A holistic journey is Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som’s approach to wellness, and Thomene Dilley went there to check it out.
Nestled at the northernmost tip of Qatar is the exclusive Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som. Surrounded by the Arabian Gulf, this exquisite property is secluded to guarantee privacy, yet conveniently accessible with a mere 60-minute drive from the centre of Doha. It is a sanctuary dedicated to you, to bring wellness and tranquility while reviving all your senses – mind, body and soul. It invites you to simply switch technology off and turn nature back on.
Driving through the gates, you are immediately immersed in complete bliss as the birds sing, welcoming you to Qatar’s only resort with a completely holistic approach. Guest Experience Manager Fanor took us through to an intimate welcome area. ‘Marhaba’ echoed as we walked through, heading downstairs to one of their two libraries. In the House of Inspiration, I was immediately transported into a magical world. This enchanting space was every bibliophile’s dream, with books ranging from great philosophers to cars, Versace and How Not to Die. While I lost myself in this opulent room of knowledge, they checked us in seamlessly.
Walking outside, every sense was brought to life with the sound of water, the smell of honeysuckle and an abundance of tree species with the crystalline serenity of the lagoon calmly running through the middle of the property. Spanning over 280,000sq/m of lush greenery with a massive bird population, the resort functions across two areas, Zulal Discovery and Zulal Serenity.
We stayed in Zulal Discovery, which is dedicated to families and welcomes guests of all ages. There are 120 rooms and suites, all with health and wellness in mind. They have a ‘no devices out of your room’ policy, which helps with a deeper connection to nature. There is a magnificent swimming area with a heated chlorinated pool and a cooler saltwater pool that forms part of the lagoon. Lifeguards are visible until 8pm and there is ample space on the plush recliners with fresh towels and water on hand.
The rooms have been inspired by the ocean with a great emphasis on Qatar’s rich heritage. Beautiful neutral colours amplify Zulal’s sustainability ethos with exquisite natural textures, lines and eco-friendly fabrics. Our Discovery Junior Suite was peaceful and elegantly furnished encompassing 59sq/m that includes a reclining area, an en-suite bathroom, a dressing area and a private balcony. The bathroom had a generous bath, perfect for taller guests. We loved the refillable pump-action bottles in the shower for shampoo, conditioner and shower gel. The shaving kit offered a reusable biodegradable razor alongside a wooden comb, manicure set, hand soap, refillable hand cream and a hairdryer. The rain shower was simply glorious, with a convenient seated area inside the cubicle. The king-sized bed was nothing short of luxurious. It felt like sleeping on a soft cloud while the duvet enfolded me like the gentle embrace of Mother Nature herself. They offer a range of pillows on a pillow menu and all the high-quality linen is eco-friendly and biodegradable.
I must say, the in-room wellness minibar was by far the highlight. They stocked the fridge with a selection of juice and two trays of juicy plump berries, energising date balls and dried fruits. It was the perfect nibble between meals and left us feeling invigorated and satiated. A really nice touch was a delectable selection of fresh tea leaves and flowers, ready to brew in teabags big enough to sit cosily in a teapot and plenty enough for two.
We decided to explore and found ourselves at the exquisite restaurant Aizoon. Seated right next to the lagoon, Rony the restaurant manager, came over and made us feel like royalty. While we enjoyed the sea breeze, we sipped on refreshing mocktails; a personal favourite, the Kiwi Cucumber Crush with added lemon, basil and honey. It hit all the right notes, a beautiful culmination of sweet, sour and slightly spicy. We loved the lunchtime buffet with a succulent carvery of meats for my son and a crisp and fresh salad bar for my taste buds. The choice of homemade vegan ice creams was the creamiest and tastiest I have had in Qatar. Incidentally, the resort only uses honey, including white royal honey from Kazakhstan and coconut sugar in desserts and mocktails. Zulal is completely dairy-free with a strong emphasis on plant-based cuisine, which suited me perfectly. But, they also have the best Wagyu beef, according to my son, and serve only organic chicken and vegetables and fresh seafood at the restaurants.
At Acacia Restaurant, they have an Urban Cultivator where they grow micro greens and herbs under controlled temperature and humidity conditions. During my solo dining experience there, I was treated like gold by Ali, the restaurant manager, and Jerry, the restaurant supervisor for Acacia and Malbu. The star of the show was the hot grape leaf stuffed with a flavoursome lentil filling with tones of citrus, along with my favourite, muhammara and micro greens. The next evening, Ali enticed us to the Mediterraneanstyle beach club Malbu, where children are allowed. The aroma of grilled seafood on the open fire and the ocean air fills your soul with a deep sense of contentment. I also tried Al-sidr restaurant, on the Zulal Serenity side of the resort, where my taste buds were treated to their Pan-Asian cuisine. Eating the Detox Curry was the moment my soul left my body. I wanted to swim in it. A coconut base infused with lime leaf, sweet basil, red chili and galangal. The kitchen maestros graciously give out any of their recipes and they also have a cooking studio where you can learn to make various cuisines and attend workshops. For a more casual dining experience, the lagoon-side café Casuarina offers daytime light meals and snacks.
Zulal, the Arabic word meaning pure natural water, focuses on the Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine (TIAM) system of well-being. It is a diagnostic approach to guide guests’ selection of programmes, discussing the appropriate therapy to sustain health and well-being. I met with Orranat, my consultant, at the Discovery Oasis reception to find out which packages were suitable for myself and my son. Orranat was gentle and intuitive as she guided me through a questionnaire about my health and background. We settled on the Stress Reset and Burnout Recovery Retreat, which included my diet, daily treatments, activities and tools to take home to continue my holistic approach. My son joined the kids’ club suited to his age, the Falcon Studio for eight to 12-year-olds. His activities included exploring the environment (identifying birds, insects and plant species), sketching and rock painting. They have clubs for all ages and a range of options to stimulate physical activity, creativity, family connection and to develop positive, lasting habits.
My treatments included a signature full-body Tadleek, which was a deeply relaxing massage enhancing blood and lymphatic flow, an Oriental scalp massage, to release tension from the head, neck and shoulders, the incredible Al-Qadam, a rhythmic foot massage that soothes tired feet and enhances relaxation, and Al-Batin, an abdominal massage that goes deep to alleviate the tension we carry that causes digestive issues. They were all done by different professionals. All the therapists used sweet almond or coconut oil on my skin and the therapy rooms were beautifully serene and calm while soothing all the senses through gentle music, touch and the essence of essential oils. After my deeply relaxing scalp massage, therapist Kedar entered the room and performed an incredible Reiki session on me using crystals, singing bowls and energy healing. By the time I left the therapy room, I was floating. I could not have been more relaxed. My final session was Pranayama Breathing, guided by Aarti. She took me through various very effective deep breathing exercises in the exquisite yoga studio and showed me some stretches to maintain flexibility and release tension.
I also had the opportunity to use the extensive gym facilities. The fitness trainers were extremely helpful and friendly and the equipment was topof-the-range.
Zulal takes elegance and tranquillity to the next level. You owe it to yourself to bring a renewed sense of well-being into your life, giving you the lasting tools to be a healthier, happier you, be it on your own or with your family. They are currently running a New Year, New You programme until January 31. Keep an eye on their social media and website for visiting therapists and specialists.