By now most people living in Doha are aware of the luxurious new resort on Banana Island, which is equipped with everything from a surf pool to a heli-pad. Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara is certainly a plush choice for a stay-cation or any flying visit, with its over water villas, plenteous dining options and any kind of recreational facility you can think of.
What’s not as well known, however, is that the resort is home to the first wellness centre of its kind in the Middle East – a holistic lifestyle retreat which promises the opportunity to de-stress, detox or lose a few pounds while enjoying a customised wellness ‘journey’.
Heading to the island
After hopping on a yacht ferry for a 20-minute trip across the water, arrival at the Balance Wellness Centre is an unsurprisingly chilled affair. The centre occupies a plum spot on the small island – you can’t miss it – and incorporates 12 therapy rooms (with separate facilities for ladies and gents), an organic café, male and female fitness centres, a ladies-only hydro-pool and the ‘Upper Zen Garden’. There is also an upstairs lounging area where guests recline in cabanas and sup herbal infusions. Clients are encouraged to slip off their shoes and walk around the ‘reflexology river’, which is embedded with different textured pebbles to wake up the feet.
There are centuries-old therapies – the equipment for traditional ayurvedic massage had just been delivered when Time Out visited – as well as ultra-modern facilities, such as an infrared sauna room and float pod tanks.
Services are classified according to three levels…
‘Experience’ is the shortest option – clients choose from a 30-minute wellness consultation, 60- to 90-minute body therapies, yoga, fitness training, or meditation.
‘Engage’ includes half-day, full-day or weekend ‘wellness journeys’ incorporating body treatments, facials, lifestyle workshops and cookery classes.
The ‘journey’ is tailored to suit personal requirements, such as weight loss, detox, or anti-ageing.
Finally, ‘Immerse’ takes the experience to the next level with wellness, yoga and ayurvedic retreats held over three days up to a week.
Spa and wellness director Aye Mon Yee explains the ultimate goal is to provide clients with a long-term perspective on improving their wellbeing, while giving them the support they need to do so. ‘We are not only offering wellness treatments, we go through the whole journey together with the client,’ she says.
A wellness ‘journey’
For example, a typical half-day ‘journey’ begins with a wellness consultation. The client is assessed using a computerised monitor which determines not only body weight and fat, but muscle mass and ideal calorie consumption.
Then, it’s time for treatments. The de-stress journey, for instance, starts with a Himalayan sea salt foot ritual, followed by a massage, facial and foot reflexology using naturally sourced skincare products and oils. To aid weight loss or cellulite reduction, clients can add in a session with an infrared ultrasound machine, which involves a therapist using a shower-head like implement to massage the skin as the machine generates heat.
Once treatments are over, it’s time to pop next door to the Zest Organic Café for a grilled veggie and beetroot hummus wrap or a seasonal fruit platter.
An active process
The opportunity to mix and match treatments to suit individual goals is the main appeal of the centre, along with its extensive facilities.
Senior wellness consultant Dr Kannan Nettath, who hails from a family of traditional ayurvedic physicians in India, says the idea was to give clients total freedom to relax and indulge between their treatments, or to go for tailored programmes for maximum benefit. ‘The focus of our wellness programmes is on balancing as well as rejuvenating the mind, body and spirit,’ he explains. ‘Wellness is an active process of making choices towards a healthier existence. It is the constant, conscious pursuit of living life to its fullest potential.’
Dr Kannan Nettath
QR220 fitness or yoga session; QR350 wellness or nutritional consultation; QR1,500 half-day journey, QR2,500 full-day journey (final price depends on option).
Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara, www.doha.anantara.com (4040 5050).