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The Shrinking Violet Treatment At Anantara Spa Eastern Mangroves Hotel


What I expected: I was very excited about this treatment. According to the blurb it offered “immediate effects, with real inch loss which stays off.” Just in time for the summer holidays. And no need to diet. But at the same time I couldn’t see how I could lose weight in 90 minutes without chopping a limb off. Was it really possible? Or just another expensive treatment that promises everything but delivers very little.

What happened: It was my first visit to the Eastern Mangroves Hotel, and the welcome was warm enough to make me want to go back. Once in the spa I was shown to a waiting room, given a cup of cold ginger tea and a refreshing face towel. The light was one of those variable ones that bathe the room in different hues from calming green to warm pink and lilac. They have them on Etihad but instead of preparing you for a flight this was in the run-up to a treatment, so much more relaxing.

After a few minutes a very jolly therapist called Rufina came to collect me. I liked her immediately because she told me how thin I was! She also explained that the treatment is nothing short of miraculous. It breaks down cellulite, firms the skin, conditions it and reduces water retention. She has clients (male and female) who swear by it and come to see her once a month for a bit of toning.

I was told to undress and put on slippers and a toweling robe. Following this I stood on a bathroom mat while Rufina took measurements all over my body. She even measured my wrists, which I have to say are not my most troublesome spot! Then she scrubbed me all over with a rather hard brush. Next, she covered me in a glorious-smelling oil made of lavender, chamomile and soya. Then came the main part of the treatment; the wrapping. Rufina walked around my body with a roll of specially produced cling film that works with the oil to help with the shrinking. Every part of me was wrapped; my arms, legs, midriff, torso, even my shoulders. It was a bit like that scene from the film Shakespeare in Love where Joseph Fiennes unwraps Gwyneth from her bust-covering bandage, but in reverse. “You’re not claustrophobic are you?” asked Rufina. Happily, I’m not, but if you are, you really won’t like this treatment. By the time she had finished wrapping me up I felt like a cross between an Egyptian mummy and a vacuum-packed kipper!

When the time came for me to lie down on the treatment bed, Rufina had to basically lever me into position. She then placed some heated pillows strategically around the bits that needed more help (my stomach) or more warmth (my feet). On my eyes she put a lovely lavender scented, chilled eye cover. I made the mistake of thinking that it was now time to relax. “Have a sleep,” Rufina urged. But then she gave me a foot massage, expertly picking out all my weak points (a sore lower back for example), which was excruciatingly painful. “This will help to heal,” she told me, in an effort to take my mind off the pain. A head massage followed and then it was time to release me. It felt incredible just to be able to move. I leapt off the bed and waited while Rufina got her measuring tape out again.

The verdict: Readers, I lost a total of 24.5 centimeters. Incredible. The biggest difference was sadly not on my stomach, but around the top of my ribs for some reason. And my upper arms. Rufina was thrilled with the results. I was amazed there was such a big difference, in just half 45 minutes or so of being cocooned. I felt light (and very thirsty) for the rest of the day, and slept extremely well. The tape measure does not lie; this treatment really does work!

The Shrinking Violet Treatment is available at the Anantara Spa, Eastern Mangroves Hotel Abu Dhabi and costs AED 750 for a 90-minute treatment. A series of six wraps costs AED 3750. To book call 02 656 1146 or visit spa.anantara.com