Shanghai Daily
Body & Soul


Shui Urban Spa satisfies even the picky spa goers with its cutting-edge retreat of tasteful and functional design, first- class amenities, and painstaking attention to detail.

Today, it seems many salons portray themselves as day spas but lack that day spa feel.  However, one of the city’s newest spas Shui Urban Spa surprises and satisfies even the picky spa goers with its cutting-edge retreat of tasteful and functional design, first-class amenities, and painstaking attention to detail.

Shui is a jewel cleverly tucked away amidst the trees, chic shops and cosmopolitan cafes in Ferguson Lane on Wukang Road. On the fifth floor of the charming Art-deco-inspired building, step through the doors of Shui and enter a different world where time ceases to matter — a 350-square-meter sanctuary filled with soft lights, soothing, eclectic music, and inviting fragrances.  Slip into a pristine white robe, escape into private treatment rooms with relaxing views, enjoy the face or body indulgence, daydream or read a magazine in his-and-hers lounges — and experience some of the best services in Shanghai.

There is even a spacious outdoor terrace where Moroccan-style daybeds invite guests to lounge and linger amidst the lovely tree-top view of the old former French concession area.  The design theme is “white-on-white-on shadows” combined with playful references to its name, “shui.” The white theme is clean, pure and calming, much as a spa should be. Emphasis on textures, shadows and mood lighting make the spa more inviting. “ Shui (water) reflects the origins of the spas we have come to know today. Also, we deliberately chose a Chinese name because we want to reflect the fact that we are a brand born in China, to signify Shanghai’s entry into the world-class urban spa industry,” said owner BJ Macatulad, a former invest-ment banker from New York. The Filipino partnered with Geraldine Acuna-Sunshine, a corporate lawyer in Boston. Macatulad handles day-to-day opera¬tions and oversees the marketing strategy, while Acuna-Sunshine is in charge of product and service development. The two met as university students in Harvard.

Both have been spa devotees for many years and eventually decided to turn their passion into businesses focused on providing luxury services for harried profes¬sionals and those in search of greater balance in their lives.The duo got into the business themselves in 2004 when they partnered with the well-known Mandala Spa Resort and Villas in Boracay Island, the Philippines, which has since won many awards such as Best Destination Spa by Baccarat Asia. “Shui” is their fourth spa venture. “ Our contemporary design here is a departure from the traditional, tropical-style theme of most spas in China and throughout Asia — our look is quite unique and we believe it is more representa¬tive of a hip, fashion-forward city such as Shanghai,” Macatulad said.

For example, the duck is one of many design elements here because the rubber ducks are fun and welcoming — sometimes, design-conscious spas have a tendency to become too serious and intimating, according to her. “ We merge the ‘best in class’ from what we believe to be the best spas we have tried around the world — we combine both Oriental and European techniques with some of the best products from the US and Asia,” she said.

The spa uses Dermalogica because their products are consistently rated the top choice of spa professionals worldwide, year after year. The caring and meticulously trained Filipino therapists each have up to 10 years experience at some of the best spas in the world.

There are over two dozen treatments to choose from, including the Shui signature deep relaxation massage, or the Shui essential facial, a cleansing, exfoliating, and soothing treatment that unexpectedly starts with a back massage to melt away stress.

Targeting frequent spa-goers, Shui provides a world-class experience at a relatively accessible price. The spa hopes to become the favored destination for local and expat “spa experts” who go to spas regularly and expect excellence and consistency.