About 50km from Madaba in Jordan, I check into a Movenpick hotel, the Movenpick Dead Sea Resort & Spa, a luxury resort on the shores of the Dead Sea. It’s the lowest point on earth and the ancient site of Sodom and Gomorrah. The other drawcard is its abnormally high salt content, which allows bathers to bob in the water like corks.
Where is it?
But the Dead Sea is not actual a sea. It’s actually a lake that lies 400m below sea level. It has the highest salt concentration in the world, contains 21 minerals (12 of which can be only found in these waters). The rich black mud along the shoreline is believed to offer health benefits such as increasing circulation, easing discomfort from arthritis, healing allergies and revitalizing the skin.
What’s the vibe like?
In recent years, new luxury spa resorts that have sprouted along its shores have made it easier for health-conscious travellers to enjoy a healing holiday in the region. Most of the spas charge a minimal fee for resort guests to use the facilities and around JD50 (US$68) for day visitors who are not guests of that particular resort.
What facilities are there?
After spending hours relaxing in Zara Spa’s five pools, I book in for a Dead Sea mud wrap and salt scrub, which is an invigorating experience.
Zara Spa has several pools including an indoor pool filled with water (naturally from the Dead Sea), a whirlpool heated to body temperature and an infinity pool with calming views over the Dead Sea. But the central feature is the Hydro-Pool, which is a massive outdoor heated pool with 3% salt concentration, massage jets and whirlpools.
The spa also has separate steam rooms, fitness rooms, soap massage rooms, laconiums (rooms with heated beds for soothing aching joints) and relaxation lounges for men and women.
Tell me about the resort
The resort sits on a hill and stretches down to the shore of the Dead Sea, where a few bathers are bobbing in the water. I join the group of people slathering mud over arms, legs, body and face before plunging into the salty lake.
A sign tells me that the water contains calcium (to clarify the skin and relieve pain), sodium (to balance the skin’s pH), chlorine (to boosts the skin’s protective layer and remove swelling), magnesium (to enhance skin metabolism and ward off allergies), and bromine (to relax the muscles and facilitate breathing).
Lying on my back in the water while gazing at the West Bank – a territory that has been the subject of dispute between Palestine and Israel for much of the last century – makes me feel like I’m floating in a dream.
Zara Spa, Movenpick Dead Sea Resort & Spa (Swaimeh, Dead Sea Road, T: +962 5 356 1111) is one of the best spa’s in Jordan. The resort is designed to resemble a traditional village.
Six Senses Spa, Evason Ma’in Hot Springs (Ma’In; T: +962 5 324 5500) sits beneath a natural hot spring waterfall that cascades into the main swimming pool. Treatments take advantage of the therapeutic properties of the mineral-rich waters and include healing mineral and deep sea therapies combined with Asian and Six Senses signature treatments.
Anantara Spa, Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea (Swaimeh, Dead Sea Road, T: +962 5 356 8888) offers ayurvedic and other Asian therapies, steam rooms, saunas and a Hammam.
Jordan Valley Marriott Resort & Spa (Swaimeh, Dead Sea Road, T: +962 5 3560400) is one of the largest spas and has a range of therapies.