Alexandria is home to many things, literary and historical characters, wonderful seafood and ancient ruins. This once glamorous seaside city is slowly but surely reviving its luster.
Today, Alexandria offers a retreat from the chaos of Cairo, particularly during the winter and spring seasons when the throngs of tourists leave the city. The Four Seasons San Stefano stands tall above Alexandria’s coastline and offers perhaps the best refuge of all: a unique spa experience.
Alexandria was the setting for much of Cleopatra’s shenanigans; it was also where she came to indulge in relaxing treatments and baths. The spa fittingly offers a Pharaonic Massage treatment to indulge the Cleopatra in me.
During the 60-minute lavishly strong massage, aromatic poultices filled with fresh chamomile and mint soothe the skin. It was heaven sent.
My Balinese masseuse was one of the many staff members handpicked by San Stefano’s spa management. Friendly and courteous, my anxieties were laid to rest as she explained what she would do to relieve the knots in my body. She asked a few questions that optimized my massage experience.
Any areas she should focus on? Neck and shoulders, please.
How strong should the strokes be? Medium.
Could she get me anything? Thanks, I was already in a blissful state.
Fresh towels are stacked in the private massage rooms, where the smell of flowers and scented oils permeate the air. Dimly lit, warm and cozy, it was the perfect place to relax and forget the world outside.
Bergamot, lavender and eucalyptus oils relax the muscles and stimulate blood flow. Poured generously, the masseuse worked patiently and thoroughly on each knot and area I asked her to.
After finishing, I was bundled into a quilted bathrobe to maintain the warm body temperature, and was led to the relaxation lounge where large reclining chairs, magazines, shiny apples and beverages are available to guests.
Sipping karkadeh and munching on a green apple, I had time to ponder why it is that I like to visit Alexandria so often, and why I particularly like to frequent the San Stefano spa.
Alexandria is invigorating. Its very people and scenery revive me, and the spa touches on that very same state of mind. It is the only spa in Egypt I’ve personally visited that has maintained high standards and demanded that from its staff and facilities. This was not my first visit, and it won’t be my last.
The spa’s facilities are large and the services available are varied: massages, facials, beauty treatments, as well as body cleansing and slimming treatments are available for women and men.
Spacious from inside, the spa boasts plunge pools, Jacuzzis, steam rooms and saunas, as well as a gym, with separate quarters for men and women.
But it’s the discreet gestures that speak to me. I spent some time in the steam room, which is big enough for 20 and is reminiscent of Greco-Roman bathhouses complete with marble interiors. The lavender soaked moist towelette waiting for me outside, chilling in a bowl of iced water, helped cool my face and arms down. Who conjures up these thoughtful gestures I wonder?
Finishing off my self-indulgent afternoon under a rainfall showerhead, I couldn’t help but laugh at Cleopatra as well as all her ancient sisters. With such treatments being de rigueur, how could they not be beautiful?
The Four Seasons San Stefano is offering a Spa Bliss Package for LE 2,000, inclusive of service charge and taxes, with six 60-minute massages redeemable until Dec. 31, 2009.
A veritable steal for the wonderful experience at the Four Seasons San Stefano spa, I’m hoping to indulge in such a package myself.
Four Seasons Alexandria, San Stefano SpaTel.: (203) 581 8000 Ext. 2600