Massage’s regular rate is 450 AED. After the summer promotion discount, I paid 360 AED. I asked about the type of massage and I was told that it’s a Swedish full body massage.

Here’s a list of the spa services included in the summer promotion (valid until July 31, 2013):

 

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Main Drawbacks

  1. I was asked to pay for my massage before the treatment. I don’t think that it’s a welcoming or nice gesture to ask the client to pay for the service prior to getting it. Especially in a spa environment.
  2. I wasn’t informed at the time of booking the treatment that use of the steam and sauna rooms is included in my treatment. I only found out about this from my therapist right before the massage. I wasn’t able to make use of the full treatment offer since I had already made plans to have lunch with my dad and so I couldn’t just stay and use the other facilities available with my treatment. The staff at the reception didn’t inform me of this neither at the time of booking nor at the time of the appointment.

 

Massage Rating

I found the massage to be up to professional standards. I had asked the therapist for a hard pressure massage with a focus on my shoulders and upper back. The therapist did a great job with a consistent pressure throughout the whole treatment. Overall, the massage was very relaxing and soothing and I almost fell asleep by the end of it 🙂

 

Oils Used and a Balinese Tradition

The Moroccan oil used in the treatment was a combination of both Argan and Jasmine oils.

Benefits of Argan oil:

  • Helps relieve muscle tension.
  • Promotes hair growth. It can be used in scalp massage as well.
  • Highly effective in moisturizing dry skin and hair.

Benefits of Jasmine oil:

Jasmine can significantly aid in the rejuvenation of the skin and in making women look younger. My Balinese therapist explained to me how Indonesian ladies eat fresh Jasmine petals in search of a youthful complexion. She also told me about a famous Indonesian movie actress who at 95 years of age looked as though she was only 40, simply because she followed a regular “Jasmine Petal” diet 🙂

My therapist hadn’t tried it though. I think we can safely stick to the jasmine oil for now 🙂

 

My Massage Therapist

Luh Sri is the only Balinese therapist at Elixir Spa. With over seven years of experience in various spa treatments at world-class properties; including a couple of years at the Hyatt hotel in Bali, she has the professionalism of a five-star hotel spa therapist. Not to mention the knowledge, friendliness, and positive spirit that are essential traits of any beauty therapist.

 

Will I make another visit?

I would love to go back to have another full body massage with Luh. Maybe next time I can try the hot stone massage, or another type of massage or treatment. In case I decide to make another visit, I will make sure to check the offers before booking and to make use of the locker room facilities such as the sauna and steam room should they be included in the treatment package.

 

Conclusion

The staff at the reception need to be informed of all the promotional offers (and their perks). And they must be trained to convey complete information to the clients.Whether these guests are visiting from outside the hotel or are staying at the resort.

I believe that the spa management can do more to attract outside clients as well as in-house hotel guests. At least that was the message that I got from the way the promotion and my booking were handled.

 

Contact Link

http://grandjumeirah.habtoorhotels.com/site/general/LeisureAndSpa.aspx

 

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Dubai Beach Club Review: Talise Fitness, Madinat Jumeirah

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A strong instinct told me that I must have a look at the latest issue of Time Out Dubai while I was standing at the magazine stand the other day. To my amusement, The latest issue’s cover read: “Battle of the Beach Clubs”! The timing was perfect as I was planning to visit and review a couple of Dubai beach clubs this summer.

After reading the detailed description and comparison table for the different beach clubs, I decided to head to Talise Fitness, Madinat Jumeirah for my next review and make use of their fabulous summer offer.

 

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Beach and Pool Access

The day pass gives you access to the 3km long private beach stretching from Al Qasr extravagant hotel to Jumeirah Beach Hotel, in addition to the two pools (one is at Mina Al Salam hotel and the other is at Al Qasr hotel).

