During a recent stay at the Evason Ma’In Hot Springs & Six Senses Spa in Jordan, we overheard delighted commentary from thoroughly pampered guests (“I felt my blood pressure change immediately,” one such jubilant guest said). Opened in February 2009, the resort wows visitors with facilities that take full advantage of a fantastical setting at the lowest place on Earth.
Getting There: A narrow road winds through a red-rock canyon, descending lower and lower, before finally arriving at a valley 866 feet below sea level, connected by Wadi Zarqa Ma’In to the Dead Sea. Here, in a serene oasis ringed by mountains, steaming sulfurous waterfalls tumble into naturally heated pools rich with minerals.
Just an hour from Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport, but seemingly worlds away, Ma’In has been a pilgrimage destination for thousands of years, mentioned in the Bible’s Book of Numbers and Deuteronomy. When he wasn’t engaged in missions to ward off competition, King Herod used to frequent the hot springs because of their healing properties. Now this dreamlike place has a destination resort to boot.
Though the Evason brand was launched as Six Senses’ mid-market offering, we found the Jordanian property exuded luxury. In fact, a Saudi prince and his entourage rolled into Ma’In during our stay—his convoy of vehicles quickly parking out of sight. Also true to the Six Senses brand philosophy, the resort is focused on environmental and community responsibility: an organic garden and on-site goat farm produce the bounty for the restaurant; guests can choose to donate old clothes to charity. All in all, the Evason Ma’In Hot Springs provides a one-of-a-kind spa resort experience that’s a true luxury value.
Stepping into the lobby, we felt an immediate sense of calm. Designed to reflect the surrounding landscape, the resort uses locally sourced materials in its interior spaces. Traditional lanterns hang above wood lounge chairs piled with oversized linen pillows. Oil lamps emit a jasmine fragrance that wafts through the air. This sensory feast is heightened by the candlelight flickering across the white stone floors at night.
The inspired natural design extends to the guest rooms. Our Evason Room was outfitted with furniture made from sustainable sources: palm, bamboo, plantation teak, papier-mâché and mulberry bark. There was a treasure trove of treats waiting to be discovered. A piece of the coffee table could be lifted to reveal a stash of board games. Opening the windows’ wooden slat blinds, we found a balcony where we could sip freshly brewed espresso and contemplate the mountains. Instead of the usual hotel information binders, wood-bound books graced the shelves. Flipping through one, we discovered a jet-lag eliminator guide, dictionary of useful Arabic words and constellation guide, in addition to the pillow menu.
Available upon request: iPods, oil burners and a selection of scented pouches to place under your pillow. Did we mention the free Internet access?
The best rooms in the house are the two generously sized Royal Suites, each with six balconies offering panoramic views of the mountains and waterfalls. These two-bedroom suites have their own private spa plus bathroom Jacuzzi. The Honeymoon Suite also has wonderful views from its perch on the top floor of the hotel.
Tips for booking: Request a room on the upper floors (6 and 7) facing the Dead Sea. Your clients will be able to see the shimmering sea and the lights of the West Bank beyond. Waterfall views are also nice. For assistance with VIP reservations, contact Lora Artiola ([email protected]; 011-962-5-324 5500). Climate Note: Summer temperatures can soar in the region.
From complimentary bikes to paragliding, there’s a plethora of recreational activities available. The waterfalls, accessible round the clock, are lit up at night so guests can take a dip even late in the night. Rock-hewn stairs descend to the pools, free for all guests’ use. (Caution: The water can be extremely hot!) Hiking buffs and joggers will appreciate the trails above the valley. Next to the fully equipped gym, an outdoor pool overlooks one of the waterfalls. Inside, the library is stacked with a range of books, DVDs and CDs. But above all, the resort aims to provide guests spirited life experiences. Your clients can dine in a real Bedouin camp, set off on a Holy Land circuit, attend a cooking class, make their own olive oil in the resort’s olive groves, or take Arabic language lessons and learn calligraphy. At night, the resort’s outdoor Cinema Paradiso screens classic films under the star-studded sky.
The star of the show at the Evason Ma’In is the Six Senses Spa. Sitting beneath one of the cascades, the spa incorporates the hot springs pools into its design. Indeed, there’s even a natural hammam in a cave behind the waterfalls. Featuring natural and indigenous ingredients like jasmine and Dead Sea mud, the treatments are inspired by the resort’s Jordanian setting on the historical spice, silk and frankincense routes. Spa Manager Ayman Alamat (spamgr-main[email protected]; 011-962-5-324 5500) recommends signature treatments like the Dates Journey (a polish using ground date stones followed by a honey wrap, bath and massage) and the Hammam Ma’In Signature Journey (a three-hour experience to improve cell metabolism). Olive oil massages and Olive Grove Scrubs are also quite popular. Note: When your clients indulge in a spa treatment, they can stay at the spa the whole day. Otherwise, the spa entrance fee is $54.
|Six Senses Spa sits directly under one of the natural hot spring waterfalls.|
The spa may be the resort’s highlight but food comes a close second. The Springs, which is the resort’s all-day dining restaurant, features live cooking stations where chefs prepare swoon-worthy international and regional cuisine from the freshest ingredients. There’s also a cliff-top restaurant at the edge of the Dead Sea and another outdoor dining experience at Olive, where guests can tuck into traditional Bedouin dishes served under a lamp-lit tent. Wine tastings take place in The Cellar; Arabic tapas are paired with the sommelier’s picks from the 200 different available wines.
A word about breakfast: we can’t think of a better way to start the day. Even non-morning people will find themselves springing out of bed to indulge in the sumptuous spread: omelets, Arabic pastries, crêpes, a variety of yogurts and more. Sipping fresh watermelon juice on the terrace facing the waterfalls, your clients will be tempted to burn their return tickets.