ShuiQi Spa, Atlantis The Palm Dubai
Say it ‘Shway-chee’. Well, actually, however you pronounce it, ShuiQi is one extraordinary spa – in a city of extraordinary spas: Dubai is turning into the ‘spa capital of the world’, we reckon, and very exciting it is too. You enter this subterranean oasis via a long, candlelit path flanked by peach-toned phalaenopsis orchids – and that’s your clue that this is truly another world. (The spa itself is in the world-famous, arched, ûberluxurious Atlantis Hotel, at the tip of the man-made Palm Jumeirah island - which is pretty mind-blowing in its own right.) Jo went with her husband Craig, at the start of a vacation (he’s pretty much a spa ‘virgin’), and the ‘couples’ spa rituals – which turned out to be almost two-and-a-half hours of heaven - was carried out in the Royal Spa Suite. Think: his ‘n’ hers wet-room-style shower. Think: a relaxing lounge area which flows into the beautiful treatment room, with its side-by-side massage couches, hung with damask drapes and – yes – there are more gorgeous orchids. All very opulent (nothing in Dubai is understated), but all very lovely.
There is, meanwhile, one thing we’ve learned about booking treatments: sure, it’s good to experiment with new brands – but when it comes to a foolproof feel-good factor, it’s best to stick with brands you know and love. These Aromatherapy Associates ‘rituals’, then, were no-brainers – because feature many of the products we know and use ourselves (no risk of a sensitivity reaction, then – and an almost Pavlovian relaxation response to the essential oil blends).
There were several stages in the treatments - Jo had the Dubai Glamour Ritual, while Craig had the Atlantis Sunset Ritual. But it didn’t feel hurried or as if there were products being used for the sake of it (our complaint about some therapies, especially facials). It began with a vigorous but not painful body scrub (lots of little dead grey bits of skin, so you know it's working its magic). Then a really detoxifying seaweed-y body wrap, for around 20 minutes, with a really rockpool aroma that confirms it's packed with minerals and goodness, with enough grapefruit and sweet orange in there to make it very pleasant.
Next, Jo's favourite bit: an invigorating full body massage, with pine and circulation-boosting juniper berry: therapist Sherylle - a deceptively tiny Filipino - is the 'real deal' masseur-wise, with fingers of steel that managed to unkink every remaining bit of post-flight tension from Jo's calves and shoulders. The finishing touch? 20 minutes of delicious wafts from rose-scented facial goodies: a simple Rose Damask facial, again featuring lots of expert pressure-point massage, leaving Jo's face very much less puffy and more radiant.
Neither wanted the treatment to end; in some ways, the 140 minutes seemed to have sped by - yet it also felt as if time had stood still, in a good way, allowing two weary travellers almost to 'sediment down', sinking to a new level of vacation relaxation.
There was time to sit and sip freshly-brewed ginger tea, afterwards, in the lounge area - before heading off to see Atlantis's extraordinary in-hotel aquarium: might as well take advantage of a chance to look around this strictly guests-only wonder of the hotel world. (Spa treatments can be booked if you're not staying at Atlantis, though.)
A representative from Spa Services at Atlantis The Palm - which was a winner in the World Spa & Wellness Awards 2013 - tells us: 'Aromatherapy Associates is a firm favourite of our guests, with a substantial repeat guest following.'
We're SO not surprised… (And we fantasise about being among them!)