WHAT I TRIED The Face and Body Experience, ShuiQi Spa & Fitness at Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai
WHAT I WANTED A totally self-indulgent pampering experience.
WHAT HAPPENED Flickering candles and beautiful white orchids decorate the softly lit passageways as I meander through this labyrinthine spa. The sound of the waterfall and the smell of essential oils are blissfully intoxicating.
If points could be awarded for atmosphere alone, then this recently renamed spa scores high. It has adopted the exclusive Japanese beauty brand Shiseido, and the eastern influence shines throughout, from the minimalist decor to the delicious jasmine green tea. In fact, short of cherry blossoms falling from trees, you wouldn't be far wrong in thinking you were on the set of Memoirs of a Geisha.
I'm already relaxed in my soft white robe and slippers as I'm led to the treatment rooms. My lovely therapist, Pilar, though small in height, assures me that she has super-strong hands, ready to give my back, legs and arms a thorough workout to relieve any stresses and strains and boost circulation.
My two-and-a-half-hour treatment begins with a Japanese foot bath, where she immerses my feet in essential oils and floating rose petals. After I hop on the treatment bed, Pilar gets to work and applies a Kuroho body polish from head to toe, which she generously puts on and rigorously scrubs off (she wasn't joking about her super-strong hands!).
A full Qi body massage using a herbal massage lotion soon follows. Pilar then removes this velvety, silky cream with a hot cloth and applies a thick, indulgent jasmine and cherry blossom moisturiser.
My muscles feel loose, stretched and soothed, and I smell divine.
I spend the last 30 minutes getting the anti-ageing Sheisho Super Corrective Beauty Boost Facial. Experts claim that the Sheisho serum used in this treatment is the latest miracle elixir in anti-ageing; "In just one day, you can achieve timeless skin", I read, straining my neck from the treatment bed to catch a glimpse of the bottle.
My skin is deeply cleansed and exfoliated and the serum applied. I sink away under the face mask, enjoying the quiet music and the sense of being far removed from outside noise.
As one fragrant cream after another is absorbed into my skin, Pilar gently performs an awakening technique by slowly moving my arms above my head. This at first is not a welcome surprise after being in a dreamlike state for most of the afternoon, but some sort of energetic action is definitely required to finally rouse me off the treatment bed.
THE VERDICT No matter how tense you are before you enter this spa, you will leave so relaxed you will run the danger of forgetting your name. I'm not sure if my complexion looked truly "timeless" after my miracle facial, but my skin was gloriously clear and rehydrated and was glowing from head to toe. As I had hoped, I revelled in the pampering, solace and sanctuary.
The Face and Body Experience, Dh1,600, ShuiQi Spa & Fitness at Atlantis, The Palm, 04 426 1020, www.atlantisthepalm.com