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Daily News


Manuela Thai Spa surprises Cairo spa goers 
Published in Daily News Egypt on 02 - 04 - 2010 

I am still feeling deliciously gooey after yesterday's deep tissue massage at Manuela Thai Spa but I will do my best to remain coherent.
Mauela's greatest strength lies in the talented hands of its masseurs. I should note that my experience was limited to only one treatment, a deep tissue massage, while a friend received the Thai Herbal Heat Treatment. I hope to return to sample other offerings on their treatment menu, perhaps the Japanese Lulur Body Scrub or the Milk and Honey bath, but for now I can only describe this first experience.
If you go, ask for my masseuse, Jenny. She took longer than the 60 minutes allotted to me, generously continuing for almost an hour and a half. Beginning with my legs she concentrated on the trouble spots in my back, using elbows, palms and fingers to direct the long-suffering muscles to finally, mercifully, let go of their eternal knots. Weeks hunched over a computer evaporated under her care as I drifted off into la-la land.
She moved on, carefully kneading my entire body with lavish amounts of almond oil. Hands, ears and scalp, too often neglected by masseurs, received special attention. After the indulgently extended massage, (I just thought I must have lost track of time), she sat me up to better access the final vestiges of tension in my shoulders. The knots surrendered completely, and Jenny quietly slipped out, leaving me to re-emerge into the world, dazed. Pulling my clothes back onto my oiled skin left me wishing for a shower and a loofah, although today my skin still carries the extra softness.
Although Jenny's efforts nearly made up for it, the spa itself leaves a bit to be desired. On the second floor of a small but busy street in Mohandisseen, honking regularly drowned out the mood music. A clock ticking in the massage room initially seemed a distracting manifestation of the passage of time, though I eventually forgot to listen to it.
At first glance, the décor looks charming. Rich oranges and reds against dark wood produce an effect of exotic luxury. The overall layout is well executed, with a large reception area for clients to lounge in before and after treatment.
I owe our experience to my friend, and the reception area-she had found the spa when purchasing a treatment for a friend, "I was hooked by the front room, the whole experience begins as soon as you step in.
Who ever decorated took care with the details, adding scores of Buddhas, candles, sparkles and plants. However, after sitting down on the piles of glittering pillows, our initial impression of quiet left us wishing that the fountain in the middle of the floor would play. My friend noticed the lack first, and pointed out that the sound of falling water is one of the easiest ways to evoke calm. The sunken stream in the floor and the rivulets under a Buddha in the corner appear designed for water to flow, but it unfortunately did not.
We waited about five minutes, chewing on the decidedly indulgent, if not purifying, caramels sitting on the table. We received flip-flops and were escorted into our respective rooms, similarly equipped with both a high and low massage bed.
My friend said of her experience, "I'm still relaxed, 24 hours later. I can still feel the oil in my skin, it is smoother, and it elongates the experience.
Comparing our massages, she said they sound similar, only that hers included the addition of warm herbal compresses applied to the skin.
"I could feel it relieving physical and emotional tension, she sighed.
Still, some aspects of the décor appeared a bit worse for wear. In the bathroom for example, the pleasing effect of a large ornamental mirror and uniquely Zen faucet was offset by the inexpert paint job and mismatched candles.
Overly picky? Perhaps. But Manuela's is lovely enough that with a bit more attention, and perhaps more sound proofing, the experience could nearly rival the spa at the Four Seasons, offering greater affordability and nearly the same sense of escape.

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