No matter how hard you try, you are unlikely to be able to force your feet to the bottom of the Dead Sea in southern Jordan. Better to stop, take a deep breath, marvel at your new-found buoyancy, feel everything move in slow motion, and relax into the unique experience of floating at the lowest point on earth, 430m below sea level.
Ten times saltier than the ocean, if you hadn’t already guessed by the name, no life lies beneath you as you float in the calm, warm, baby oil-like waters. But as it turns out, not even the Dead Sea is immune to eventual death, the cursed combination of rivers being dammed and evaporation threaten to make the landlocked lake disappear for good. Shrinking at a rate of around a metre per year, experts predict that by 2050 the Dead Sea could possibly be little more than a puddle. So now is the time to visit and experience this natural wonder of the world, and tick this aquatic anomaly off your bucket list before it disappears.
In many ways nature’s natural health spa, the Dead Sea’s rich, black mud packs a healthy mineral infusion for the body. High in minerals such as sodium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, iron and calcium, the mud does wonders for one’s skin, nourishing beyond any moisturiser. Slather the mud all over yourself, leave for 20 minutes, and then rinse off with a float in the mineral-rich waters. Dead Sea mud has been proven to provide relief for numerous skin disorders. Even the air is healthier in this part of the world – highly rich in oxygen due the barometric pressure – and with 330 days of sunshine, it’s little wonder that a number of internationally branded resorts line the salty banks of the Dead Sea on the Jordan side.
Each resort has its own private section of waterfront for guests to bob about in the salty lake. Some offer day access, although these are the resorts to steer clear of, especially if you’re in search of a rejuvenating break. A luxurious and exclusive hotel overlooking the northern shores of the Dead Sea, Kempinski Hotel Ishtar undoubtedly occupies prime position on the strip and is arguably the most upscale of all the area’s hospitality options, its Gardens of Babylon-inspired design tumbling down the hillside towards the water. Nicole Kidman, Tony Blair and Bono are just a few of the resort’s past guests, so you’ll be in good company.
Built with the pale stone native to the region, the hotel is first experienced via a cavernous reception hall. Inside, the hotel cascades down through a series of terraced levels, with clusters of accommodation anchored by nine free-forms pools to laze around by day.
Whilst the main building offers 200 sea facing rooms, the gardens feature suites and sumptuous villas with private terraces overlooking the Dead Sea. Rooms here are carved in natural stone and delicately styled with contemporary fittings. Everything is restrained, relaxing, comfortable and unpretentious. Needless to say, guest bathrooms are laden with luxury Dead Sea-inspired amenities.
The jewel in the Kempinski’s crown is the hotel’s Ishtar Spa by Resense, an adults-only relaxation haven and the largest spa in the Middle East. Ayurvedic and Asian therapies, Thai massages, Dead Sea scrubs and local salt and mud treatments are offered in 28 spa suites, complemented by a variety of Hammam pools, outdoor and indoor Jacuzzis, steam rooms and even an ice cave. If you want to up the luxe level of your Dead Sea experience, Kempinski Hotel Ishtar is without a doubt THE place to do it.