Business Traveller Middle East - July-August 2024

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e evolving face of well-being travel and its business potential Flight routes and hidden gems inspiring an uncharted summer

e climate-inspired trend that rede nes beating the heat


Amali Island: the ultra-luxury destination transforming life into a perpetual vacation

Bali • Hotel health clubs • Tried & Tested

Choices, Infinite Memories

Uncover SO/Sotogrande’s oasis of tranquillity and wellness, immerse yourself in the rich historical Heritage Grand Perast, and revel in a sense of discovery in Hyde Bodrum. Every hotel and resort within the ALL Inclusive Collection is a precious jewel waiting to be discovered.

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Heritage Grand Perast
Hyde Bodrum




Christopher Vahanian, co-founder of e Lab Studios and Organic Press Juices, and founder of FÍO Athletics


George Ghaly, general manager of e First Collection at JVC, a Tribute Portfolio hotel 40 INSIDE SCOOP

e future of the hotel spa industry

Ra es Al Areen Palace Bahrain


e evolving face of well-being travel across the globe, and its expanding business potential

H World International’s Oliver Bonke is ready for a new era

24 PEOPLE, PURPOSE, PROCESS Radisson’s Tim Cordon is set to lead the brand to new heights

35 OFF THE BEATEN PATH Flight routes and hidden gems inspiring an uncharted summer


42 ON THE MOVE Tips to stay t while jet-setting


e island paradise continually rede ning the ultimate getaway


e rise of the executive retreat


e climate-inspired trend that rede nes beating the heat

Island: the ultra-luxury destination transforming life into a perpetual vacation

Iwas 14 years old when I had my rst true introduction to the idea of holistic wellness.

A substitute gym teacher at my high school had invited my entire class into an assembly hall to try a simple body scan-style meditation, and although I’d initially sco ed at it, by the end, I was a convert. e clarity and introspection it had given me was immense, and I knew even then that this practice could be life-changing – for my relationship with myself as well as with others. Fast forward 25 years, and not only do I still turn to meditation on a regular basis to help maintain my mental and emotional well-being, I also believe in it so much that I’ve even become a certi ed meditation and mindfulness teacher myself. What can I say? It’s powerful stu .

Once thought of as something reserved for hippies and monks, over the past decade or two, an increase in evidence-based research about the bene ts of such practices has led to an estimated 270-500 million people worldwide meditating regularly. Mind-body practices have become an integral part of the global wellness industry, which reached a record value of US$5.6 trillion in 2023, and is predicted to grow by a whopping 52 per cent by 2027.

Travel has long been closely associated with wellness. It’s a chance to rest and recuperate, discover new perspectives, and allow ourselves time for more presence and joy. So it’s little wonder that the global wellness tourism market, as well as real estate developments designed to help people feel more psychologically, physically, and socially healthy, are also booming. Nowadays, the concept of living well has become inextricably linked to the luxuries that bring us pleasure, and groundbreaking projects like Amali Island (p14) are showing us how profoundly an ultra-luxury island lifestyle can make every day feel like a perpetual holiday.

Hotels around the world are also stepping up their game with increased health-conscious o erings for everything from biohacking and tailored tness training to multi-generational wellness retreats, sleep tourism, rehabilitation, and everything in between (p18). Spas are always evolving (p40), medical tourism is having a moment (p26), and the importance of mental health, including for executive leaders, has come under the spotlight (p28).

As the travel industry embraces the appeal of more personalised choices, there are endless opportunities for a bit of seasonal joy. You can “coolcation” in a more brisk climate (p52), explore the road less travelled (p35), or visit some of the world’s most rejuvenating destinations (p46 & p50). Or you could treat yourself to a lavish hotel health club (p64). Whatever you choose, I hope you have a restorative summer. See you in September!

New ight routes to explore this summer (Page 35)



Editor-in-Chief Obaid Humaid Al Tayer

Managing Partner and Group Editor Ian Fairservice

Editor Yi-Hwa Hanna

Art Director Clarkwin Cruz

Editorial Co-ordinator Londresa Flores


Contributors Zana Azeredo, Alexandra Venison, Camille Macawili, Aneesha Rai, Alice Holtham

General Manager – Production S Sunil Kumar

Production Manager Binu Purandaran

Production Supervisor Venita Pinto

Chief Commercial Officer Anthony Milne

Group Sales Manager Chaitali Khimji

Senior Sales Manager Murali Narayanan


Managing Director Julian Gregory

Associate Publisher Middle East Rania Apthorpe

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Business Traveller Middle East
jointly published by Motivate Media Group and Panacea Media Ltd

Embark on a luxurious stay in the privacy of your own villa

Relax, unwind and make the most of your stay at Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort. Gaze out at an enchanting underwater world through the glass viewing panel of your Over-Water Villa, or slip into your private pool in a Beach Pool Villa. Rise to dazzling sea views and enjoy a delicious breakfast at Crescendo or Revo Cafe with a vista of the Arabian Gulf and Dubai’s stunning coastline.

Package includes:

Up to 30% savings on accommodation in a One Bedroom Over Water Villa or One Bedroom Beach Pool Villa. Daily breakfast for two people.


e Mandarin Oriental, Muscat is the hotel group’s rst property in Oman. Located in Shatti Al-Qurum, it also o ers 156 private branded residences featuring a unique architectural concept by renowned French interior designer Xavier Cartron. e hotel has 103 guest rooms and 47 suites, which use locally-sourced natural materials alongside elements inspired by Omani landscapes and culture, including a bed backboard resembling the “Kuma” – the traditional Omani hat – and brass lanterns inspired by the iconic “Khanjar” dagger. e lobby is fronted by large Omani-style wooden doors, opening upon three fountains and a grand chandelier, all of which looks out upon the sea, with a mountain backdrop. e hotel has ve restaurants, a lounge, and a spa with bespoke wellness therapies, a traditional hammam, and a tness and wellness centre with the latest gym technology. ere is also an outdoor pool, and 2,000 sqm of indoor plus 335 sqm of outdoor events space, an 800 sqm ballroom with an adjoining bridal room, and three dedicated banqueting and meeting spaces. To celebrate the opening, the resort has a Fans of Muscat package available until 31 August, that includes accommodation as well as a private guided tour of the Royal Opera House, plus credit for F&B and wellness experiences.


MARRIOTT HOTELS is bringing Manchester United's iconic Old Tra ord experience to the UAE through the newly-introduced “Twinned Suite of Dreams” at the Marriott Resort Palm Jumeirah. The suite, which is already available for bookings and will be available for a limited time only, includes themed décor, with memorabilia that will remind guests and fans of Manchester United’s historic victories, alongside Marriott’s signature touches. Special features include a movies, music and gaming hub, an adidas Predator Boot display (a chance to explore one of the world’s most iconic boot designs during its ‘90s evolution, tied to stories of the most memorable goals and milestones of the era), a Treble Tribute, and a retro mini-bar.

Gama Aviation makes major progress on Sharjah Business Aviation Centre

Gama Aviation has completed a 36,000 sqm parking apron – a major milestone in its journey to completing the Sharjah Business Aviation Centre. Gama Aviation, which provides aircra management, charter, maintenance, trip support, and FBO services, will be facilitating a range of business jet types, helicopters, and future eVTOL air systems through the centre, which is expected to open by Q2 in 2025. Delivering business aviation infrastructure to Sharjah International Airport, the centre will comprise a c14,000 sqm airconditioned premium hangar, c36,000 sqm of dedicated aircra parking apron, a world-class VVIP terminal, optimised fast access to the aircra for owners and ight crew, fast road connections to Downtown Dubai and Dubai International Financial Centre, and enhanced in-house MRO capabilities. In the interim, Gama Aviation’s existing facility at Sharjah International Airport remains open.


The Department of Culture and Tourism –Abu Dhabi has signed an agreement with Hilton Hotels, to enhance the emirate’s appeal through special deals and discounts for various iconic landmarks through the emirate held exclusively for Hilton guests. Hilton will also be featuring Abu Dhabi’s events calendar within the hotel brand’s regional promotional activities, to help amplify their visibility while educating guests about Abu Dhabi’s diverse cultural and leisure o erings.

Idioms from around the world that have us scratching our heads. This issue, it’s a Norwegian expression.

