Keeping the romance alive after marriage is no easy task. When her weekday getaway for one turned into a couples' Valentine's treatment at The Nile Ritz Carlton's luxurious spa, Amy Mowafi learned that sometimes all you need is to get a little muddy. Literally.
I’m always rather intrigued by those married couples who keep the flames of their passion roaring - or at least simmering - long after the honeymoon. How does one think of anything remotely romantic while negotiating kids, tantrums, tears, careers and carpools?
At the end of a long week at work, there are few things I look forward to more than handing the kids to mum, slipping into something a little more comfortable (my Marks & Spencer's fleece pajamas), getting under the duvet, and blanking out in front of Scandal/Empire/How to Get Away With Murder/Orange is the New Black. There is no candlelit dinner or naughty getaway that could entice me away from my well-deserved stupor. Except, maybe, the sumptuous new spa at The Nile Ritz Carlton.
Full disclosure: when I first received the email invite, I neglected to notice the bit that explained this was a romantic couples’ Valentine's treatment and accepted on purely selfish grounds - a chance to sneak out of the office on a weekday, and under the pretense of work, switch my phone off, and indulge in two straight hours of pampering. I told no one.
So, you can imagine my disappointment when I arrived and discovered that the presence of Mr. Y was not only requested but a requisite. The problem was not so much Mr. Y, of course, as the tremendous pressure and expectation to now be romantic. I tried to cast my mind back to the last time we had indulged in anything of this nature, and I had to dig all the way back to this one time in Sahl Hasheesh at a hotel aptly called Premiere Romance. It was the first time we had been away alone since my oldest, little Miss Maya, had been born. Giddy with our temporary freedom, we took the hotel's trite title to heart and I soon found myself pregnant with my second baby. To put things in context, that baby turns two years old in a couple of months.
But, one does not pass up an invite to one of the most exclusive (and expensive) treatments on the spa menu at one of the most luxurious hotels in the city just because one is too exhausted to be nice to one's husband. So I picked out the most excited looking emoji on my keypad and asked Mr. Y to join me at the Ritz for a lovely and sexy surprise.
Mr. Y replied with: "LOL."
Several strained calls followed before he took me seriously, and I used the time before he arrived to happily cosy up under a duvet in the spa's lush relaxation room while they laid on the cucumber water and herbal tea, and I flicked through the latest issue of Forbes Middle East, featuring the most powerful women in the Middle East, scouring for tips on how to run a company and a family and be both relaxed and romantic all at the same time.
The answer materialised in the form of The Peloid Treatment Chamber. While the word "chamber" is a rather odd one, conjuring up images of 50 Shades of Gray-inspired dungeons, I was assured it was nothing so illicit. As for the word Peloid, I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant, but it sounded painful - turns out it's just a posh word for mud. Like really sophisticated mud, which is different than mud fel shara3; it’s mineral rich and supposed to do wonders for your skin.
So off we trotted into our romantically lit Peloid Chamber of love - me, Mr. Y, and our little pots of mud. There we were, each laid down on a kind of massage table made of a marble/ceramic-style material, which slowly heats up and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy (perhaps even romantic?) inside as you are thoroughly scrubbed with all these overly exfoliating concoctions. I felt so sexy I promptly fell asleep. Like properly asleep, not the "four pairs of tiny hands and feet digging into your ribcage/mouth/stomach, then stumbling into the kitchen at 3 AM because someone really wants to eat Coco Pops and finding you received 65 Whatsapps from the office overnight and drowsily answering" type of asleep. Then, as I lay there, possibly snoring, I felt a wave of soapy warm water wash over me and, in that delicious place between sleep and awake, it was as if I was floating in a bath of bliss. I felt tremendous love and good tidings to all mankind, even Mr. Y, who was also snoring - but, for once, I did not feel deep resentment towards his slumber, which is usually the case when I am dealing alone with fussing babies. This was good - just us, the imposing "chamber" doors shutting out all the crazy.
Perfectly recreating the photo of the couple featured in the spa's brochure. Almost. Sorta. Kinda. Well, we tried.
After they gently coaxed us out of our sleep, we were led into our private steam room, and encouraged to smear mud on each other. Theoretically, this ought to be super sensual and, if you are still in the first flushes of your coupledom or one of those perfect passionate pairings, then I highly recommend it. No, seriously, done right, you will want to be booking one of the Ritz's stunning suites straight after. Mr. Y and I, however, found it the perfect opportunity to finalise the logistics of our summer travel plans with the kids, while distractedly covering ourselves (not even each other) in mud. But that was also good, because we never really get a moment to ourselves to talk about these things and when I'm watching Scandal - half comatose at 1 AM - the last thing I ever want to do is use words.
And then, for the surprise cherry on top, a languid one-hour full body massage. The moment my head hit the treatment table I was passed out. Absolute heaven!
You see, there comes a time in your married life when there's nothing more romantic than some quiet time and a really good nap. And, if a Peloid Treatment Chamber is what it takes, then bring on the mud!
To find out more about the spa packages available this Valentine's Day, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call them on +20225778899.
You can check out the Nile Ritz Carlton's Facebook page here.