Pros

  • The staff at the Talise Fitness club reception and the beach and pools were very friendly, attentive and helpful.
  • The facilities including the rest rooms were always clean and well-maintained.
  • The cushions on the deck chairs were very comfortable.
  • There are private cabanas available free of charge.
  • The tent-designed cabanas at the Al Qasr side of the beach can be rented for 500 AED per day.
  • The beach and pool are not too busy; average crowd.
  • Quiet beach, great for reading a book.
  • 3km long private, enclosed beach means a lot of room for swimming and chilling in the ocean.
  • The loungers are within close proximity to the water.

 

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I was informed by the water sports rental staff person that the weather in Dubai this year has been remarkably pleasant, compared to the usual scorching heat that hits the region at this time of the year. Normally, the temperatures soar starting June and up until the end of September. But luckily, the summer this year has started on a lighter note. And let’s hope that it stays that way for a while!

There even was a cool breeze at the end of the day as we approached sunset. And I found myself commenting on a Facebook status which spoke about cool weather conditions at a nearby venue, and saying that I was also enjoying the cool temperatures at the beach at Mina Al Salam hotel.

Unlike my previous beach trip when the beach was flagged and the waves were manic, this Friday witnessed quiet waves and cool water temperatures. But don’t worry, Talise Fitness beach always keeps the beach goers informed of the ocean and weather status. Check out their boards and signs with weather and water forecasts.

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Where to have Lunch

The beach waiters can bring your food order from the pool bar straight to your lounger if you were too lazy to leave your comfy deck chair. You can also head to the pool bar and eat at one of the tables like I did. Or if you were with someone or a group of people, then you might want to have lunch at one of the many multi-cuisine restaurants available at both Mina Al Salam and Al Qasr hotels.

I went for a prime beef burger with a side green salad. And I had a beach punch mixed fruit mocktail.

 

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The Pool at Mina Al Salam Hotel

The Pool at Mina Al Salam Hotel

 

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My Friday Beach Buddy :)

My Friday Beach Buddy 🙂

 

Iced-coffee!

Iced-coffee!

 

I must say that the iced-coffee was a let-down, since it was basically ice cubes dropped into a glass of coffee. I think I was still craving the highly refreshing iced-coffee that I had at The Habtoor Grand Beach Club. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can read all about it here.

As the time came close to sunset, I decided to go and try out the largest leisure pool in Dubai at Al Qasr hotel. Access to the pool is included in the beach and pool day pass. To get there, you can either walk, take a buggy, or the water abra. I opted for the famous Dubai lifestyle transport: the lovely buggy car.

 

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It's time to hit the pool!

It’s time to hit the pool!

 

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Dubai's Largest Leisure Pool at Al Qasr Hotel

Dubai’s Largest Leisure Pool at Al Qasr Hotel

 

The pool at Al Qasr hotel was designed to be not too deep with families and kids in mind. The water temperature at the pool is centrally controlled throughout the year to adjust to the changing weather temperatures. So the water temperature was just right when I went in for a swim. What’s unique about the pool at Al Qasr is that there are two wild ducks swimming and fluttering their wings on its expansive surface! The ducks (named Chip and Dale by one of the life guards) are imported from overseas to spend three months in Dubai (June, July and August) before re-breeding and then going back to their hometown. It felt so relaxing and soothing to swim in Al Qasr’s wide and elegant pool. And the pair of ducks’ floating on the water made the experience even more calming and peaceful.

 

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Downside

  • This beach club has a very polished, glamorous and posh edge to it. It might not appeal to everyone.
  • The quietness of the beach makes it a bit on the boring side.
  • There’s no music or DJ playing. Which means that the only sounds you will be hearing are other people’s conversations or the sound of speeding jet skis.
  • The place lacks in character, soul and a strong identity. Its ultra chic and glamorous look leaves no room for a spontaneous feel.
  • The beach lacks the lively ambiance and fun vibe that I find and like about Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa’s beach club.
  • Jebel Ali Beach Club makes for a great escape from the city, since it’s located in an isolated resort. While you can’t get that same feel with Talise Fitness beach. Seeing the Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Beach Hotel and the sky scrapers on Sheikh Zayed Road while swimming in the ocean, makes it difficult not to feel that you are still in the heart of the city!

