That’s a Wrap

Jordan offers clients a muddy good time

By: Riana Lagarde

Where can you tread in Biblical footsteps, ride a camel though a UNESCO World Heritage Site (the carved red-rock city of Petra), get wrapped in the most nutrient-rich mud in the world and then float on the Dead Sea? For pampering par excellence in a historical desert oasis, the crown goes to the spas in the Kingdom of Jordan. Just 45 minutes from Queen Alia d’Amman International Airport, the Dead Sea Valley is an oasis like no other.

My sanctuary was the Movenpick Dead Sea Resort and Spa. In touch with desert heritage and the surrounding wilderness, the grounds are a labyrinth of stone arches in desert rock, decorated with climbing bougainvilleas and waterfalls. The stylish, low-rise 340 rooms and suites each have private balconies. In the center, reminiscent of an Arabic village, there are delicious restaurants to choose from, all with a view of the sea and its spectacular sunsets.

Movenpick’s luxurious stadium-sized spa, Zara, is where my spiritual quest to unwind, revitalize and refresh my mind, body and soul began. My packed spa day started with a full-body Dead Sea mud wrap to remove toxins. A therapist slathered me with the thick, green primordial goo and then swathed me in plastic wrap. After a rainforest shower, I relaxed in the massage chairs and sipped herbal tea until my therapist came to fetch me for some holistic acupuncture and massage. After a facial, hamman, dry sauna and whirlpool, I was ready for a dip or I should say a float in the Dead Sea. Afterward, I sunbathed and ordered drinks by the private, cliff-side pool (for spa guests only) and drifted into the serenity of the Holy Land.

In addition to the Movenpick, there is the equally first-class Marriott resort next door (both properties are five-star). The Marriott Dead Sea offers the same amenities as its neighbor, as well as exotic outdoor tents with rich red carpets, cushy divans and sheesha pipes. At night belly dancers entertain guests under the twinkling stars. Their spa has a large variety of therapeutic massages, beauty treatments and all-inclusive packages.

Besides the revitalizing spas, the country is breathtaking. Surely one of the modern-day seven wonders of the world is Petra, the pre-Roman Nabataean capital. Sheer red mountain cliffs crack open to reveal a chasm filled with carved tombs, houses and theaters carved out into the rock. There are also numerous biblical sites along the historical Kings Highway. Clients can rent four-wheelers and ride into Wadi Rum, visit a real Bedouin village and go to Amman’s souks to shop for rugs, antiques and handicrafts native to Jordan. Both hotels have car services and Hertz is located in the lobby of Movenpick. For desert tours, treks and excursions set up packages through the Jordan Tourism Board. They have a comprehensive list of inbound tour operators.

This side of the Dead Sea is far more tranquil than the booming high-rise hotels across the water in Israel and half the price. But Jordan is keeping up with tourists’ demands: Movenpick is adding new beachfront guestrooms that will be completed by June of this year, and in 2007, another luxury spa hotel will join the ranks in the Dead Sea valley. In addition, Zara Group is building a world-class resort in the southern Red Sea Port of Aqaba with two golf courses, a marina and 17 kilometers of beaches. Clients will have to wait for this ambitious Ayla Oasis, however, as the estimated date of completion is in 12 years.

In the meantime, there is the newly opened, five-star InterContinental Aqaba Resort on the Red Sea, known for its incredible diving. The ultra-lux InterContinental has fabulous views of the Red Sea, a private beach and rooms with decks over the water, as well as a spa and gym.

From Dead Sea to Red Sea and everything in between, Jordan has much to offer clients.

CONTACT

Movenpick Resort and Spa
Dead Sea, Jordan
800-346-8357
www.moevenpick-hotels.com

Marriott Resort and Spa Jordan Valley
888-236-2427
www.marriott.com
InterContinental Aqaba Resort
800-424-6835
www.ichotelsgroup.com

Jordan Tourism Board
Brochures available in many languages
877-733-5673
www.see-jordan.com
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