It’s a Wrap – a Dead Sea Spa Experience to (almost) Die for

In my “normal” life, I tend to be the kind of guy who can’t stop doing stuff all day. I get very antsy if I don’t have something to entertain my mind for long periods of time. When I travel, though, I sometimes like the opposite of that. I do value my down time, and since I do my best to stay at somewhat luxurious properties, I always take a peek at the spa menu to see if there are any treatments on offer that can either help me relax or invigorate me so I can keep exploring.

Last week, while we were traveling through Jordan, we had the chance to stay at a hotel in the Dead Sea, but since we’re in the middle of the winter and it was slightly colder than I would have liked (we got snow), I couldn’t go into the lake waters. I was determined I wasn’t going to miss out on my chance to get a Dead Sea mud treatment though.

Marriott Petra Spa, from Marriott.com

Marriott Petra Spa, from Marriott.com

While they are all the rage and everyone raves about them and all the benefits to your skin, I honestly have no idea how it is they’re supposed to work or what treatments exactly there are. In spas I often go for massages as I get rather tense when I travel and that helps me get going.

That’s how I got roped into the ‘relaxing Dead Sea mud wrap’ treatment at the Petra Marriott a few days later. I had mentioned to them my skin was very dry from hours of flying plus the desert sun exposure, so they said this would be ideal for such conditions, so I went for it with no hesitation.

It’s worth mentioning that I had never had a wrap, so apologies if my description ends up being too comical, but it just turned out that way. When we checked in for our appointments, they escorted us into the steam room and said they’d pick us up in fifteen minutes, which I assumed was to get our pores to open up. The door to the steam room had – in previous lives – been made of thick glass, but had since been replaced by some sort of white plastic which had curved inwards from the heat and allowed for about a 2-inch gap between the frame and the panel.

Immediately after that we were whisked into the treatment rooms, which are segregated into male and female areas. The problem? There’s only one treatment room per area, so I ended up being taken into the female section. Nothing helps me relax more than the idea of being almost naked for a mud treatment inside the females-only section of the spa in a Muslim country. We’re off to a great start.

I was asked to climb on top of a marble table – think sacrificial altar from any movie – that was at the perfect temperature to fry eggs. It was covered with what can best be described by a giant sheet of Reynold’s wax paper, which made it scary slippery. I needed help getting up as being 5” 7’, my attempts to Cirque du Soleil on top of the slab only resulted in me sliding over the wax paper.

Once safely on top, the therapist proceeded to rub Dead Sea mud all over my arms, chest and legs. I will admit this was the best part of the treatment, as gross as it sounds. The mud is somewhat smooth and feels great on contact with the skin, and the rubbing does some gentle exfoliation which feels great. The light massaging action felt great after a few days of walking around ten miles a day.

After she was done applying the mud, she picked up the left side of the overhanging Reynold’s wrap and folded it over me, then went around and did the same with the right side, then placed a large full body size towel on top. Picture me in supine position, wrapped in paper and covered with a towel – like a Chipotle burrito if you will – resting on a hot marble surface.

Before we went in for our *relaxing* treatments

Before we went in for our *relaxing* treatments

She then proceeded to cleanse my face with some sort of product which had a fantastic smell to it, but I never knew what it was. She covered my eyes with cotton pads, and I knew when it was time for my face go get the Dead Sea mud applied to because of the squirting sounds. She began rubbing it on my forehead and cheeks, then nose and chin. That’s when the intense burning started. And I do mean intense. So intense that I started wincing in discomfort. ‘Oh yes, sir, it burns’, she said at that point, which had been the first thing uttered since we started. ‘It’s the mud working.’ This must be what it feels like to be turned into carne asada for a burrito, I thought.

I was informed I had to relax this way, and that she’d be back in about ten minutes. I tried clearing my mind but all I could do was a countdown to the second this would all be over. The whole treatment was scheduled for an hour, and I knew I had spent 15 minutes in the steam room. I was sure it had been maybe twenty minutes of mud body scrub, and maybe a total of five for the facial. That meant I still had about twenty minutes left of this death by exfoliation relaxation technique, which I don’t need to explain to you it felt like at least an hour.

All the while I could hear steps in the treatment room, which now had the lights off. Three hours into this twenty-minute wait, I started wondering whether those were the steps of women going into the all-female section of the facilities. I instantly achieved whatever the opposite of extreme relaxation is, added to the fact I had now been on top of a hot, hard surface in the same position for a long time. My body was aching from stiffness, plus the stinging from the mud gave me the impression I was dissolving all the way down to my bones.

Mere seconds before I executed my plan to roll over and off the table while mummified in mud and my own cooking jus and made a run for it, the therapist arrived and removed the towel and the wrap, handed me a clean towel, which immediately turned muddy in my hands, and said the treatment was done. I rinsed off the mud and to my surprise, none of my skin or flesh went with it, but my blood pressure was so low I had to lay on the shower floor for a few minutes.

That’s where Jon found me – after he had quit HIS treatment halfway through, during the setting-your-face-on-fire part – and dragged me to the locker room to get dressed up again. I did no more than ten steps and Linda Blair’ed all over the place, while the therapist asked us if we wanted to fill out a feedback form and offered us the bill for our Mud Wrap Relaxing treatments…. 

At least it was 25% less painful because of our Titanium Ambassador status

At least it was 25% less painful because of our Titanium Ambassador status

I don’t think I’ll be brave enough to try another relaxing wrap treatments anytime soon at any spas whatsoever, but I would totally recommend the Dead Sea mud treatment minus the torture, I guess, since my skin has never looked more radiant!

Author: Ben Nickel-D'Andrea

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1 Comment

  1. I was really feeling sorry for you (and imagining Jon was having a similar experience) but it was difficult because I couldn’t stop laughing at your narrative. One of the reasons I love your blogs so much.

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