Phrase: Det er ugler i mosen Literally: There are owls in the swamp Meaning: Suspecting something‘s wrong

Aman Group to launch Janu Dubai in 2027

AMAN GROUP, which will open the Aman Dubai within the next few years, has announced that it will also open the Janu Dubai by 2027, in Dubai International Financial District (DIFC). Janu – with its name derived from the Sanskrit word for ‘soul’ – aims to enrich lives through transformative experiences that celebrate genuine human interaction, playful expression, and social wellness. e property will be designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Herzog & de Meuron, and will o er sweeping views across the city skyline. It will encompass 150 hotel rooms, as well as a limited number of Janu branded and fully serviced residences, a member’s club, several dining and bar concepts, multiple dedicated event spaces, and an extensive wellness and tness centre.


READ: You Like It Darker, Stephen King

The master of scary modern storytelling is back with this collection of 12 stories about the darker side of life (metaphorically and literally), tackling topics from fate and mortality to luck and tragedy. Each story promises to be as gripping as the next – just keep the light on when reading! Hodder & Stoughton; £12.50

LISTEN: Dish from Waitrose

Broadcaster Nick Grimshaw and celebrated chef Angela Hartnett are back for the fifth season of this

joyful, food-focused weekly podcast, inviting famous guests such as Martin Freeman, Dua Lipa, and Marian Keyes over for a delicious dinner and chat.

WATCH: Federer: Twelve Final Days

This documentary follows the 12 final days of Roger Federer’s professional tennis career. Directed by Academy Award-winning Asif Kapadia and Joe Sabia, the film shows Federer at his most vulnerable, and includes interviews with rivals and friends – from Rafael Nadal to Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Available on Prime Video from 20 June.

Our picks to make time fly by

the carriers will explore opportunities for interline connectivity on each other’s services, subject to regulatory approval. They will also work on other potential areas of commercial cooperation, including codeshare arrangements, reciprocal benefits for their frequent flyer programme members, cargo services, customer experience, and digital innovation, as a precursor to a deeper, long-term, strategic partnership. These will potentially o er Riyadh Air’s guests access to SIA’s network in Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific region, and SIA’s customers greater access to the Middle East region through Riyadh Air’s future network. Riyadh Air is a new airline based in Saudi Arabia, and it is expected to commence commercial operations in 2025.


SODIC AND Marriott International will be bringing the Tribute Portfolio brand to Egypt with two new hotels that are set to open in 2027 and 2029 respectively, in West Cairo and the North Coast. e Tribute Portfolio hotel at Forty West –SODIC’s signature residential building complex in West Cairo – will open by 2027 with170 guestrooms, including 48 suites, along with multiple dining and recreational facilities. It will be easily accessible from the newlyopened Sphinx Airport and near the Grand Egyptian Museum and Giza Pyramids. e second hotel will open by 2029 and located in June, at SODIC’s Miami-inspired beachfront destination within the up-and-coming Ras al Hekma area on the North Coast, with 180 guestrooms.

Radisson opens Park Inn by Radisson Makkah Thakher Alsharqi

RADISSON HOTEL GROUP has opened its newest hotel, Park Inn by Radisson Makkah Thakher Alsharqi, in the heart of Thakher City – just 2.2 km from the revered Great Mosque in Makkah. With its prime location in Thakher City – a mixed-use development with 97 towers, a mall, and a mosque – Radisson promises that the property will set a new standard for contemporary accommodation in Makkah. The hotel encompasses 133 rooms featuring a blend of comfort and modernity, as well as an all-day dining restaurant and lobby café serving a diverse mix of international and local cuisines. The hotel, which is located just 300m away from the Holy Makkah Municipality and 2km from King Faisal Hospital, o ers free 24-hour shuttle bus services to the Grand Mosque of Makkah for guests.


ONE OF THE MOST anticipated cultural venues to launch in Saudi Arabia this season, teamLab Borderless Jeddah – a collaborative initiative between the Saudi Ministry of Culture and art collective teamLab – opened in Jeddah Historic District on 10 June. Described as “a world of artworks without boundaries, a museum without a map created by teamLab”, teamLab Borderless is one of the world’s most renowned digital art museums. teamLab’s Odaiba,

Japan location received a Guinness World Record in 2021 for the “Most visited museum (single art collective)” that year. A er closing that location in 2022 to re-open in Tokyo, it is still one of Japan’s most popular attractions. e company – which hails from Japan – now has locations in Macao, Beijing, Singapore, Hong Kong, Hamburg, Florida, New York, and will soon be opening in Abu Dhabi in the UAE. Situated in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Jeddah Historic District, teamLab Borderless Jeddah is its rst in the Middle East, and is an initiative by the Quality of Life Programme.

TRADITIONALLY, POINTS earned from hotel stays went towards your next booking or room upgrade.

But things have changed drastically since then. Today, Marriott Bonvoy members could earn points by ying and redeem them for Taylor Swi concert tickets, without a single hotel check-in taking place.

If you’re someone who’s never considered signing up to Marriott’s loyalty programme – or worse –someone with thousands of points languishing in their account, read on.

FLIGHTS: Book your next ight by transferring Marriott Bonvoy points into your frequent yer account. ere are 40 airline partners and most allow you to transfer your points to miles at a 3:1 ratio, including British Airways, Cathay Paci c, Emirates and Qantas. You’ll also get 5,000 bonus miles for every 60,000

How to spend 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points

Think you can only get room upgrades?

Think again. Marriott Bonvoy’s programme stretches from cool tech gadgets to once-ina-lifetime experiences

others open to bidding. is summer, the Castillo Hotel Son Vida, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Mallorca has a special two-night stay package where members will get to watch the Spanish Copa Del Rey Regatta onboard the luxurious Falcao Uno yacht – bid by 18 July to secure your spot.

points you transfer to most frequent yer programmes.

MOMENTS: Head to Marriott Bonvoy Moments™ to access exclusive money-can’t-buy experiences with your points. ere’s an ever-changing line-up of incredible Moments – from culinary masterclasses to premier sporting events – some at a xed rate,

Join for Free:

Look out for “One Point Drops” where packages are available for just a single point. In June, ve lucky members redeemed their points to meet Lewis Hamilton and attend the Qualifying and Race Days at the Dutch Grand Prix in August. You’ll have to be as fast as Lewis to secure the deal though, One Point Drops don’t stick around for long.

SHOP: Indulge in some guilt-free retail therapy. Marriott Bonvoy partners with thousands of great brands for all your lifestyle needs. Snag the latest Beats headphones for 57,500 points or kit out your dream kitchen with Le Creuset crockery.


If you haven’t signed up for Marriott Bonvoy membership yet – get involved. Marriott is the biggest hotel group in the world, with 8,900 properties across more than 30 hotel brands globally. It’s fast and free to sign up to the membership programme and you’ll start earning instantly.

Next, fast track your earning to

make up for lost time.

Credit cards have the double bene t of making your everyday spend work for you (buy a co ee and earn points towards your next dream holiday) and o ering attractive joining bonuses.

Marriott Bonvoy o ers co-brand credit cards across the Middle East including the Marriott Bonvoy World Elite Mastercard in the UAE with Emirates NBD, the Marriott Bonvoy QIB Credit Cards in Qatar with Qatar Islamic Bank and the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Credit Card in Saudi Arabia.

Preferred airline partnerships also o er ways to earn. Members can link their Emirates Skywards account with their Marriott Bonvoy account to start earning both currencies, whether they y or stay at a Marriott Bonvoy property. Other strategic partner airlines include Cathay Paci c, Singapore Airlines and United.

You’ll also earn points with SIXT car rentals, plus enjoying experiences with Marriott Bonvoy Tours and Activities.

Keep an eye out for bonus promotions and points purchase o ers throughout the year too – and if you’re a business event planner, you’ll enjoy up to 3x bonus points on bookings until the end of August.





