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10 questions for… Salina Handa



Salina Handa is the managing director of SensAsia Urban Spa, which she founded 12 years ago as a way of recreating the urban escapes she encountered in Vietnam. With a string of outlets across Dubai, the Thai-themed spas offer the full array of treatments and pampering, earning mother-of-two Salina a host of accolades.

How long have you been in Dubai… and, in ten words or less, how would you sum up your time here?
15 years. I came for three months… and I’m still here.

What’s your favourite restaurant… and favourite dish?
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. My favourite dish is good old-fashioned tenderloin. Their chopped salad is also to die for.

Which takeaway do you have on speed dial?
I don’t do takeaways as a general rule. However, I’d say about three times a year, I’ll order Johnny Rockets for the whole family – kids and all. And that’s malt milkshakes, the smokehouse burger, the works.

Thursday night means…
End of the working week! A nice dinner with friends… then who knows what comes next!

Friday afternoon means…
Nothing. Time with the kids and hopefully home, chilling by the pool or beach.

Guests have flown in to see you for a weekend and they’ve never been here before. What three things do you do?
Way more than three! La Petite Maison is a “must eat at”, and I’d do Kite Beach, anything at Atlantis, just for the sheer size of the place and Al Nafoorah at Emirates Towers. I’d also want them to try a Frying Pan Adventures food tour; it’s a walking tour in Deira that samples foods from local eateries and street stalls that you would never find on your own. I would probably “Uber” them off to Al Bastakia [Al Fahidi Historic District], which is a lovely spot to soak up a little old Dubai culture, great little side streets, art spots and cafés.

Where do you go to get a taste of home?
My spas. I was born and raised in Thailand and have personally selected everything you see at any SensAsia Urban Spa to reflect that. Every piece of furniture, smell, sound – even treatment room name! – has come from my own vision of what relaxation is about. It can’t help but feel like home!

What one thing could they introduce to Dubai that would immeasurably improve the quality of your life?
At the risk of sounding “soooo Dubai”, it would would revolutionise my life if it was easier for domestic staff to seek and find jobs here. A “mumtrepreneur” like me has mountains to move on her to-do list every single day. I would happily pass on more and more tasks to people I trust, if it meant I could step off the hamster wheel and seize the quality time I find.

If you had to spend AED100,000 in a single Dubai shop, which shop would you choose?
Caspaiou Designs, the sexiest furniture and accessories – for the home that is.

What do you do in Dubai that you never do anywhere else in the world?
Work! Dubai is where I built my business and had my children, and I throw everything into it every day I’m here. But when I travel, I make a distinct effort to take everything in, and build a better me! Relax, unwind… and make productive plans for the foreseeable future.

SensAsia Urban Spa
Palm Jumeirah


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