Maisa Sheikh – Entrepreneur

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aisa Sheikh, Managing Director of Sparadise, is a Yemen-born entrepreneur who was inspired to create and develop four spas in Bahrain through her own experiences and travels. She reminisced about her hometown saying “Our own experiences of beauty was homemade. We did our own threading and waxing and made our own lipsticks using beetroot and wax”. She remembered seeing all those models and celebrities on TV and questioning why she didn’t have access to the kind of care/ treatments that they had, because as she said “I knew they were doing something more than I did to look like that”.

In her travels, she found out about Lulur, a Javanese beauty exfoliation ritual using turmeric, honey, yoghurt, and lemon. This is traditionally used on brides to be of the royal family for 40 days prior to their wedding, to cleanse, smooth, soften, and rejuvenate the skin. When she came back to Bahrain she looked for this treatment everywhere, even going to a luxury spa and asking them to create that experience for her. Her therapist told her that as they were in a hotel spa, they could not deviate from the treatments given, but she continued “I could do it on my own, I know how to do it, if only I had a sponsor”. Maisa immediately said “I will sponsor you” and the rest, as they say, is history.

Maisa had no experience in the spa business, but she knew what she wanted. She spoke to her husband, the Managing Director of the Elite Group and asked him if there was a space for a spa in any of the Elite Hotels. His first response was not very encouraging as he said that they are not yet ready to open a spa in any of their hotels. But that same day, he called her back and said that the supermarket project (that was supposed to go up in Elite Resort) was cancelled and she can have that place for her spa. On hindsight, she was convinced that everything happened for a reason and it turned out to be the start of 10 long years of passion in the industry. A civil engineer by profession, Maisa made use of her education to create the first Sparadise at Elite Resort and Spa, Muharraq. They dug into the shell of the supermarket and created an exquisite spa paradise on 3 levels.

A Cinderella Story

Maisa said “It’s just like a Cinderella story where I had a fairy godmother and some help from the birds and the mice to help me make my dream come true. I knew nothing about starting a spa business but I was passionate about education. I studied whatever I could: Accounting, Spa Management, Interior Design. I am blessed to be affiliated with three cultures: Arabic, Indian, and Yemeni, which has greatly influenced my life. I also traveled a lot, especially in the Far East, where some of the best spas can be found”.

Sparadise has been designed to excite the senses, and you can see from the paintings on the walls, to the spacing in the furniture, to the texture of the fabrics chosen that everything here is part of a grand design. Maisa chose everything herself saying “If you were going to build a nursery for your child, would you hire an interior decorator? No, you want to do it yourself because you understand what you want and how you want your child to feel”.

It’s just like a Cinderella story where I had a fairy godmother and some help from the birds and the mice.

Emphasis on personalized treatment calibrated to every client’s needs has made Sparadise famous. For instance, their Luxurious Chocolate Scrub features natural, edible chocolate whereas in other spas they claim to use organic chocolate in their scrubs, but it can’t be eaten. The treatment rooms are also exquisitely tailored to guest’s needs, with the latest massage bed with temperature and recline control. There’s even a bowl of gardenias in water that guests can look at as they lie facedown for a massage. It’s these exquisite touches that create true relaxation in a guest’s experience.

But the warmth and hospitality with which they shower their guests don’t end after a session. As Maisa said, “It’s an affair we have with our clients. We take responsibility for their well-being. We have to continue striving to make them feel better”.

To those who feel that going to the salon or spa is a luxury, think again. Maisa says “Well-being is not a luxury. When we neglect our bodies, we come down with illness and usually spend more. But if we are kind to our bodies and our minds, we can live healthier and fuller lives”.

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