TO COMMEMORATE the 20-year-anniversary of Jumeirah’s Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project, Jumeirah Al Naseem has introduced a new turtle-themed package for hotel guests that celebrates a dedication to ocean conservation. The stay must be booked for a minimum of two nights, with prices starting from Dhs2,025, and comes with a range of curated experiences including turtleinspired welcome amenities; an ocean-themed four-hands afternoon tea made with sustainably-sourced ingredients and presented on a coral and marble stand; a guided tour of the turtle rehabilitation facilities, aquarium, and lagoon at Jumeirah Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Al Naseem; complimentary selected non-motorised water sports; unlimited access to Wild Wadi Waterpark; use of the wellness facilities at Talise Spa, Talise Fitness, and J Club; access to a map link that enables guests to track the turtles that have been released; and more. The goal is to provide awareness and support for the DTRP’s e orts in rehabilitating and releasing these endangered species back into the wild. Dedicated to the conservation of these precious marine creatures, DTRP is run in collaboration with Dubai’s Wildlife Protection O ice, with support provided by Dubai’s Royal Family veterinary facilities and laboratory work provided by the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory (CVRL). The first project of its kind in the region, the DTRP has been instrumental in releasing more than 2,150 rehabilitated turtles back into their natural habitats since 2004.

Front End conducts historic Air Taxi trial at Makkah during Hajj

A LEADER in integrating advanced technology across various sectors, Saudibased Front End collaborated with China-headquartered EHang Holdings – one of the world’s leading autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) technology platform companies – to enable the world’s rst unmanned air taxi trial last month. Taking place in the holy city of Makkah on 12 June 2024, the successful demonstration of the pilotless electrical vertical takeo and landing (eVTOL) vehicle – the EH216-S, the world’s rst licenced autonomous air taxi – transported Hajj pilgrims between key locations quickly and safely.


Earlier this year, the United Nations (UN) adopted a new global standard to measure the sustainability of tourism. The groundbreaking statistical framework, developed under the leadership of The World Tourism Organization (UN Tourism), has been adopted by all 193 UN member states, and marks a historical milestone towards harnessing the full potential of the sector – and providing a solution to the need for a harmonised methodology to e ectively assess the sustainability of tourism.


SINGAPORE AIRLINES and Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on a broad range of sustainability initiatives. Aimed at advocating for the development and use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in the Asia-Pacific region, a critical decarbonisation lever for the sector, and sharing best practices to boost sustainability performance, the agreement underscores both carriers’ commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Cathay Pacific was one of the first airlines in Asia to set a target of 10 per cent SAF for its total fuel consumption by 2030, while last month Singapore Airlines and Neste signed an agreement for the purchase of 1,000 tonnes of SAF produced locally at Neste’s refinery at Singapore’s Changi Airport.

Kandima Maldives honours World Ocean Day in style

TAKING PLACE annually on 8 June, World Ocean Day’s 2024 theme surrounded catalysing action for our ocean and climate, and Kandima Maldives honoured the occasion through a number of major sustainability-focused activities. e family-friendly and activity-rich resort – which is committed to environmental stewardship and marine conservation– also welcomed their new marine biologist, Michelle Matos. e property encouraged the Kandima community to come together to honour and protect precious ocean ecosystems through a beach-focused Island Cleaning Activity, the creation of eco-friendly artwork using sustainable materials, and an educational brie ng on marine life.

Turkish Airlines launches “Tomorrow On-board” sustainability initiative

TURKISH AIRLINES has launched a sustainability initiative called “Tomorrow On-Board”, encompassing a new cohesive set of principles through which the airline will govern its commitment to sustainability, along with sustainably-made in ight products. e initiative aims to enhance the brand message, deliver a uni ed message and visual framework for all sustainability statements, systematically communicate sustainability activities to investors, and ensure passengers have the opportunity to take part in sustainability initiatives. e announcement was made in June in line with World Environment Day, during a special event held at Turkish Airlines’ main hub, Istanbul Airport. At the event, the airline displayed sustainable in- ight products and services, along with an exhibition titled “41.2607° North and 28.7424° East” that showcased a curated selection of artworks created by interdisciplinary artists. e works were made from repurposed aircra elements such as decommissioned aircra parts, ight crew uniforms and bags, cabin carpets, and seat fabrics, to emphasise the goal of a better world.

At the end of May, Turkish Airlines signed a Memorandum of Understanding with e World Tourism Organization (UN Tourism), the agency of the United Nations and leading public international organisation in tourism, in an e ort to collaborate on common objectives, working closely together to enhance initiatives promoting sustainable tourism and civil aviation on a global scale.

1 TAP to launch nonstop ights to Florianópolis

TAP Air Portugal has announced a new route from Lisbon that is now Europe’s only nonstop flight to the Brazilian city of Florianópolis. The thrice-weekly service will launch on 3 September, operated by an A330-200 aircraft configured with 244 seats in economy and 25 in business class.

2 Qatar Airways resumes ights to Lisbon

Qatar Airways will resume yearround direct flights from Doha to Lisbon, with six weekly flights added to the airline’s summer schedule. The newly-returned route will address high seasonal demand for this popular travel destination – the 47th European destination served by the airline.

3 Edinburgh Airport World Duty Free partners with Walkers Shortbread for worldrst shortbread vending machine

Travellers can use the machine to delve into the Scottish brand’s history and shortbread recipes –as well as taking a quiz that will provide recommendations on products to buy, before treating them to a free shortbread finger.

4 Heathrow relaunches paid-for Fast Track service

Heathrow has brought back its paid-for Fast Track security service for the first time since 2020. Available to pre-book for departures at £12.50 per person, it was relaunched as more than 30 million passengers are expected to travel through the airport between June and September.

5 Lu hansa to o er Allegris cabins on new routes

The new cabins are set to feature on services to Bengaluru and Cape Town this winter, as well as Shanghai and San Francisco this summer. The airline received its first A350 fitted with new economy, premium, and business class products in May. It will also have a first class suite, to launch in Q4.

6 ITA Airways to launch Rome-Dubai route

Following announcements for new flights to Chicago, Toronto, Riyadh, Accra, Dakar, Kuwait City, and Jeddah, ITA Airways has revealed plans to fly between Rome and Dubai from this winter. The new nonstop service will launch on 27 October, served by the carrier’s new A321neo aircraft.

7 Emirates to begin ights to Madagascar

From 3 September 2024, Emirates will be launching flights from Dubai to Antananrivo, routed via the Seychelles. Flights will operate four times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, boosting tourism opportunities within the historically underserved destination.

8 Marriott to open e Ritz-Carlton in Uzbekistan

Marriott International is partnering with Pasha Development Group to develop The Ritz-Carlton, Tashkent. The company’s first property in Uzbekistan, it will be in the Chilanzar district, near major commercial and business areas of the city. It will be 31 storeys high, with 140 guestrooms and suites.

9 Nova Maldives to welcome Emirati chef this July

Nova Maldives will be welcoming Emirati chef Sumaya Obaid for a guest appearance from the 27th to 31st of July. Known for her fusion of Arabian and global flavours, Obaid will o er guests a taste of Emirati cuisine through signature menus and the chance for an exclusive beachside dinner.

10 Cathay returns last aircra from COVID storage

Cathay Pacific is celebrating the completion of its time at the Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage maintenance facility in Australia. The last aircraft to leave, an airbus A330-300, was the first of 76 to enter the facility on 28 July 2020, after the pandemic grounded most of its passenger fleet.

What if you could make every day feel like a holiday?

At Amali Island – a holistic hideaway that is on a mission to create ultra-luxury homes that feel like the ultimate serene sanctuary – vacation-worthy waterfront living becomes a reality


Aparadigm shift has occurred in what it means to live well. As people increasingly understand that it means to feel at once psychologically, physically, and socially healthy, luxury and well-being now go hand in hand. It’s about enjoying a lifestyle full of experiences that allow you to feel absolute comfort, while discovering new pleasures and enjoying a sense of intimacy in an intelligently-designed space – and there will be no better place to do this than Amali Island.

The ultra-luxury development, set across two separate islands that are engineered to work together to create a harmonious whole, is an exclusive sanctuary found on Dubai’s iconic World Islands. Spanning over 1,200,000 sq ft, it comprises a mix of 24 five-, six- and seven-bedroom villas that all offer stunning 360-degree views of the sea, the Dubai skyline, and the Palm Jumeirah. Each one boasts a serene 50m private beachfront with a private berth, alongside community amenities including a top-notch fitness centre, cutting-edge spa,

members-only clubhouse, stellar restaurant, and access to a dedicated helipad exclusively for residents. At these distinctively designed sun-kissed homes, where life goes beyond the ordinary to redefine the concept of luxury living, life can feel like a perpetual vacation.