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Who Should Visit?

If you are looking for a quiet beach to relax after a long work week or would like to read your book in peace, then this beach club could be the right pick. But if you are someone who’s looking for a vibrant and busy beach atmosphere, then this beach club might not appeal to you.

Will I go again?

I must admit that I plan on going back for two reasons:

  1. To see the beautiful orange and red hues of light as the sun sets at the beach. I didn’t get to see them this time because I wanted to head to the pool early.
  2. To make the most out of their summer promotion day pass fees which lasts until September 10.

Bonus Tip

Free Wi-Fi is available at the beach and at all Madinat Jumeirah properties. So you can easily check your e-mail, or browse the web and Facebook from the comfort of your sun lounger 🙂

 

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Summer Promotion

The regular fee for the day pass is 495 AED inclusive of a 150 AED food and beverage voucher. However, during the summer months until September 10, you can get the day pass for just 250 AED (without food and beverage) for adults. And for kids aged between 1 to 15 years old, the entrance fee is 150 AED. The fees are valid for both week days and weekends alike.

Timings

  • The beach is open from 9 am till sunset.
  • The pools are open from 9 am until 9 pm.

Contact Information

Should you require any additional information, you can contact Talise Fitness by checking their web site:

https://www.jumeirah.com/MJTaliseFitness

 

You can also read some facts about the beach club at the following Time Out Dubai article:

http://www.timeoutdubai.com/gallery/41718-best-beach-clubs-in-dubai?image=16

 

 

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Dubai Spa Review: Zen Asia Spa

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Zen Asia Spa is your local area type of spa. The one that is conveniently located within walking distance from where you live. And since I happen to live a few blocks away from their JLT branch, I decided to drop in one day to try their back massage treatment.

Facts

  • The spa offers a wide array of services ranging from Moroccan baths and slimming treatments, nail and hair care services, to waxing, threading and massage treatments.
  • They have two locations in Dubai; one in Jumeirah Lakes Towers and the other in International City.
  • They offer gift vouchers, loyalty programs, customized packages and children spa birthday parties.

 

My Personal Experience

I try to get a back massage whenever I get the chance and time. And I usually go for chain massage centers, reflexology centers, or hotel spas. This time however, I decided to try a place located in my area. Mainly to save on the time and hassle required to reach the place. But also because I heard and read a lot about Zen Asia Spa and I was curious to try it out for myself.

The Therapist

My therapist was a friendly lady from India. Her name was Fatima. I found out from her after the treatment that she is a physiotherapist. Therefore, she knows the right spots to exert pressure on the back or body. I prefer a strong massage and I asked for that when I called to book my appointment. I also informed Fatima about it before the start of the treatment.

Overall Impression

I have to note one thing that I found different from other massage treatments that I had in this country. The therapist was practicing some breathing techniques (not sure if they were intended or not), but this made me feel a bit uncomfortable during my treatment. It took away from the “professionalism” of the massage and place. It kind of set the line between the chain reflexology centers and the hotel spas and the “local area” massage place.

I don’t want to sound obnoxious and I didn’t go there expecting a five-star treatment or service. But at the same time, I was hoping not to feel a considerable amount of difference in the service level and quality of treatment.

Prices

The 30-minute back massage costs 85 AED

Will I Make Another Visit

Honestly, only if I didn’t feel like taking the metro or cab to another place. And wanted to just walk a few blocks (hopefully not in the mid-afternoon like this time) to get a reasonable massage.

