Authentic Qatari heritage meets ultimate modern luxury at The Ritz-Carlton Sharq Village, Doha and Amica Sicilia experiences what happens in this unique fusion.
Part of the beauty and the fascination of this city lies in its paradox: tradition alongside innovation, an oasis in the desert, the breakneck pace of urban life beside the eternal peace of the sea. If we want to thrive, we need both. But when the rat race gets too much, I know exactly where to rediscover my balance. At the heart of this modern metropolis sits a sanctuary village, The Ritz-Carlton Spa Sharq Village.
The marvel of Sharq Village is that as you walk through, it keeps revealing new delights. Marble halls inspired by the luxury of a shaikh’s palace, perfect for lazy afternoons drinking saffron-scented coffee and grazing on dates. A maze of courtyards, gardens and fountains. There’s the golden sand of the gently curving private beach, looking out on the Doha skyline. But follow the winding alleyways between low white stone and adobe villas and you reach the resort’s real hidden gem, the 6,500 square-metre spa.
I start to relax as soon as I step into the graceful double-height atrium. The whole space is designed to recall the privacy and intimacy of a traditional Qatari home. Cool water flows onto a bed of river stones between banded wood columns. Soft light filters through the mashrabiya carved wooden screens, illuminating geometric al sadu traditional textiles and intricate al khous mats, woven from date palms.
I am welcomed by Ravi, my guide for the day, with a glass of chilled lauki juice, freshly pressed from bottle gourds rich in iron, calcium and vitamins B12, C and K. It’s the first sign that this isn’t just a spa, but a holistic wellness centre, focussed on whole-body health.
My first stop of the day is with Osama, the fitness director, in the gym. The priority here is to precision tailor my exercise exactly to my body and my needs. I step on the scales with some trepidation, but this isn’t (just) about weight, it’s about analysing my entire metabolism to maximise results for my effort. Based on my readings, Osama then guides me through what the sleek machines of the state-of-the-art ladies’ gym can do for my body. Then it’s time to look beyond the physical. I join Ravi back in the majlis over a breakfast platter of tropical fruits to talk about how I really am. Together we identify the habits – healthy and less so – that typify my life, in a truly personalised 360-degree wellness consultation.
My reward for such self-scrutiny is the best hot-stone massage of my life. My therapist Tari first bathes my feet in warm rosewater before helping me relax on the bed where – luxury of luxuries – I find that the bed itself is heated! Hot-stone massage dates back over 2,000 years to ancient China. The secret is that these are not just any stones, they are volcanic basalt, smooth as silk, dark and incredibly dense, they originate from lava and are by their very nature extraordinary at holding gentle heat. Tari focusses their healing power on my back and shoulders, where these supercharged pressure points detoxify, improve lymphatic flow and dissolve tension away. As the stones gently radiate their energy along my back, Tari turns to my other limbs, working any remaining tension from the muscles with ESPA’s relaxing and soothing signature oil. The scents of myrrh and rose geranium fill the air as my skin is nourished with avocado and sweet almond, rich in Omegas 6 and 9 with calming well-being actives magnesium, valerian and ashwaganda.
Full wellness, of course, also requires full nourishment. In a private relaxing majlis space, I am served a healthy feast on spotless silver trays. A fragrant soup of lentil, cumin and coriander sits beside a duo of colourful crisp salads, one the chef ’s take on a Waldorf, aromatic with walnuts and blue cheese, the other a classic Caesar with lean grilled chicken. My lunch fit for a queen is completed by delicately steamed salmon with lemon thyme and sauteed vegetables and a freshly squeezed juice of carrot and red apple.
After lunch, it’s time for an absolute first for me, sleep yoga, to complete the mind-body connection in a virtuous circle of relaxation. If you’re anything like me and always on the go, mind racing, this is something approaching actual magic. I lie back on a low mat in a softly candlelit room. Guided by Ravi, I’m told to send my mind to each muscle of my body, feeling its presence, its strength and then sending it into deep relaxation. As the brain helps the physical body find peace, I start to drift off, at one with the space. After half an hour, the voice of Ravi brings me back to the present moment and I wake as refreshed as after a full night’s sleep.
The final step of my journey is in my favourite element, water. And here the indulgence reaches new heights. For a water journey like no other, I find myself in a private Hammam room. Set deep into alcoves around the walls beneath a high domed ceiling sit a series of circular pools, each one at a different temperature. To my left, my own private sauna in pale wood; to my right a pearly tiled steam room. The dry golden heat of the sauna evaporates the last of my stress away. But, like this city, the true beauty of the Hammam is revealed through contrast. I gather my courage and slip into the cold water pool, releasing a rush of endorphins. Every cell of my body is alive, awake, present and reinvigorated.
I could stay here forever, but when the water has worked its magic, I wander back through quiet courtyards to watch the sunset slip behind the city skyline from the tranquillity of my secluded village beach.