Part of the prestigious World Islands archipelago, Amali Island has been said to be single-handedly reviving the iconic destination after various other developers tried to accomplish their own ground-breaking operation.

But no others have succeeded in achieving what Amali’s founders, Ali and Amira Sajwani, have managed to do. The dream team brother-sister duo are the children of Hussain Sajwani,

ABOVE: An aerial view of Amali Island, with the Dubai skyline just a five- to sevenminute journey away

BELOW: An outdoor lifestyle view at a luxurious property on Amali Island

the founder of DAMAC and one of the region’s most legendary figures in the real estate business. Both were mentored by their father, and with this exceptional knowledge and experience in the family business, they officially launched their own boutique ultra-luxury property development firm, Amali Properties. Their goal? To disrupt the real estate market with jaw-dropping projects that redefine the meaning of luxuury.

Amali Island is the first project to be launched by Amali Properties, and it exemplifes everything the brand stands for: truly innovative vision in a high-end package that seamlessly blends sophistication and simplicity, bespoke opulence, clever design that creates an idyllic environment, and breathtaking natural beauty. The Sajwani siblings are on a mission to craft a truly unique living experience, and in the case of Amali Island, that’s a property that allows residents to feel like they are on a restorative vacation every single day of their lives.

The very definition of an exclusive island sanctuary, the development is situated in the beautiful waters of the Arabian Gulf, just a five- to sevenminute journey from the vibrant city of

Dubai. The “sail-in, sail-out” villas can be accessed by sea or air, with private berths in which to dock any seafaring transport, and a floating helipad.

Designed by ELASTIC – a global award-winning firm of architects that specialises in high-end hospitality and immersive experiences – along with the equally-renowned hospitality design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates, and landscaping company SquareM, they are located on land that spreads over two of The World Islands: Uruguay and São Paolo.

The homes are characterised by four distinct typologies: Avataea, Aria, Aurora, and Amorino, with pricing ranging from Dhs50 million to Dhs250 million. Available on payment plans of 60/40 with a starting price of just upwards from US$13,610,000, they are expected to be ready for handover by Q1 2027. Villa Avatea and Villa Aria each offer seven bedrooms and a stunning view of the Dubai skyline. Villa Aurora has six bedrooms and a Dubai skyline view, while Villa Amorino boasts five bedrooms and an extraordinary view

of the Palm Jumeirah and Burj Al Arab. All of the villa types apart from Avatea come in two architectural styles: Minima and Grande. Each one features an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, dual staircase, in-house waterfall, and a range of pleasure-focused amenities including oudoor fire pits, rooftop terraces, inroom spa baths, and even teppanyaki bars. At the community clubhouse – which will be exclusive to members – the unrivalled “island living ” can be further enjoyed through a swim-up bar, saltwater pools, a spa, a yoga deck, cutting-edge fitness facilities, a floating padel court, a cigar bar, multiple fine-dining restaurants and attractive cafés, a children’s play area, and more.

ABOVE: An example of a basement view pool at an exclusive Amali Island property

TOP RIGHT: View of a Type C Grand DollHouse villa on Amali Island

BOTTOM: The Clubhouse Entrance at Amali Island

For families, although Amali Island does not have any schools nearby yet, residents won’t have any issues being connected to the mainland. Once on the mainland just a hop and a skip away, access to the Palm Jumeirah takes only five minutes, while trips to Dubai International Financial Centre and Downtown Dubai would only take nine and 10 minutes respectively. It’s also only 18 minutes away from Dubai International Airport, and 20 minutes away from the Jetex Private Terminal –and it’ll be just five minutes away from the MGM-Vegas inspired island that is scheduled to open in 2028.

It’s the perfect balance of having

the world at your fingertips, while also being able to find bliss through the tranquility of seclusion from the hustle and bustle of city life. With a life on Amali Island, one would easily be able to enjoy a fulfilling, productive, and busy day in town before retreating to their own private sanctuary, unmarred by the loud noises, teeming crowds, or stressful demands of common urban life.

This paradisical harmony was, of course, created by design: it was conceptualised around the idea of the Ombu tree – an evergreen shrub-like natural beauty that is native to South America, and pays homage to the World Islands countries that Amali Island is built upon. The tree, which is a majestic natural wonder, has long been associated with wisdom and sanctuary, with indigenous legends from its local heritage surrounding the tree’s ability to provide safe and peaceful shelter – and in return, being shared the gift of immortality. It’s a beautiful tale, and a fitting one for the architectural vision created just for Amali Island around this very purpose. Despite the fact that it is situated on a man-made island, this project is one that weaves a reverence for the natural landscape into its entire philosophy. And like the Ombu tree, Amali aims to create a natureinfused refuge that offers not just shelter, but a safe haven where joy and tranquility need know no bounds.

Much like the best type of vacation – where the pace of life leaves you not only filled with wonder and adventure but equally restored, able to relax in peace, and feeling truly nurtured in multiple ways – Amali Island is the sort of place that reminds us, without a shadow of a doubt, that in the current day, luxury is synonymous with harmony: and with a home life this blissful, you may never want to leave.


Amali Island is a truly groundbreaking project. What was the inspiration behind your vision?

Ali Sajwani: Amali is derived from the Arabic word ‘Amal’, which means ‘hopes and dreams.’ This is the inspiration and vision of the brand. We wanted to create a super-exclusive, ultra-luxury product using the best architects and interior designers in the world to bring the hopes and dreams of our clients to life.

Amira Sajwani: My brother and I always wanted to create a unique real estate brand to build our own legacy. The story of Amali started when we were at our favourite place by the beach in Jumeirah, planning our trip to the Maldives. We thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could bring the same experience to Dubai? Then we saw The World Islands and got on a boat a week later to check them out. We realised this was the perfect concept in the perfect place. This is the story behind Amali.

What were the greatest challenges in developing such a unique project?

Ali Sajwani: One of the islands (São Paulo) was owned by someone based in India – he purchased and owned the land through a British Virgin Islands company whose registration had expired nearly 10 years ago, creating acquisition challenges. In addition, it took us 10 months to acquire those islands for our project, because we were very selective and

wanted the perfect islands with stunning views of the Dubai skyline, Palm Jumeirah, and Burj Al Arab.

Amira Sajwani: It’s no secret that The World Islands has its challenges, such as the delay in developing them due to the 2008 market crash. However, we sold 22 of the 24 beachfront mansions on the first day of our launch, the project’s value is US$544.5 million, and the remaining villas have price tags upwards of US$13.6 million This proves that our project is unique, the demand is strong, and our clients believe in us. We have full confidence that we will deliver the most significant project.

We wanted to create a super-exclusive, ultra-luxury product using the best architects and interior designers in the world

Privacy and exclusivity are a large part of the appeal at Amali Island. Why is this so important?

Ali Sajwani: In today’s market, privacy and exclusivity are essential elements in every project, but not many offer that.

The concept we have built is unique, and our product makes every client feel like they’re on their own island. For example, every residence has its own up-to-50m private beachfront with a private berth for your boat. There is no other project in Dubai that offers this today.

Amira Sajwani: I believe there are two angles to this question. The first is from an investment perspective: privacy and exclusivity tend to significantly raise the value of a property over time. They are seen as desirable and unique assets in the real estate market, attracting potential buyers and investors. The second angle is that privacy provides residents with a sense of personal space and freedom within their homes and surroundings. It allows them to enjoy their lifestyle without intrusion or disturbance.

Amali Island has wellness-enabling features built into every aspect. Why is this fundamental for a good life?

Ali Sajwani: Dubai today is a global metropolitan city; it’s truly the city

that never sleeps. We are blessed to be living in it, but it comes with a certain level of stress. This is why we’ve created amenities and features that make every day feel like a holiday, helping you de-stress and disconnect when you go back home. With hard work and success comes a lot of effort and stress, and you need to give yourself a break at times to create a good balance.

Amira Sajwani: I always get asked how I manage to fulfil my roles at DAMAC, PRYPCO, and Amali. My answer is that during the weekends, I make sure to spend my own personal time with my two kids and my husband to recharge and switch off because I believe it’s essential. We understand the value of well-being, and that’s why we have included many wellness-enabling features that exceed our clients’ expectations.

