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A perfect 2023 wellness getaway, Zulal Wellness Resort in Qatar

Zulal Wellness Resort

A perfect 2023 wellness getaway, Zulal Wellness Resort in Qatar

Home to Germany’s football team during FIFA 2022, this uber-luxe resort is the getaway you need in 2023
By Riddhi Doshi

The sun rays beamed in through the glass ceiling, spotlighting artist Anish Kapoor’s sandstone sculpture. In its centre is a whole, like an abyss, a void. It casts an image of a twirling dervish in my head. Her hands were wide open, her eyes transfixed, to the sky and her mind lulled into a state of calm.

Zulal Wellness Resort

The Zulal Wellness Resort in Qatar is by the serene Gulf of Arabia

This untitled, 1993, artwork initiates you into Qatar’s Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som, spanning 280,000 square metres and standing at the shore of the Arabian Gulf. Zulal, meaning clean water in Arabic, officially opened in March 2022. It is the first resort in the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) that has the Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine (TAIM) philosophy at the heart of its wellness offerings.

The 180-key resort is also the first managerial venture of Chiva-Som, a world-class wellness resort in Thailand and the German football team’s residence during FIFA World Cup tournament, in Qatar. They will occupy the 120-room Discovery section of the resort, meant for families. I lived in the 60-room Serenity, an adults-only zone.

Situated at the edge of the sea and a desert, Zulal’s earthy architecture, minimalistic design, impeccable service, a myriad of wellness therapies, green courtyards and gardens with water bodies and delicious healthy food make for a serene environment. It’s perfect for quiet contemplation, soul searching, healing and digital detox.

Zulal’s wellness philosophy is founded on six principles of health – fitness, physiotherapy, spa, holistic health, aesthetic beauty and nutrition, says Sandie Johannessen, director of health and wellness at Zulal. From Pilates, to sound therapy, body posture correction sessions, aqua therapy, spine alignment machine and deep-tissue massage, the resort has an exhaustive list of wellness offerings. And they introduce new treatments every three months.

Zulal Wellness Resort

The wellness resort is anchored by the philosophy of Islamic medicine, wellness and healing.

A guest’s wellness journey here begins with an in-depth consultation with a doctor. He or she will ask you several lifestyle related questions; measure your blood pressure before charting out a customized schedule for you, keeping in mind your wellness goals. My goal was to move my body, release stress and feel energetic. My wellness consultant Nour designed a mix of high-and-medium-paced activities and relaxing massages programme for me.

While I sweated it out in a circuit class (a mix of high-intensity cardio and weight exercises), I relaxed with an invigorating massage. Water polo, similar to playing football in water but with hands, was my favourite group activity. Held on the Discovery side, I am told it’s one of the sought-after activities for families with children.

But even as an adult, I enjoyed it as it brought out my competitive side while helping me burn several calories and have lots of fun.

Discovery is big on such activities as its goal is Family bonding and wellness. They conduct family cooking classes, and mangrove walk, teaching the importance of saving the groves. The family circle in the evening is a simple exercise in fostering mental well-being and facilitating candid and honest conversations among family members.

Another impressive feature of the discovery is the age-specific rooms for children from zero to three to 13 to 17. While parents are doing their own thing, kids can spend their time in these rooms, equipped with age-appropriate toys, games and activities. The toddlers have a ball pool and the grownups have a piano and a guitar.

Inspired by its surroundings of a coastal desert, Zulal’s exterior is designed to look like sand dunes. The interior is accentuated with the use of natural materials, including gravel, sand, textured concrete and earthy shades of browns and greys.

Zulal Wellness Resort

The design follows the theme of the desert.

The several courtyards with its gardens, water bodies and Al Sidra trees, representing nourishment, strength, growth and wellness in the Qatari culture, are key features of Zulal’s wellness-focussed design. An eclectic collection of abstract paintings and textile crafts are scattered across Zulal’s rooms, restaurants and banquets, highlighting its contemporary, wooden furniture.

My favourite space at the resort is the House of Wisdom. It houses Kapoor’s art installation, a library, a tea room and an apothecary. In between my wellness sessions, I would often find myself here, reading a book while sipping rejuvenating herbal teas.

All the rooms in Zulal follow the same design principles. Serenity’s lagoon-facing 47 Grand Deluxe Room, where I stayed, has a plunge pool, a spacious bathroom with a bathtub, and a private terrace. The 11, two-room Junior Suites, are beach-facing and equipped with a walk-in wardrobe.

Most rooms in the resort have a private plunge pool.

The Shinan Suite also has two bedrooms and a sauna and a private garden. The top category Qataf Suite has three bedrooms, a large terrace overlooking the beach, a bathing area with steam bath and sauna facilities and a swimming pool, a plunge pool and a private garden.

Discovery mainly has two-room villas, equipped with most of the above facilities.

What I liked the most about the rooms is the attention to the smallest details. Beyond the usual bath robes, beach towels and sunscreen, the wardrobe also has a beach bag, and an umbrella to shield you from the sun. Their two-in-one, coffee-cum-water bottles with your name embossed on it is a feel-good surprise. I also enjoyed the welcome food platter of local fruits and dry fruits including dates and apricots. The refrigerator is stocked with kombucha tea and sugar-free and gluten-free energy bars.

Zulal takes its healthy food seriously. Chef Indrajit Saha and his team serve organic, gluten-free and refined sugar-free fare across its restaurants. Aizoon and Al Sidr are formal dining restaurants. Casuarina is a spa café and Malbu is a beach club.

From pastas to seafood and even salads, all their food is delicious and plated beautifully. Amongst my favourites were the beetroot moutabel, pumpkin hummus, and gluten-free breads that are even better than gluten-packed ones.

If you are on a weight-loss programme or if your calorie intake must be restricted, all the restaurants will keep a count on how many calories you have had for each meal and share the information with others. The waiters at all the restaurants will tell you how many calories you have consumed and how many you are left with. For the guests’ convenience, the menus come with the exact number of calories in each dish.

I would also like to complement all the instructors, doctors, therapists, restaurants, housekeeping and all other staff members of the resort. Anything you want or ask for, their answer is always “Certainly”. A heart-felt, efficient service is what makes Zulal stand out from other wellness resorts.

Getting there
Zulal is 5 km away from the city of Al Ruwais and 112 km or 1.5-hour drive away from Doha, Qatar’s capital city. The best way to get to Doha from Europe or UK is by flight.

Fact Box
Rooms can be booked from £545 pppn.

Address: Zulal Wellnss Resort, Madīnat ash Shamāl، Al Ruwais, Qatar

Phone: +974 4477 6500

Website: zulal.com

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