Esthetician Dayle Breault on setting up shop in a remote corner of the world.

The Temple of Amun in Siwa, Egypt, where Breault was brought to practice her craft

In 2005, the spiritual healer Jean Michel Ete invited me to travel with him to the Adrère Amellal, a resort in Siwa, Egypt.

He was developing a menu for its spa, which his clients Madonna, Sting, and Trudie Styler were tapped to invest in.

The hotel, built entirely from mud bricks, sits on a salt lake near the Libyan border in an area full of ancient ruins.

The grounds of the Adrére Amellal

It’s an eight hour drive from Cairo, but Jean Michel and I arrived by private jet.

My job was to create unique skincare treatments that addressed the desert region’s harsh elements and didn’t require any machinery, in addition to teaching the spa’s staff of local Siwan women how to perform them.

It was the only time I had to work with no electricity to this day.

One of the mud brick buildings that define the region’s, and resort’s, architectural style

For three weeks I was stationed in a room made entirely of rock salt, wearing magnifying glasses and a headlamp like a coal miner’s, while I treated Madonna, Sting, Trudie — who all met us there — and other guests, like Princess Iman bint Abdullah of Jordan, to facials using a suitcase filled with my lotions and potions.

Unfortunately, that trip would be my last.

I never returned to the resort because Jean Michel’s spa didn’t end up opening. Still, the journey remains the most magical experience of my entire life.

— as told to The Thick

Did you see? Skincare guru Victoria Tsai searches for geisha in Kyoto, Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon shares favorite gems from a stockpile of crystals.


A view of North Africa’s Great Sand Sea from the Adrére Amellal