When Dubai began to re-emerge from lockdown, we automatically assumed discussions about hospitality would include spa and wellness facilities in hotels. But they didn’t. The government wasn’t comfortable about the close proximity of its services. Similarly, it was unconfident about allowing independent sites offering spa and massage treatments to reopen even though hair and beauty salons were already in operation.
Investigation showed that we needed to make our case to a number of bodies which were all partially involved in reopening decisions. These included the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management, the Department of Economic Development, the Dubai Health Authority and the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.
Key spa influencers formed a group to compile a letter to these authorities and they gave us a good direction on what it should include. Government representatives were extremely supportive and even sent us an official form to fill out.
The one-page letter included concise bullet points outlining the impact on business due to closure. We also highlighted the similarities between spas and salons (which were safely running) and attached detailed SOP guidelines to demonstrate how prepared the sector was. What’s more, we highlighted the success of spas smoothly reopening in Germany with strict SOPs in place which led to no new COVID cases occurring.
In addition, we emphasised the value of spas to tourism as well as their key role in providing stress relief and mindfulness to thousands of people post lockdown.
We submitted the letter on 1 July and three days later facilities were permitted to reopen and then on 6 August, steam and sauna experiences were also allowed. Some other emirates reopened spas earlier, while those in Abu Dhabi only began operating again on 16 September.
At the time, it seemed to drag on, but compared to other countries we’ve actually been very fortunate. The way the Dubai government has managed all aspects of COVID, including reopening, has been very conscientious. It’s been cautious yet optimistic.
• Daniella Russell has managed and consulted on spas in the Middle East for 23 years.
Government representatives were
extremely supportive and even sent
us an official form to fill out