Riyadh's first female only spa to open in 2010

Preliminary approval granted for Saudi first

SPA FIRST: The first female only spa will open in Riyadh next year.
SPA FIRST: The first female only spa will open in Riyadh next year.

 The first female-only hotel spa in the Saudi Arabian city of Riyadh has preliminary approval and is set to open in March next year, hotel chiefs have said.

Al Faisaliah Hotel bosses say they are hoping to open their Sense Spa just ahead of the hotel’s 10th anniversary in May 2010. It comes with the opening of a brand new wing of 106 rooms that are currently under construction.

It will be the first female-only hotel spa in the city, and only the second in the conservative Islamic country. Rival hotel chain Park Hyatt is planning to open separate male and female spas in the more progressive city of Jeddah at the end of the year.

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“There are certain religious and social issues that come into play about taking care of yourself like that,” said Peter Finamore, the hotel’s managing director.

“Spas in Saudi Arabia have historically been more medical in their focus. We need to address the concern that our spa will be able to deal with medical needs, without it looking like a doctor’s surgery,” he said.

The spa is a Rosewood-branded Sense Spa, so will be “what the international traveller would expect” and will have private treatment rooms and a fitness centre.

Spas do exist in the kingdom, but there are scant and often underground, advertising as a different business in order to not attract attention of the kingdom’s religious police.

“We are setting trends for the kingdom. It’s been a learning curve for everyone involved,” said Khaled Al Idrissi, director of sales and marketing.

“Spas haven’t been part of the lifestyle of people in Saudi. Now that’s changing.”

Al Idrissi said because many young Saudis have been educated abroad, in the US and UK, they have a much more contemporary outlook. They are keen to keep up with global trends and have the money to spend on themselves.

“We’ve to look to the future to maintain our number one position. It’s easy to get to number one, but much harder to maintain it," he said.

“We will also have the opportunity that once the new wing is open we will renovate the existing hotel, so by the end of next year we will have, in effect, a new hotel,” he added.

Al Faisaliah is part of the American hotel chain Rosewood, which has 18 resorts around the world, mainly in the US, the Caribbean and Mexico.


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