Cons

After I had paid, the lady at the reception didn’t seem to care to reply to my good-bye or to even put some effort into maintaining a good relationship with a client who may decide to make another visit. I found this to be the case in many service establishments in Dubai. Except that for massage centers in particular, I think they should pay more attention to their friendliness and behavior with their clients if they wanted to retain them and grow their business. Maybe they could train their staff on customer service or any other related courses.

But I will leave the decision for you ladies to make. If you have tried Zen Asia Spa before, what did you think? what services did you try? which branch did you visit?

If you haven’t then I would recommend it as an option if you live in the JLT area, and would like to go for a massage but are tight on time.

After all, I am called the Rebellious Saudi Diva 😉

 

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Dubai Beach Club Review: Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa

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Last Friday, I decided to check out The Habtoor Grand Beach Resort and Spa. Although the beach was flagged on that day, I still managed to go for a nice swim at two different times, with each lasting for around an hour. Yes, I’m a cancerian and we just love to be in the water 🙂

 

Facts About the Beach Area

For anyone who has never been to the beach in Dubai Marina (I honestly haven’t until this time!), you will notice that the loungers are located at a far distance from the water. I was told by a staff member that it is a government rule and that all of the beach clubs on that strip have a similar setup. It was a bit of a disappointment to me as I had previously gone to the Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa where the loungers are situated close to the sea shore. You can read that review here.

 

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Chilled Friday Read

Chilled Friday Read

 

Resort Facilities

The resort has a wide number of facilities including:

  • Tennis and squash courts
  • Spa and state of the art gym
  • Fitness studio and classes
  • Junior Jungle Club for kids
  • Private beach with various beach activities
  • Water slides, outdoor Jacuzzi and pool bar
  • Main pool and a kids pool

 

Tennis Courts

Tennis Courts

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Kiddie Pool

Kiddie Pool

 

Where to have Lunch

There are many options for lunch at the Habtoor Grand.

  1. If you are alone or want to have a light lunch at the beach or pool area, then you could order a shawerma, burger or hot dog and other snacks from the “Al Manarah Beach Bar” or the pool bar.
  2. If you want to try the famous Dubai brunch with barbeque and all, then you could have a nice outdoor brunch at XL Beach Club. That will cost you 260 AED per person. The brunch timings are from 1 to 4 pm.
  3. If like me, you want to have a healthier meal at and sample one of the restaurants at the hotel…there are a number of cuisines to choose from. “Villa Romana”, “Al Basha”, “Fish Bazaar” and “Luciano’s” are some of the restaurants surrounding the beach and pool area at the resort.

Upon reading Pinay Flying High‘s tempting review on Luciano’s, I decided to go there for lunch and a break from the Dubai day in the sun! I’m glad that I did because the food was so delicious that I found myself looking for more tomato sauce on my plate when I finished eating 🙂

 

Prawns with garlic tomato sauce

Prawns with garlic tomato sauce

View from my table at Luciano's

View from my table at Luciano’s

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Peacocks in this resort too!

Peacocks in this resort too!

 

My Must-try Tip

After my second hour in the water, I felt like I needed to have an energizing drink to keep my body hydrated. While standing at the beach bar, my eyes couldn’t stop staring at the tall glasses the couple standing next to me had. When I asked the lady what it was, she explained that it’s an iced-coffee with ice-cream and that it’s really good. So, that was what I decided to order to quench my thirst. And another couple who saw the bar tender make my drink ordered it as well! It was the perfect ending for my long day at the beach. As the coffee wasn’t too sweet (vanilla ice-cream only was used to sweeten it), and it was so refreshing after a day out in the sun.

 

Refreshing Iced-Coffee!

Refreshing Iced-Coffee!

 

Pool and Beach Entrance Rates

On Week Days: Adults – 150 AED, Children – 100 AED

Children ages: 4 – 15 years old, below 3 are free of charge.

On Weekends: Adults – 250 AED, Children – 125 AED

Weekends are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Club Memberships are available and special membership rates apply.

 

Link

http://grandjumeirah.habtoorhotels.com/site/general/

 

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