Qatar Travel Guide: Luxury Wellness Getaways
Qatar may host the FIFA World Cup later this year, but there’s so much more to explore in this country than football. If your vibe is more pampered than punished, then look no further as the Middle Eastern nation has become a hotspot for high-end wellness and luxury getaways.
But wellness is not a new concept in the region. In fact, Qatari culture is intimately tied to the principles of Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine (TAIM), which follows a holistic approach that combines traditional healing practices with herbal remedies and dietary practices.
Certain TAIM traditions have been used in Qatar and the region for thousands of years. Now, as we begin to appreciate the importance of wellness in our lives, modern practitioners are breathing new life into it with new ideas.
Here’s the best way to leave Qatar feeling refreshed, healthier and like a new you.
Where to try TAIM
Qatar’s newest and fanciest resort is Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som, a 280,000 m² property which opened earlier this year. His concept has already attracted the rich and famous, including Qatari royalty. Its tailor-made programs are based at TAIM and at the start of your stay you will receive an in-depth consultation with an expert who will assess the best treatments to achieve your personal goals, as well as any health concerns you may have.
The food here is healthy yet delicious, and there are six restaurants on-site. Located in the desert of northern Qatar and overlooking the Arabian Gulf, guests are transported to a world of peace and tranquility. The minimalist common areas were designed by renowned Belgian architect Axel Vervoordt, famous for Kim Kardashian’s monochrome house, and the property has a library that holds 4,000 books.
Where to eat
Most visitors stay in the capital Doha, the country’s largest city and the cultural hub of Qatar. Located at the point where the Middle East meets Asia, the small peninsular state has long been a melting pot of cultures, and the variety of cuisine available reflects this. Lebanese spot Bayt el Talleh is a must, offering aromatic grilled meats in a sumptuous setting and views of the sparkling Doha skyline.
Located at the InterContinental Doha Beach & Spa, La Mar is the best Peruvian restaurant in town and features the acclaimed cuisine of celebrity chef Gastón Acurio, including ceviches, fresh seafood and small plates. Be sure to try a signature cocktail, especially the Pisco Sour, which is a Peruvian specialty.
If you’re looking for something a little healthier, Evergreen Organics Cafe is 100% vegan and serves juices, kombuchas, and colorful plates. It’s in the Qanat district of the man-made island The Pearl, which was designed to remind Venice, with canals and even a mini Rialto Bridge.
Where to stay
The five-star Ritz-Carlton in northern Doha is an oasis in the city, with a private beach, sculpted pool complex, and spa. It has 374 luxury rooms with breathtaking views of the capital, Asprey toiletries and decoration in Tuscan marble and French oak. Its seven restaurants and bars make it the perfect setting for relaxing in the evening.
Where to reconnect with nature
For a little piece of paradise, head to Banana Island, which is a 20-minute boat ride from Doha. The upscale resort offers water sports including paddle boarding, kayaking, and, of course, a banana boat.
If you prefer to relax, however, lounge chairs line its golden sands and a spa is on hand to ensure you come away refreshed. You can visit for the day or stay in one of the only overwater villas in the country, and there are seven restaurants.
If you’d rather be on land, head to Qatar’s vast desert for a sand safari, race down the dunes in a 4×4 or fish in the Khor Al Adaid Inland Sea. Sunrise offers particularly spectacular views.
Where to shop
Doha is definitely a rich person’s playground, but you don’t have to have a Cartier budget to enjoy retail therapy. Souq Waqif is a traditional Middle Eastern market, with winding alleys and merchant owners.
The market was founded at least a century ago by Bedouins who sold their wares here, but it was destroyed in a fire in 2003. The restoration however preserved its cultural identity and the architecture was sympathetically designed in Qatari style. Come here for spices, fabrics, souvenirs and shisha, as well as restaurants including the colorful Parisa, which serves Persian cuisine.
Trip details: how to get there
Qatar Airways flies six times a day from Heathrow and Gatwick in London directly to Hamad International Airport in Doha and then to more than 140 destinations worldwide. Qatar Airways is the only airline to have held the title “Skytrax Airline of the Year” for five years.
For more information and to book a flight, visit qatarairways.com. For more information and to plan your vacation in Qatar, visit visitqatar.com.