Fit for purpose

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Sourcing the right materials is particularly important in a spa setting.

Designers need to co-ordinate more closely with spa professionals when creating their wellness facilities, according to Eduard Dimitriu, spa manager at the One & Only Spa at the new One & Only, The Palm, Dubai.

Some seemingly-innocuous design elements can be hazardous or difficult to maintain from an operational point of view, Dimitriu explained. They can also be very costly to correct.

“For example, we had marble in the heat experiences area, right in between the steam room and the sauna and the showers. That was incredibly dangerous. So we had to go back and sandblast it to provide some traction.

“Another example was wood flooring in the treatment suite. The designers chose this beautiful timber and wanted to keep it as natural as possible. Until we had our first treatment and the person walked over the floor with oil on their feet and their footprints were imprinted all over the place.

“The oil was immediately absorbed into this beautiful timber. So we had to put another three or four layers of coating on it. There’s no point buying something expensive and then having to go in and change it because it doesn’t work properly,” Dimitriu said.

One material that does work well in the spa environment is mosaics, Dimitriu noted. In the One & Only Spa, which was designed by WA International, mosaics are used extensively in shower areas, in the Rhassoul chamber, and in the couple’s suite.

Each treatment room features its own dedicated changing and shower area, which also offers a built-in, private steam experience. With its iridescent sheen and intricate detailing, the mosaics, which were supplied by Sicis, add life to the showers, counteracting that overly sanitised, “morgue-like” effect found in many shower areas, Dimitriu said.

The design uses Sicis’ Loasies line, a detailed floral motif that has been echoed on wallpaper and mirrors throughout the spa.

“We used the Loasies design but had to adjust it according to each area. Most of our work is about customised design. You can find this line in our catalogues but you can make any changes that you want – to the colours or to the design itself,” explained Tareq AbuRoza, managing director, Sicis Middle East and Gulf.

With its water repellent and highly durable qualities, it is little wonder that mosaics are such a familiar feature in spa facilities, AbuRoza commented.

“Mosaics have always found a place in the spa,” Dimitriu agreed. “Since early Greek and Roman baths, there has always been a culture of mosaics in the spa.”

Apropriate lighting is also crucial in a spa setting. At the One & Only, the spa is illuminated by over 70 hand-crafted fixtures by Czech glass specialist, Preciosa, which also provided lighting for much of the rest of the hotel.

In the spa, the lighting is designed in a predominantly contemporary style. In line with recent trends, there are ceiling fixtures made of airy clusters of hand-blown crystal, suspended on thin strands.

Two-metre tall floor lamps decorated with precise laser-cut designs are complemented by a variety of ornamental table lamps and sconces. Outdoor lanterns are another stylish addition.

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