No shortage of treats for your Valentine

BEIRUT: This year Valentine’s Day stinks – of herbal scrubs, scented candles and aromatherapy oils. In addition to the classic Valentine’s weekend packages incorporating sensual dining, sappy decorations and a late morning-after checkout time, Lebanon’s luxury hotels have added a range of spa offerings to their menus this February.

Whether you want to pamper your partner, indulge in some relaxing quality time together, or reassemble him or her after a grueling January of bad weather and stress at the office, Beirut’s top hotels have a Valentine’s Day package to fit the bill.

For the second year in a row, the PureGrey Health Club and Spa at Le Grey in Downtown has put the “Couple’s Love Escape” on its menu. At $200, receptionist Farah Bou Chaaya describes it as a “very nice package” and says “people really like it.”

Following a side-by-side holistic massage, couples, who can’t bear to be parted, enjoy a round of champagne and indulge in chocolate fondue.

Also on the PureGrey promotion list this month is the “Man in Love,” an increasingly popular package tailored – you guessed it – just for men.

The 120-minute-long session, comprising a gent’s facial and a back massage, is on offer year-round, but during February it comes at a reduced rate – $185 as opposed to $205.

Bou Chaaya says that while it is still more common for women to buy such treatments as gifts for their partners, men do sometimes come of their own volition in search of pampering, and this is the package the spa recommends.

For men seeking to spoil their ladies, there is any number of luscious, indulgent packages, but for the spa-illiterate an easy-out is the “Sweetheart” – a honey scrub, a massage and an express facial – at $195.

Bou Chaaya also notes that gift vouchers for spa packages purchased in February are valid for six months.

The Four Seasons Beirut has also joined the couple’s spa-therapy fray, just recently having added a “Side by Side” package to its menu.

Now, as a cozy twosome, you can enjoy a full-body exfoliation and a detoxifying bath therapy (vanilla for her, organic tea for him) followed by a full-body Western Touch massage, which is topped off with the spa’s Stop & Relax facial.

This whole lavish affair lasts two and a half hours, but such quality time doesn’t come cheap: Being scrubbed and rubbed in the neighborhood of your loved one at the Four Seasons will set you back no less than $575.

More bang for your buck, and, let’s face it, most probably more bang in general, is on offer if you upgrade to the Valentine’s weekend package.

Along with the two and a half glorious spa hours, this deal offers two nights accommodation in a sea-view room, breakfast in bed and a four-course evening meal replete with “fresh shucked oysters” and champagne – although, at $1,608 plus tax, it’s still a pricey affair.

As at the Four Seasons, Le Grey boasts an overnight package, which, like its couple’s massage, is called the Love Escape. One night in an executive suite, suitably decorated for the occasion, with breakfast and 30 minutes of spa treatment per person costs $360 plus 10 percent tax.

Unlike at the Four Seasons, dinner is extra, but for lovebirds in quest of a suitably mushy meal, romantic fare is served from Feb. 13-16 at the hotel’s Indigo on the Rooftop restaurant, accompanied by live entertainment and finished off with a “special cake.”

Of course, the Valentine’s dining formula at Le Grey is mirrored at restaurants throughout the city.

At the Phoenicia red petals and candles will adorn tabletops across the establishment while set menus vary in its assorted eateries.

Couples who want to go all in can pay $280 for a four-course feast washed down with champagne and an open premium bar at Eau de Vie; those convinced of the aphrodisiac power of sushi may prefer Wok Wok’s $160 buffet deal with open regular bar; and for those who only want cake (complemented by bubbly, of course) there’s the $80 package at Cascade. All prices are per couple.

Unsurprisingly, The Phoenicia is also on the spa-for-two bandwagon.

The 95-minute “Sweet Sensations for Two” (LL400,000 including VAT) comprises a relaxing body massage for both parties, a manicure for her, a pedicure for him, and culminates in a champagne and strawberry climax.

This landmark Beirut hotel, outside which former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was tragically assassinated on Valentine’s Day 2005, also has a number of other interesting spa specials for the occasion.

Chocolates are a Valentine’s Day staple, and very few hotels will deprive guests of heart-shaped treats for the occasion, but if you’re dealing with a true chocoholic you may want to sweeten the offering.

At The Phoenicia, this is easy: You can slather her (or him, or both of you) in chocolate both outside and in. The “Crazy for You” (LL200,000 per person) spa package involves a chocolate back scrub complemented by a hot chocolate drink. Also included – perhaps to ensure your partner doesn’t smell too edible – is an aroma massage with scented candles and hot towels.

Also, if the first six weeks of 2013 have been unkind to your partner, you may want to consider the Phoenicia’s “Because I love you” (LL330,000) package.

This two-hour transformative treatment scrubs off dull skin, massages with hot poultices and beautifies with a facial, then tops the rejuvenation off with a healthy lunch at Eau de Vie.

If all this is sounding a bit financially exorbitant, then consider exiting Beirut. Venturing beyond the capital yields more affordable options for those afflicted by spa-lust and seeking a Valentine’s weekend away.

Edde Sands Hotel and Wellness Resort offers a courtyard room replete with heart-shaped cake for $298 on the nights of Feb. 13-16 inclusive. The package also includes a candlelit dinner, breakfast and a 30-minute spa treatment each.

However, while the hotel reports that a full-body, side-by-side massage is the spa’s most popular offering with couples, this must be booked and paid for separately.

Fear not, for those without any interest in primping and preening their Valentine’s Day away this year, there remain spa-free packages.

At the high-end of the spectrum is the Hotel Albergo in Monot, which is offering an overnight stay in a suite decked out in rose petals and candles, with breakfast, champagne and late checkout included. On the night of the Feb. 13 this treat comes in at $400, but on Feb. 14 the offer jumps by more than 50 percent to $634 – although it also expands to include dinner with wine. A “VIP welcome,” whatever that’s worth to you, is available both nights.

If you’re willing to spend Valentine’s Day a little closer to nature, costs plummet. An overnight stay inclusive of breakfast and open wine and cheese for two at Nature Land in Bzebdine in the Hammana region starts at just $200. Two nights snuggling at the ski-slope-facing MzaarVille chalets, booked through, with wine and cheese for two also included, is on offer from Feb. 15-17 for $480. Skiing for two on either Saturday or Sunday can be added for just $85.





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