This development has so many truly unique amenities. Do you have any personal favourites among them?

Ali Sajwani: My personal favourites are the private berths and the floating helipad, and that is because this makes you have a certain exquisite lifestyle. Imagine your everyday transportation is your own boat and a helicopter? It’s also because it gives you private and quick access in and out of the island. In addition, we’re building an exquisite community clubhouse that will push the boundaries of luxury.

TOP: An over-head view of a Type A Dollhouse Villa at Amali Island
TOP RIGHT: Ali Sajwani, cofounder and CEO, Amali Properties
ALI SAJWANI, co-founder and CEO of Amali Properties

Amira Sajwani: This is the most difficult question in this interview because we have designed every amenity with such sophistication and opulence to exceed our clients’ expectations. From the indoor and outdoor swimming pools, in-house waterfall, and floating padel court to the outdoor fire pits, the choices are limitless. But if you ask me, my personal favourite is the community clubhouse!

When you travel abroad, what are your favourite destinations?

Ali Sajwani: Every year, I travel to beautiful destinations like the Maldives and Bora Bora because I love extreme sports such as diving with sharks. Over the years, I ’ve stayed at the best hotels and resorts, gathering information on how they create worldclass experiences for their clients. My personal holidays and the insights I ’ ve

gathered have played an essential role in shaping the unique amenities and features of Amali Island.

Amira Sajwani: My personal favourite destinations are France and Monaco, and I visit them both almost every year. We go to Paris because the kids love Disneyland, and I can’t say no to my two beautiful girls. As for Monaco, it’s my husband’s and my own personal favourite destination, and we thoroughly enjoy it.

This is a project that redefines luxury. What does luxury mean to you?

Ali Sajwani: A house by the beach, swimming shorts, stress-free. Luxury is a state of mind. Our family legacy has always been known [for] building the most luxurious developments with the best quality and finishes. However, that doesn’t necessarily make you happy; there are people who live in palaces and are not happy. Amira Sajwani: This is a good question because luxury to me is having a healthy, happy family, and that is a blessing that I truly thank God for.

BELOW: A Ground Floor Entrance view at Amali Island

BOTTOM: A Ground Floor Dining Room view at Amali Island

Who do you envision as Amali Island’s perfect clientele?

Ali Sajwani: Amali Island’s perfect clientele would be anyone seeking luxury and exclusivity. This includes high-net-worth individuals, celebrities, and influential business leaders who value privacy, bespoke experiences, and unparalleled service. These clients appreciate the finer things in life and are looking for a unique, secluded destination that offers both opulence and personalised attention.

Our project is unique, the demand is strong, and our clients believe in us. We have full confidence that we will deliver the most significant project.

Amira Sajwani: We have a great diversity in our clientele in terms of background, nationality, and requirements. Our buyers come from Europe, East and South Asia, and various Arab countries. Some plan to make Amali Island their full-time home, while others see the value in investing for capital appreciation. Additionally, many are looking to make it their holiday home. It’s amazing to see how our product attracts such a diverse range of nationalities and meets their different requirements.

After Amali Island, what’s next?

Ali Sajwani: The concept of Amali is to create an unparalleled ultra-luxury project aimed at a niche clientele, ensuring they receive the lifestyle of their dreams. Our priority and focus and are now dedicated to the completion of Amali Island, which we anticipate delivering by 2027. Over the next 18 months, we will be dedicating our resources and attention towards the completion of Amali Island.

Amira Sajwani: We remain committed to developing Amali Island while actively exploring the vast opportunities in the Dubai real estate market. It took us 10 months to choose the perfect location for our first project, so we will strategically study and plan the future of our brand to come up with something even more innovative and unique.

LEFT: Amira Sajwani, co-founder, Amali Properties
AMIRA SAJWANI, co-founder of Amali Properties

As interest and investment in health-focused holidays continues to develop across the globe, we explore the evolving face of well-being travel and its business potential

In 2024, the global wellness industry is worth some seriously big bucks. Its value has been steadily rising over the past ve years. In 2019, it was valued at US$4.9 trillion – and although the widespread economic e ects of the COVID-19 pandemic saw this drop to $4.5 trillion, by 2022 it was back and stronger than ever before, at US$5.6 trillion. is gure is expected to grow at a rate of around 12 per cent per year, reaching an estimated US$8.47 trillion by 2027.

According to a report published alongside the 2023 Global Wellness Economy Monitor from the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), the largest wellness markets across the world include the USA, China, Germany, Japan, and the UK. e Middle East and North Africa (MENA), too, have done well in this arena – the region already ranked rst in terms of spa revenue growth as far back as seven

to nine years ago, with a 30 per cent year-on-year expansion, and with the wellness real estate and workplace wellness markets also experiencing healthy growth. According to the GWI’s Global Wellness Economy: Country Rankings, the MENA region was also a leader among those that have “shown the strongest resilience, recovery, and growth in their wellness economies since before the start of the pandemic”, with its recent growth reported at 119 per cent. e projected annual growth rate for the MENA region’s wellness market is currently higher than the world average – at 14.7 per cent, estimated at more than US$108 billion.

is year, McKinsey’s annual Future of Wellness survey examined the trends shaping the consumer wellness landscape, with a view towards discovering the areas that are “especially ripe for innovation and investment activity”. Among its ndings, Gen Z and millennials were

found to be more keen to purchase wellness-related products and services than older generations. While this speaks to a relatively large age range – roughly 12 to 27 years old, and 28 to 42 years old, respectively – when you consider that millennials are now entering their prime spending years, and Gen Z’s spending power continues to grow ( it’s even touted as being the highest spending power among generational groups), it’s a trend too important to ignore.

Perhaps even more powerful is the fact that in the current day, an increasing number of consumers are aware of, and interested in, the fact that true wellness encompasses more than just hitting the gym and eating more salads. Rather, it is, at its best, a 360-degree approach to one’s wellbeing – wherein an optimal state of existence can be achieved by exploring the most holistic, feel-good-inducing , and sustainable approach towards our physical, mental, and emotional health.

Destination: Wellness


As a result, wellness offerings have seeped into every market you could possibly imagine, through elements of fitness, nutrition, weight management, sleep, breathwork, and other forms of rest and recovery. You’ll see aspects of it in corporate life (such as through various “wellness at work” schemes), real estate, hospitality, travel and tourism, appearance-related services, and plenty more. Simply put, whether you’re looking at a lifestyle brand, or a trade name that’s trying to centre its branding around the lifestyle affiliated with those who purchase its offerings, it’s almost impossible to escape.

And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Key factors that consumers are looking for in these products and services include their efficacy and scientific credibility, with technologyassisted devices (including wearables, biohacking tools, and other wellnessfocused gadgets), premium offerings that promote healthy ageing and greater longevity, in-person fitness and related well-being activities, and sleep being among the most highly sought-after trends – all of which are being cleverly incorporated into various parts of the travel industry.

Want meditation content on flights? Airlines including Emirates, British Airways, JetBlue, United Airlines, Qatar Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Delta Air Lines all offer some form of it to promote a more relaxing and mindful in-flight experience. Seeking wellness-focused hotel rooms themed around everything from fitness to sleep? They exist everywhere from New York and Los Angeles to London, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and across Europe. In fact, many properties have expanded their existing services by offering dedicated wellness retreats, and a range of properties have opened up that have literally been designed and conceptualised with wellness in mind.

One such property is Clinic Les Alpes. Known as the world’s best luxury rehab centre and mental health clinic, places like this are redefining the concept of what it means to travel for wellness. Now, heading somewhere for rehab or to deal with our mental health doesn’t need to be perceived as shameful as it might once have been in the past. When it’s in a stunning, bespoke (and medically-licensed) five-star facility in the French Alps, it can actually be seen as more of a badge of honour for some,

where booking in a visit signifies the courage and commitment to put one’s self-care first, and “be our best self”.

