In the ever-changing hospitality industry, which continuously experiences a resurgence in renovation, wellness focused design has emerged as a growing trend where guest experience and treatment carry equal importance as the surroundings they are in. This concept is primarily based on infusing wellness into design with the goal of unfolding narratives and creating spaces that evoke positivity and subtly heighten awareness of guests and visitors.
Chiva-Som’s flagship in the Middle East, Zulal Wellness Resort, designed in harmony with its surroundings, has taken on the trend of wellness design to reflect on the rich heritage of Qatar in a contemporary manner. The resort, brought to life by Qatar's premier master developers, Msheireb Properties and known for its Arabic meaning, pure water, was conceived and inspired by the integration of natural elements; land, sea and shelter, all of which are reflected into every architectural element.
Zulal’s landscape was designed to seamlessly blend into its coastal desert setting. The design concept was driven by the extensive use of natural materials including gravel and sand as well as textured concrete paving to compliment the resort’s surrounding. The wellness focused design was also driven by the water element which was infused through the implementation of majestic lagoons and oases at key zones throughout the resort, making it the focal element in the design concept.
Hind Al Kaabi, Senior Architect at Msheireb Properties, said, “The design concept for Zulal Wellness Resort is truly unique as it embraces the local environment and incorporates design elements that evoke a sense of tranquillity and serenity. This is evident in the use of water as a central element in the resort to instil a sense of calmness and well-being and offer a full-immersive wellness experience.”
From the exterior, which is tinted with shades of Qatar’s beautiful desert, designed to resemble sand dunes right to interior walk paths engraved with the “Sidra” tree leaves and windows that are carved with the infamous “Mashrabiye” pattern, Zulal’s design is a beautiful integration to Qatar’s landscape. The carefully choregraphed spaces of the resort follow a courtyard typology, designed to offer a seamless flow of open spaces and reflect on Qatar’s traditional villages.
Fatima Fawzi, Design Manager at Msheireb Properties said, “Zulal’sdesign concept is a reflection of its mission to promote wellness while still staying true tothe Qatari landscape. The vision of Zulal is human-centric where we made it a priority to weave elements that are natural and manmade. The beauty of Qatar’s heritage can be found throughout the resort, from material, colour schemes to patterns all of which were interwoven into the resort.”
With the Qatari essence in mind, Zulal’s interior spaces were designed with very light and calming materials inspired by the clarity and purity of its picturesque surrounding beach. Earth tones accented by blue hues and shades of traditional wood can be found throughout the resorts’ rooms and living spaces to create a contemporary space that still has touches of traditional arrangements inspired by the “naqsh” pattern. Whether looking out the window or walking through the pathways of Zulal, the resort is surrounded by lush gardens of “Sidra” trees and lapped by crystal clear waters of the Arabian Gulf, all of which are primal ingredients of the Zulal wellness journey.
Shaikha Al Sulaiti, Interior Design Manager at Msheireb Properties said, “Zulal’s design concept is a bespoke one, carefully curated to speak to the needs and requirements of our guests. What we had in mind the whole time is that wellness design greatly influences our physical health as well as our emotional state of mind. With that being said, we wanted to bring the outdoors and create indoor environments at Zulal that reference nature in a subtle way without overpowering the true essence of Zulal’s design vision.”
With the ambition to remain sustainable, Zulal has managed to incorporate recyclable wood and sea water into the resort, thanks to the designer’s efforts to utilise every space to induce the sustainable element. Moreover, Zulal’s soft landscape was also designed with wellness at its core, utilizing salt-tolerant and local plants that blend harmoniously with the resort’s coastal desert surroundings. And to truly underpin the treatments offered at Zulal, a medicinal and health-giving plant palette was derived from Zulal’s holistic treatment menu.
Nasser Al Kubaisi, Senior Interior Designer at Msheireb Properties, commented, “The design concept is quite simple yet powerful as it aims to bring people to peace with their surroundings. Environmental wellness is part of the bigger picture and it is not just about the addition of plants and flowers. However, natural light, good air quality, natural textures, materials and of course beautiful natural views will contribute to the guest experiences and overall wellness journey.”
Zulal’s landscape approach was truly inspired by its foundation for wellness and has flawlessly linked all three elements of nature. From the entrance to the beach, the wellness venture managed to engulf itself in a scenic setting where the desert meets the sea.
The power of design doesn’t just lie in providing a memorable guest experience but creating a landscape with a purpose. Zulal’s design combines a deep understanding of its mission to promote wellness and a strong narrative that tells the story of Qatar, with all tangible and emotional aspects of a guest’s stay taken into accountability.