The Middle East’s first fully-immersive wellness resort Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som is one of the most highly-anticipated openings of the year. Set to open in Qatar, the new wellness destination will be the world’s first centre for Traditional Arabic Islamic Medicine (TAIM). Daniele Vastolo was recently appointed as the General Manager of the resort, bringing his expertise in sustainable health and wellness merged with luxury lifestyle. We speak to Daniele on his wellness role models, wellness retreats at Zulal and turning a crisis into an opportunity.
Tell us about your life before Zulal. Prior to Zulal, I was a General Manager at one of Beirut’s five-star luxury properties. Before that, I was a Group Director of Operations in Lebanon, Greece and Turkey. Before stepping into the Middle East, I also worked with international hospitality groups and luxury properties across the globe.
What was your first healthy holiday experience? My first healthy holiday experience was when I visited the Posedion Thermal Gardens in the gulf of Naples, which is a one-of-a-kind ancient roman hot spring thermal park. The 20 pools have temperatures ranging from 28 to 40 degrees Celsius. The underground thermal water is heated by the volcanic rocks which are known for treating orthopaedic ailments and respiratory problems and are said to have rejuvenating effects on the skin, as well as assisting with stress and ageing issues.
Who are your role models and why? I recently started following Andrew Weil, an integrative medicine Guru who has been preaching the importance of integrative medicine and its ability to heal the mind, body and spirit, since the 1970s. Highlighting the significance of anti-inflammatory diet, Weil’s concepts have finally become popular amongst the mainstream audiences around the world.
What do you hope guests will take away from their stay? Zulal Wellness Resort offers two venues for health and wellbeing. Adults can access a wide range of therapeutic and lifestyle enhancement treatments based upon traditional Arabic and Islamic wellness principles throughout the destination. The Family Wellness Resort enables families to enjoy positive wellness experiences together, inspiring young children and their parents to engage in fun, interactive activities that help them learn more about adopting a healthy lifestyle. Zulal Wellness Resort offers guests unique services and treatments, which are based upon Islamic wellness principles and using indigenous ingredients to the region.
What wellness retreats would you recommend for guests on their first stay at Zulal? No two retreats are the same for our guests and our retreats are tailor made to suit the guest’s wellness goals and needs. Our retreats are designed around six modalities of wellness—Nutrition, Physio, Spa, Aesthetics, Fitness and Holistic Therapies. The experience begins with a consultation upon arrival with our Health & Wellness Advisors, then the guest is guided towards a retreat programme fit for their specific needs.
What was the incentive behind opening this resort? Opening the resort and welcoming guests both regionally and internationally is set to be part of Qatar’s 2030 National Vision that aims at contributing to the strategic plans of diversifying the tourism economy and serving as the pioneering wellness destination for guests from around the world.
You have set and achieved big goals. What process do you swear by? Self-reflection is one of the key elements that helps me to think critically about my own work and goals and it enables me to make decisions about future steps and processes, while keeping in mind that failure can also be an option.
How do you remain aware and mindful of your thoughts and catch yourself when you’re in a negative thought pattern? I am spiritually engaged and this something that helps me a lot, especially when times are challenging. When things do not go as expected, it contributes to my emotional wellbeing which in return gives me the power to look to at the positive side of things.
The most powerful transformations can come through difficult times or a crisis because people are forced to have a breakthrough. How have you changed a crisis into an opportunity? The recent pandemic has shifted peoples’ lifestyle choices and objectives towards adopting healthier living, reconnecting with loved ones and appreciating wellness despite the hardship it might have caused. It has inspired many of us to live life to the fullest and appreciate the time we have together.