“Health is not merely the absence of disease, but a complex interplay of various factors that can deeply impact our quality of life. To be ‘well’ and to be ‘free of illness’ are not strictly the same thing, which thereby necessitates an ongoing awareness and maintenance of well-being in every individual. This is not only beneficial for the individual in terms of maintaining emotional resilience, managing performance or productivity, and preventing many lifestyle diseases Active care of the self ripples out to have wider impacts on our communities. We have the power to contribute to reduction of stigma, community health,

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Clinic Les Alpes is a luxury rehabilitation and wellness centre in the French Alps; A swimming pool at Clinic Les Alpes; A calming room at Clinic Les Alpes
OPPOSITE PAGE: A young woman relaxes in an outdoor infinity swimming pool


Anantara The Palm

The overwater villas will already give you a deep sense of tranquility, but that’s not all: the Anantara Spa at this Dubai property also has a jaw-dropping list of treatments, from a holistic cocoon room and Ayurveda room to both Turkish and Moroccan hammam facilities, a crystal and gemstone steam room, magnesium and marine wellness treatments, and relaxing CBD-infused body rituals.

can enjoy a full range of luxury spa treatments, in indoor or outdoor cabins. If you prefer to take your workouts beyond their cutting-edge gym, you can snorkel around the reef and the Ayqah Pinnacles, dive the Umlujj wreck, or try a large range of eco-safe watersports, from sailing and kayaking to eboarding, wingfoiling, and more.

Our Habitas AlUla

Marriott Resort Palm Jumeirah Dubai

If you’re looking for a sea-view stay where you can get fit on-the -go, look no further: this property’s expansive fitness centre offers personal training, group classes, and access to their FitnessOnDemand app. Outdoors, its 7,000 sqm of private beachfront is the perfect place for a saltwater swim or an abundance of watersports, while those needing to unwind can enjoy a comprehensive “Spa-Cation” package from its Saray Spa.

The St. Regis Riyadh

Located in the diplomatic quarter of Saudi Arabia’s capital, this property has the largest spa in Riyadh. Soothe your weary body in their thermal facilities, including a lush traditional sauna and herbal steam room, or indulge in an Ayurvedic treatment followed by a therapy bath or foot bath. If you’re after exercise , fitness counselling services are available, as are beauty treatments, from lip treatments to mani-pedis and more.

The St. Regis Red Sea Resort

This exquisite resort is located on a pristine private island in the Ummahat archipelago – and it is also home to the largest spa in Saudi Arabia. The resort can be accessed by seaplane or speedboat, and once there, you

From sunrise yoga sessions to physiotherapy from the in-house expert, or the chance to go horseriding, hiking, or biking around the nearby valley, this entire resort is an

ode to well-being. Want more? They also offer breathwork, acupuncture, and ice bathing. One of their must-try experiences is a sound healing session, where meditative acoustic vibrations uplift your energy with deep healing.

Six Senses Kaplankaya

This luxury resort near Bodrum, Türkiye, is created for a fully-immersive wellness experience. The flagship spa boasts expert-led picks you won’t find anywhere else, including an Alchemy bar, unique hydrothermal areas, a Watsu pool, stunning hammams, a meditation cave, beauty salon, biohacking, wellness screenings, a “sleep upgrade” and more, all available with personalised programmes led by reputed experts and in-house plus visiting practitioners. Its state-of-the-art fitness and sports facilities include a cardio studio, weight

and movement room, pilates studio, yoga studio, cycling studio, squash court, TRX area, and waterfront yoga and meditation pavilion.

Banyan Tree AlUla

Banyan Tree resorts are known for their dedication to wellness, and this property in AlUla’s Ashar Valley is no different. Here, you can refresh yourself in its unique Rock Pool in the mountains, after a serene treatment (or a few) in their award-winning spa. To truly immerse yourself in the destination, you can opt for one of their “in-valley” treatments, such as an outdoor massage.

Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som

This luxury full-immersion wellness resort in Qatar is Chiva-Som’s first in the Middle East. It blends traditional Arabic and Islamic medicine with a modern holistic health and well-being philosophy. It’s split into one adultsonly and one family-friendly section, where the former is all about tranquil serenity, and the latter invites families to connect while embarking on a wellness journey together.

Zoya Health and Wellbeing Resort

This stunning resort in Ajman offers a range of mindfulness activities, along with fitness options such as personal training and aqua gym, energy-boosters such as oxygen therapy, and outdoor pursuits such as green bike trails, or the chance to kayak through its lush and majestic mangroves.

Sofitel Dubai Downtown

This elegant French hotel has an awardwinning spa, with eight treatment rooms (including a couple's room), a sauna and steam room, and stunning hammam –the ideal spot for an indulgent spacation.

and positive social relationships,” says Brittany Hunt, Clinic les Alpes’ Head of Quality, Innovation, and Research Department.

“In my opinion, today, in our fastlane, post-postmodern, cybercultural world, we are forgetting our health in general; health that is defined by the World Health Organization as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. The vertiginous advance of technology has induced in humanity a mind-body disarticulation for the average person because of the disappearance of the need to make a physical effort to survive – or at least have the basic elements in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid. The resulting sedentarism and paradoxical social isolation and anxiety stemming from social media is what has separated us from each other as well as from ourselves. Being aware of this impact, – for example, by simply lowering your screen time and going to the gym, from as early an age as possible – can better the quality of one’s life, especially when the passage of time makes recuperation capacities and resilience less performant,” explains Dr. Randolph Willis, Clinic Les Alpes’ Medical Director and Psychiatrist.

Hunt believes that the global cultural shift towards more experiential travel – another trend that has been linked to the tastes of millennials and Gen Z’s spending preferences – has been one significant factor. “As individuals have been generally struggling to fight back against over-consumerism, there has been a shift in expectations for tourism to represent meaningful experiences, as opposed to traditional sight-seeing or souvenir accumulation. This has prompted the tourism industry to diversify offerings to include wellness elements as a core part of the travel experience, creating travel experiences that have long term positive impacts on an individual that go further than photos can capture,” she says.

This trend, combined with the evergrowing inclination for personalisation and more bespoke experiences – not to mention the growing desire for more nature-aligned and environmentally-

friendly experiences – can lead to some very lucrative opportunities for companies in the hospitality and travel industries that are willing to cater to these needs. However, it is important that such offerings are carried out with authenticity and genuine care. This is not simply because consumers are looking for those well-researched and science-backed options that will send them home with real and tangible results, but also because it is more ethically-sound – an extremely important factor when working with people’s health, in any capacity.

“It is not simply enough to reduce symptoms in a person’s life, or even to reduce their suffering, but [rather, we must] give them the skills, knowledge, and confidence to make healthpromoting choices in all domains of their life,” Hunt says, explaining that her approach champions empowering people in their mental, physical, social, and spiritual health. She is not only focusing on a ‘cure’, but a way to help guests maximise their mental health and overall quality of life. Dr. Willis agrees, adding that the goal should be “helping people find direction in life to a healthier and more spiritually deep internal and interpersonal way of existing.”

Whether it is mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual health that is being explored, as the wellness tourism industry is poised to boom dramatically in the coming years – and it appears to be here to stay – it is imperative that the hospitality and wider travel industry shoulders the responsibility with as much integrity as possible. By consulting with or employing qualified experts, teaming up with genuine specialists in various fields, and keeping the customer’s long-term as well as short-term gains in mind, creating offerings for every level of wellness tourism – from the curious novice to the die-hard well-being enthusiast – could not only attract consumers that are willing to spend top dollar on travelling with the goal of going home feeling better, it could keep them frequently coming back for more. To do so, however, it is important to keep on top of the science, with programmes that are ready to adapt with the latest research findings, focusing on those with trusted and tested results, and with an authentic win-win attitude in mind for the provider and guest alike. After all, as Dr. Willis puts it, “We’re only here to learn, to better ourselves mentally and physically and to share this experience with everyone else.”


In 1943, American

came up with a theory that humans must fulfil a list of innate needs organised in hierarchical priority, in order to experience true well-being. From the bottom up, these include the physiological as a base (food, air, water, etc), safety, love and belonging, esteem, and one's self-actualisation.

ABOVE: Clinic Les Alpes offers private treatment in a historic alpine chateau located above Montreux, in the Swiss Alps
psychologist Abraham Maslow

Global Ambitions

H World International is on a quest to breathe new life into a solid portfolio of hotels, while taking more of its brands to new pastures. We caught up with the company’s CEO, Oliver Bonke , to learn more

When choosing a hotel, modern travellers are seeking lifestyle affiliation, identity, and a sense of belonging with their chosen brand, whether it's the budgetfriendly or the ultra-luxurious. One emerging company to watch is H World International, formerly known as Deutsche Hospitality. A European hotel company with German roots, Deutsche Hospitality rebranded to H World International in February this year, as part of its effort to drive the expansion of its ownership group, H World – also known as Huazhu Hotels Group – outside of China.

