Finding one's own truth

The fantasy land at Shizen Spa offers cleansing - even if it's only temporary.

carmel spa 88 298 (photo credit: )
carmel spa 88 298
(photo credit: )
The stressful drive from Jerusalem to Herzliya in heavy traffic was ultimately worth it. A treatment at the Shizen Spa at the Daniel Hotel took away all my aches and pains, at least temporarily, and left me feeling clean and relaxed - even though there was always the drive back to worry about. Yes, it's expensive. And yes, this is where the hedonists of Herzliya hang out. But it's definitely a fantasy land for those living in the fast lane - a chance to stop and smell the roses and spoil yourself for a day, or part thereof. Located next to the Mediterranean Sea, the large glass windows of the hotel - perhaps best known for hosting the prestigious Herzliya Conference - look out onto a beautiful beach; but unfortunately, Shizen (Japanese for "my truth") is located below ground level, so it has no view. Nevertheless, as I entered the huge two-story spa with its large pool, Jacuzzi, gym and facilities, I felt like I was stepping into another world, a relaxing world in which you can leave your troubles outside, as Joel Grey sings in Cabaret. The spa offers a host of new treatments, and I tried one of them, called "the ultimate massage experience from head to toe." After showering and putting on a white gown in the men's changing room, I sat in the cafe overlooking the pool and sipped some hot tea, waiting for my therapist. He came right on time and ushered me into a relatively big treatment room with a massage table and chair. Eran, who oversees some 30 other therapists at the spa, began with a relaxing scalp massage while I sat in the chair, then moved onto a deep, full-body oil massage while I was lying on my stomach (a nice touch was the candle and Japanese stones on the floor opposite my head). The treatment ended with excellent therapeutic reflexology. The price for the 90-minute massage is NIS 460, and includes entrance to the spa's facilities. Other treatments range from an aromatic oil bath to release toxins (NIS 90 for 30 minutes) and a healing Reiki massage, which aims to balance energy (NIS 250 for 45 minutes), to a gentle, aromatherapy massage (NIS 270 for 45 minutes) and Ayurveda, the ancient Indian body massage with warm sesame oil (75 minutes for NIS 375, or four hands for NIS 580). If you want to spoil yourself, you might try the Royal Spa Suite, a luxurious combination of body peeling, a milk bath and a relaxing classic massage with almond oil (90 minutes for NIS 500). Or, if you have the time, you could indulge in what the spa calls "a pampering day of pleasure," and purchase a NIS 560-package that includes a varied breakfast or lunch buffet at the hotel's Hemingway Restaurant, two 45-minute treatments of your choice (a massage, body peeling or a facial), and use of the spa's facilities, which include a variety of exercise classes. There are other packages as well, ranging from a relaxing morning package (NIS 325, including breakfast) to the Royal Shizen (the whole works - treatments, breakfast and lunch - for NIS 699). My therapist said his specialty was the Indian Stone Therapy massage, using hot stones, which costs NIS 280 for 45 minutes, or NIS 320 for an hour. He drives from Rosh Ha'ayin to work every day, and says he has clients come from all over the country. After the massage, I had another cuppa, sat in the sauna for 10 minutes, showered and changed back into my work clothes, ready for a good sushi lunch at a Herzliya restaurant. Despite the traffic back to Jerusalem (there happened to be a terror alert that day), I was mostly relaxed, even though my newly found energy dissipated once I returned to the office, and I eagerly awaited a good night's sleep.n The writer was a guest of the Shizen Spa at the Daniel Hotel in Herzliya. For information and reservations: (09) 952-8272.