Sam Lewis heads to Hotel Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa for a thalassotherapy treatment
The therapy to try
Thalassotherapy Escape (120 minutes). First, I have a 30-minute soak in a hydro bath where the saltwater is heated to 34-38C and powerful jets massage my body. A full-body scrub follows using salt from France, rinsed off with a Vichy shower using fresh seawater. Mud is then applied, my body is wrapped in foil and I’m left to snooze for 30 minutes. After a quick shower, there’s a 30-minute back and neck massage using an oil of my choice.
A relaxing, pampering treatment that eased aching muscles. While I’m not a fan of wraps and exfoliations, I did enjoy the hydrotherapy bath, although next time I’d opt to try the handheld vacuum suction jet to reduce the appearance of cellulite. The massage with this package lasts only 30 minutes, but my therapist, Gloria, also a trained physiotherapist, worked wonders in the time given, releasing muscle tension in my neck and suggesting a series of stretches for me to run through at home.
Featuring the only thalassotherapy facility in the region, this spa has French flair and a serene atmosphere. There are two saltwater pools to swim in but they lack underwater jets. Sadly, there’s no outdoor space, and the sauna and steam rooms are small. However, treatment rooms are well equipped, therapists are well trained and the spa menu is substantial and includes facials and rituals using Anne Semonin and Phytomer products. Some guests book a six- or seven-day weight-loss package and the hotel’s onsite restaurants will help guests stick to a flavoursome calorie counted diet.
Overlooking the Arabian Gulf with a small sandy beach, this hotel is just 30 minutes from Bahrain International Airport and close to the Bahrain International Circuit and Rashid Horse Racing Complex. Expect a casual beach vibe and warm Arabian interior design, with lanterns, potted palms and local artefacts. There’s a wide choice of restaurants, from seafood to Italian and Vietnamese, while a tapas bar offers live music and shisha. Alcohol is served throughout the hotel and there’s a memorable buffet breakfast and Friday brunch. Other facilities include a beach club, gym, tennis, squash courts and outdoor pool.
A total of 262 luxurious rooms and suites offer balconies and sea views. Decor is warm and luxurious, with hardwood furniture and large comfortable beds. Bathrooms feature rainshowers and standalone baths but not all offer coffee machines. Opt for a suite on the club (sixth) floor for the best package.
Couples and families (there’s a kids’ club) looking for an upmarket hotel with a relaxed beach vibe and excellent spa.
Double rooms from BHD65 (£123) for superior room with pool and garden views on weekedays and BHD 75 (142) on weekends. Treatments from BHD50 (£94) for a 60-minute massage and BHD 80 (£151) for the Thalassa 120-minute escape.
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