As of the first half of 2024, H World International’s portfolio encompasses more than 100 hotels, with brands including Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts, Steigenberger Icons, Steigenberger Porsche Design Hotels, House of Beats, Jaz in the City, MAXX, IntercityHotel, Zleep Hotels, and Ji Hotel. Its properties can be found in Germany, China, the UAE, Oman, Singapore, Denmark, Austria, and beyond – and the company is planning a global expansion in the coming years, with plans to widen its scope across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. We caught up with Oliver Bonke – the former CEO of Deutsche Hospitality and now-CEO of H World International – to learn more.

Please tell us about the recent developments.

H World is a Nasdaqlisted, publicly-traded company. We’re somewhere in the top five hotel companies in the world, with a market cap of around US$1113 billion. It is a unique constellation in that just before the pre-COVID era, H World bought Deutsche Hospitality to create a second growth trajectory beyond China internationally. Part of that strategy involved seeing how we could use the strong presence we have in China, with over 9,000 hotels and over 200 million members in our loyalty programme, for when they want to travel overseas. There wasn’t a choice offered to them before. So with the acquisition of Deutsche Hospitality, that was the intention. Then [the pandemic] came, and we all had to figure out how to survive that. Now that we’re finally past that, we felt this is the right time to make it clear where we’re going.

non-China. Now, we’re looking at figuring out the right locations where we can leverage the Chinese outbound market, and combining that with our strong presence in the German market.

H World is our holding company, we’ve got our headquarters in Singapore, and we have two business units under that: one for China, and one for the rest of the world. H World International covers everything

Bilateral travel between China and Germany, and the Middle East, is growing. Is this a consideration in your strategy? Yes, absolutely. Recent figures show that there were about a million travellers coming from Germany to the UAE, and figures for China are quite similar – so that plays to our strengths. We may not be the strongest in the US market, but we are very strong in these two feeder markets, and that is our unique proposition. Both China and Germany are countries with very strong foreign direct investment strategies, as well as outbound tourism, and you very quickly come up with geographies where those things overlap. The Middle East is certainly one of them.

What are your key areas of focus across the different parts of the Middle East? In the region, everything tends to start with Dubai. It is one of the world capitals for [tourism], so a presence in Dubai is strategically important for us. We’re focusing on opening our Steigenberger flagship hotel in Dubai – there's nothing to announce on that front yet, but we are very aggressively pursuing that. That’s the pebble in the lake, so to speak – from there, a lot of other ripples will flow. In Ras Al Khaimah, the gaming space that’s rising there will create a

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: IntercityHotel Bawshar Muscat; Oliver Bonke; IntercityHotel Riyadh Malaz; IntercityHotel Salalah

whole new dimension for purpose of travel to the UAE, so we are very excited about that opportunity. We’ve got two hotels there, and we’re looking for some good long-term partnerships. We have four hotels in Oman – personally, I’m a fan of the country. You can really feel the history of the Arabian peninsula there, in a very authentic way. There’s also the nature – you’ll find some of the most pristine waters in the world there. It’s a very unique tourist destination that’s also emerging as a key business centre. Then there’s Qatar and Abu Dhabi – they’ve done fantastic investments into the arts with museums and other venues that will add a lot more texture for travellers. There are a lot of opportunities stemming in these places in terms of both tourism and business.

How do you identify which brands you want to bring over first?

As part of our broader strategy as H World International, our responsibility is to bring our European brands to China. So we’re developing Steigenberger and IntercityHotel in China. It will help people there familiarise themselves with our European brands. At the same time, we’re bringing the European brands into other parts of the world, and we have been selective about bringing a Chinese brand to the rest of the world. This creates the fabric of us bringing international brands to China, bringing Chinese brands outbound, and bringing international brands to the rest of the world.

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Banquets Al Shahba Ballroom at IntercityHotel

Nizwa; Business

Sea View Suite at IntercityHotel

Bawshar Muscat; IntercityHotel Dubai

Jaddaf Waterfront



How are you approaching the needs of the outbound Chinese traveller?

With our strategy, we’re able to address the Chinese traveller in the territory they know. They can experience one of our European brands in China, and seek it out as they travel outbound, with the Steigenberger in particular. We’re also recrafting and analysing taking one of our Chinese brands, Ji Hotels, to be a familiar place for Chinese travellers to stay as they go outbound, while also making it a beautiful, elegant, refined, and founded-in-China brand that is appealing for international travellers. Here's one example: people of every culture could have the same food for breakfast every day. Certain food items can bring us comfort on the road – and a Chinese breakfast has a specific programming to it that might not make sense for many Westerners, but will to the Chinese guest. So breakfast is a key focus for us with the Ji Hotels brand – to make sure there’s a high level of recognition and comfort there.

Secondly, we look at the simple programming of what you’re looking for in a room, whether that’s slippers, or a clear commitment to tea. That sounds cliché, but it’s not – it is fundamentally true for this set of travellers. The Ji Hotels have a beautifully-designed tea bar in the lobby, which is authentic and respectful to what a Chinese traveller would be expecting while away from home. We are looking for elements that are true to this core expectation, without making the experience in the hotel fully Chinese, since they are still going to another part of the world after all.

How will you incorporate this attention to detail to Steigenberger’s return to the UAE? With the Steigenberger, I see my job as a temporary custodian of something with immense historical presence. This brand has been here long before me, and it will be here way after me. It has hundreds of years of presence in Germany, and we’re now about to re-open the Steigenberger in BadenBaden. It was the first Steigenberger in the world, in one of the most beautiful heritage leisure destinations, in the middle of the Black Forest. The extensive renovation was done with immense respect to the heritage of the brand. We wanted to make sure it honours everything the brand stands for. It’s a family brand, founded by a person with very clear views as to what hospitality should be and how it should evolve. It was never meant to stay stagnant. To compete around consumer mindset, we focus on things that others can’t copy. This brand’s roots are German, so we looked at the culinary offerings to build on what’s unique and exciting about German cuisine. The diversity and quality of baked goods in Germany is, in my mind, unprecedented. So how can we bring that to the world? By helping people experience German baked goods authentically, because we are German. We’re also now developing a Steigenberger beer. We have the authority to develop a unique beer that we can take out to the world, with the right quality and served in the right glass. In Germany, if you serve a beer in the wrong glass, people won’t drink it! We honour that authentic cultural art of serving beer, and curating that for our brand. Finally, we’re working with a culinary specialist in Germany that’s developing a series of signature dishes that can help us take another taste of Germany out into the world.

People, Purpose, Process

With a recently-expanded role that sees him heading up operations for the South East Asia Pacific region on top of his existing role as COO for the Middle East and North Africa region, Radisson Hotel Group ’s Tim Cordon is ready to take his people-first approach to leadership across the map

When a great organisation begins a major new path of growth, it’s usually down to having a great leader at its helm. And this is absolutely the case for the Radisson Hotel Group, where in January this year, Tim Cordon –COO for the company’s Middle East and Africa (MEA) region saw his role expanded to take on the title of COO for their South East Asia Pacific (SEAP) region as well.

Expanding Cordon’s role was a natural and significant move, intended to leverage internal talent to drive growth in Radisson’s fastestgrowing markets. The new appointment allows the SEAP region to benefit from Cordon’s leadership, which has already fostered immense success in the MEA region.

The company has a central office in Madrid, focused on their properties in Europe; an administrative headquarters in Brussels; and a big office in Dubai. "I suppose if you look at that geographical organisation, and you were to say, ‘Which is the best-suited to support our hotels and our growth strategy in South East Asia Pacific – is it the office in Madrid or the office in Dubai?’, the answer is fairly straightforward,” Cordon says.

“I think on top of that, we’ve had some modest success in the Middle East and Africa. We’ve managed to grow the brand fairly well. Replicating a lot of what we do here – the tactics, the support we give to the

hotels, and the way we’ve been able to grow the business – into South East Asia has also been part of the plan. So integrating my role into the Singapore office, and taking the business into that part of the world made a lot of sense really,” he adds. “I’m excited about it. It’s a lot of air miles! It’s been fun so far.”

