One of the nicest things to do in Riyadh as a woman is visiting the many luxurious spas around the city and getting pampered for the day. All of the Riyadh spas are gender segregated meaning either males or females-only allowed inside the premises. The female-only spas offer many services familiar to expat women from their home countries and depending on where you come from the prices of some services are relatively affordable. Riyadh has so many ladies spas it’s not an easy task to choose where it’s worth putting your money in. This review is based on our visit to Maison Joelle in October 2012.
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According to their webpage http://www.maisondejoelle.com “Maison Joelle is an exclusive beauty house offering a unique beauty experience. The sophistication of Maison de Joelle is mirrored by the owner, Joelle Mardinian, a talented Make-Up Artist and beauty expert who gained her qualifications in the UK.
Maison de Joelle is in its own right a celebrity salon and a leading beauty house in the Middle East. Today, the salon is featured weekly on MBC1 in a reality TV series called ”Joelle”. The show highlights the transformations of it’s’ clients incorporating all the services we offer including complete makeovers.”
My mother’s visit to Maison Joelle was for a hair cut and color and manicure. Her experience was very positive and she was extremely happy with her new hair cut, and I had to agree it made her look 10 years younger. The hair stylist had also given her tips on how to style the hair. During her spa visit my mother had greatly enjoyed talking with the friendly Saudi women at the spa and said it was one of the most memorable experiences of her trip to KSA.
During my visit I was first shown around the spa and salon area for a quick tour. The salon is divided into two different sections and there’s a separate manicure/pedicure room and a make-up and eyebrow shaping room. Maison Joelle also has an exclusive VIP area which is meant mainly for private bookings such as brides. I really liked the design and furniture used in the spa and the open areas such as the manicure and pedicure area, although personally I prefer a more private setting for pedicures. Maison Joelle has a small coffee shop inside the facility where they offer small snacks and hot and cold beverages.
Unfortunately the coffee shop was closed during my visit because the employee had called in sick. The staff was so nice and tried to make up for this by making me a complimentary Turkish coffee. My seat was comfy and soft and the staff all made me feel very welcome with their smiles. I was offered some magazines to browse through and was happy to see some English language magazines as well.
After my highlights were in I transferred to the pedicure area. A very lovely Filipino lady started working on my pedicure and my feet were placed in the foot bath. It would’ve been even nicer had the bath had the whirlpool effect in it. The seat was comfortable and I liked that there was a big flat screen TV to watch.
During the pedicure my manicurist finished with my nails. Her work was of good quality but to my disappointment there was no massage of the hands and fingers which I think is a nice relaxing finishing touch to manicures. Maison Joelle has an impressive selection of high quality nail polishes and it was hard to choose between all the yummy colors available.
I was impressed with my pedicurist. She really took the time to remove all the dry skin and callous from my feet and especially my heels. She was firm but not too rough and for the first time I didn’t get ticklish while having a pedicure! The pedicurist told me I had some problem with the a toenail and asked if I wanted to have the ingrown nail removed. She told me it would be painful, but good to remove. I agreed and she got the nail out with only a slight pain. I was actually surprised that all my previous pedicurists hadn’t noticed this and glad that it had finally been taken care of. She finished off with a nice relaxing massage. Again I was delighted by all the lovely nail polish colors and went for an awesome bronze color for the toes which really made them look fab. I have to say this was the best pedicure result I had EVER had in Riyadh, and I have been to most of the top spas. I will definitely start having regular pedicures here.
I decided to have my eyebrows tinted and shaped by the “Arabic” style. They didn’t have a catalog to choose the shape from but I was given an iPad to browse the styles. I found something I liked and showed it to the eyebrow stylist and she began to paint the color on with a small brush. Se was very delicate and paid attention to detail while painting and removing the stray hair under the brows. This was the first time I had my eyebrows done this way and it took a while to get used to the new look which by first impression was very “out-there”. After a few days the initial darkness was gone and the tone and shape of the brows was great, just like I wanted them, although I did find a few stray hairs the next day while I checked in daylight.
Next I moved to the hair rinsing place where the two ladies rinsed and washed my hair and then started applying the root color. I had to wait for quite a while and the seat here was a bit uncomfortable for such a long period of sitting. The headrest didn’t seem to settle in the right place, it kept falling too low and my neck started to hurt a little. A very nice smelling Kerastase hair mask was applied after the hair color was rinsed out and I moved back to the salon chair where my hair was blow dried.
The hair came out excellent, I was actually surprised because it has been very hard for me to find a hair colorist in Riyadh that knows how to handle “western” blonde hair and not to turn it grey, orange or even green (believe it or not has happened in Riyadh before). The result was just like I had requested, the highlights looked natural and even throughout my long hair and my roots had been perfectly covered. All this and there was still a healthy shine to my hair. It would’ve been nice to have a moisturizing spray applied after the blow-dry though because the next day my hair felt somewhat dry and static.
My last treatment was the slimming massage which I had opted for in hopes of getting rid of the excess fluid retention in my body after the delivery. A friendly Filipino lady directed me to the treatment room. The treatment room didn’t have a separate changing room/shower next to it where the client can easily and with full privacy undress and change to the treatment clothing but instead I was directed to change the clothes while the masseuse stepped out of the room.
The room was also a little bit cold I would’ve loved to have some more scented candles burning around during the treatment. The lady told me that the slimming massage is actually supposed to be done in 10 sessions to have the most benefit and best result out of it. I was a little skeptical of the efficiency of just one session but hoped for the best.
Good thing that the massage therapist warned me beforehand it would be painful because boy, was it painful when she started on my legs. I cannot say that part was enjoyable at all. In fact at times I wished I was rather in labor! I thought to myself the result will surely be worth it and beauty doesn’t come without some suffering right, so I bared it. The legs were the most painful part though and the rest of the massage was more relaxing and definitely less painful. She even massaged my neck and shoulders as an extra thing from my request.
The massage therapist seemed very professional and knowledgeable and she suggested some treatment options suitable for me. She told me they offer a post natal program as well. As for the result of the slimming massage, I have to say I was positively shocked to see my stomach the next day in the mirror. It had been very swollen from the pregnancy but the next day looked totally different and MUCH better! The pain had been worth it after all! I didn’t see any drastic changes in the rest of my body though but I’m sure if I could have the chance to have all the ten sessions it would provide results elsewhere too.
Maison Joelle Riyadh services and price list: http://www.maisondejoelle.com/pricelist/ksa-pricelist.pdf
Olaya Street, Serkon Building 14
All images and services courtesy by Maison Joelle.
**We visited Maison Joelle as their guests in October 2012