In the last three years, Radisson has opened more than 45 hotels in the Middle East and Africa region, and at least 160 more are underway. The company has major plans for APAC expansion, with a bold goal of 400 per cent growth by 2025. It hopes to achieve this by adding 1,700 hotels and resorts to its current portfolio of over 400 properties,

ABOVE: Tim Cordon

RIGHT: Nofa Riyadh, A Radisson Collection Resort

BELOW: Radisson

Hotel Dubai


harnessing the vast potential of China and focusing on five more key growth markets: India, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, and New Zealand. Indeed, during the last several years, the relationship between the Middle East and the Far East has been strengthened, and clever hotel brands are aligning their growth plans accordingly.

Cordon explains that there was some internal reorganisation with the company's shareholders in China, which freed up the opportunity for him and his team to support Singapore. Radisson is owned by a Chinese company – its majority shareholder is Jin Jiang International, which, according to the 2023 Hotel World Ranking by MKG Consulting, is the secondlargest hotel conglomerate worldwide in terms of the number of rooms and hotels.

Cordon notes that the growing links between the Middle East and East Asia are a major opportunity not to be overlooked. “Really, if you look at the tourism business over the next ten years, and where the growth in travellers is coming from, I don’t think you need to look West. I mean, those markets are very developed. Europe and the United States are always going to be important feeder markets for our businesses in the Middle East, Africa, and the Far East, but if you look at that expansion, and the exploding middle class in China, [its importance is undeniable]. We’ve got to talk about India as well, with the incredible growth we’re seeing there, and this explosion of the middle class there as well. The work that’s being done in India is just mind-blowing, really. Those markets are primed to explode into the rest of the world, including ours. You also have markets with

dense Muslim populations, such as Indonesia for example, where we can say that’s an important source market for religious tourism. Those markets are very important to us for a number of different reasons,” he says.

Religious tourism is another major part of Radisson’s growth strategy. The brand has already begun intensifying its efforts to expand in Saudi Arabia, with a focus on the holy cities, within the next five years. Radisson currently operates more than 26 properties in the kingdom (including hotels, resorts, and serviced apartments), and 18 more are currently under development. It hopes to double its footprint by 2030, aiming for a total of 100 hotels within the next six years across Riyadh and Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah, and other key locations.

“Saudi is a very important market for everybody. I want to talk about Radisson of course, but I think it’s fair to say that the current hotel development in Saudi Arabia is probably a once-in-a-generation opportunity for everybody. And the things that are being done in Saudi Arabia now are going to change the country forever, I imagine. So it’s quite exciting to be part of that.

“[Radisson] has had a long history in Saudi Arabia. We understand the market very well, we’ve been there for many many years, so the natural progression for us is to expand organically. And not just anywhere, but in positions of activity. We haven’t really done any purchasing activity – what we’ve done is expand through our network, predominantly through management agreements across the kingdom, to the point that we now have about 50 hotels already in operation or in development. We’ve been in Makkah for nearly eight or nine years. So growing in the holy cities is not a new business model for us,

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Radisson Hotel Riyadh Airport; Radisson Blu Hotel, Galleria Mall, Amman; Radisson Blu, Dubai Waterfront; Mansard Riyadh, A Radisson Collection Hotel; Radisson Resort

Ras Al Khaimah

but it’s a business model that excites us. Not just because historically it’s always been important, but the way that Makkah and now Madinah are changing along with Saudi, and becoming more open, means it’s becoming a much less seasonal market. This makes it a lot more sustainable for hotel operators and hotel investors in the long term. We’re beginning to take advantage of that as people realise that.”

In a fast-growing industry where people are increasingly spoilt for choice in their hotel options, it’s Cordon’s approach towards work that is inspiring the rest of his teams in a way that truly stands out: through a people-first approach, in every sense.

“I wish we had the perfect balance. My view is that we should forget about perfection, and strive for improvement. So if you’re doing something today, and then you try to do the same thing a little bit better tomorrow, and continue doing that every single day, then that, for me, is winning. Trying to go from where you are today, to saying ‘This is [what I consider] perfect, and this is where I want to be’, is difficult for people to understand [at first] – but it becomes easier to understand when you think of it as just trying to get better every day. That marginal gains business strategy is one that I fully buy into,” Cordon says.

“The [other] thing is to not lose sight of the fact that we’re a hospitality company. We do lots of things, but ultimately, we deliver services and experiences for customers. That’s what we do. If we aren’t delivering that within our own organisation, how can

we expect people to deliver it in our hotels? It’s a combination of trying to have some fun at work, definitely, and empowering people. The way we run our teams is to give the best people we possibly can the opportunity with the right tools to do the best job they can, and then to get out of their way. Don’t micromanage people and constantly tinker with what they’re doing. Just make the key decisions and move forward. With that approach, not only can you have a highly-motivated team, but you can also have a scalable team,” Cordon says. “Because if you get it right, people can take on additional responsibility at a faster rate, because their teams are also autonomous, or semi-autonomous. That bit of empowerment is part of the ‘secret’ of creating that working environment,” he adds.

Even though Radisson is a big company, when speaking to employees, you can’t help but get a sense of a small-company feel, in terms of how connected they all seem. “We’re very proud of the fact that we have some extremely high ratings from our employees on engagement and enablement –industry-leading, in fact,” Cordon says.

With Radisson having swept five wins at the Business Traveller Middle East Awards this year, clearly they’re doing something right. “The credit goes to the teams that actually do the work to deserve those awards and make these wins possible!” says Cordon.

When asked to sum up his leadership philosophy, his approach is clear and simple: “Take risks with people. And don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s all about the people. There’s a comment I use with my hotel general managers – I say, ‘Try not to be a general manager. Try and be a general leader.’ And by that, what I mean is, take 100 per cent of the responsibility, and zero per cent of the credit. So when something goes well, congratulate your team. It’s about them, not about you anymore. When you reach the top of the tree, and you’re the general manager in a hotel, you need to empower and make your teams feel great about the work they’re doing. And then we, the organisation, will give you credit. But don’t try and take credit from the people in your team.”

Re-living by change

Exploring the convergence of healthcare and hospitality

Imagine booking a vacation where you not only get to enjoy a luxurious hotel stay but also receive cuttingedge healthcare. That’s the future of medical tourism, a growing industry that blends luxury hospitality with top-notch medical care. It’s like combining two powerful forces to create something new and beneficial. One industry is tackling the harmful effects of market economics on health, while the other is embracing a lifestyle that values both mental and physical well-being. This new approach is set to become a major economic force, expected to grow from US$97.3 billion in 2023 to US$337 billion by 2028. This growth is driven by technology, investments, and innovative patient care, acknowledging that humanity is, after all, human.

Over the past 20 years, the Middle East has made huge strides in establishing itself as a top destination for medical tourists seeking quality care in luxurious settings. Thanks to strategic investments, cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi have transformed into healthcare hubs, offering a blend of worldclass treatments and luxury hospitality –attracting patients who might otherwise have sought care in Europe or the US.

Meanwhile, India has also emerged as a leader in medical tourism and offers a different appeal. It’s not far behind, with its ‘Heal in India’ campaign promoting traditional wellness practices and making it easier for international patients to seek treatments. Kerala, for instance, is set to be at the heart of this movement, attracting health-focused individuals from around the globe. Known for its rich tradition of holistic wellness practices, India attracts and caters to cost-conscious patients with

high-quality care at more affordable prices. It’s like getting the best of both worlds –modern medical technology and ancient traditional wellness practices.

Now, let’s talk sustainability and innovation. Modern medical tourism is not just about luxury and advanced treatments; it’s also about sustainability. Today’s consumers want more than just good service; they also demand ethical and eco-friendly practices. Healthcare facilities are stepping up, integrating green building standards, effective waste management, and ethical patient care into their operations. These aren’t just extras anymore – they are essential for responsible growth in the industry.

Technological advancements like telemedicine, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence are also playing a crucial role. These are enabling international patients to consult with specialists remotely, both at home or in treatment and recovery settings – which reduces common economic and logistical challenges. This allows providers to offer precise initial diagnoses, treatment plans, and continued care across multiple countries. Imagine consulting with a specialist halfway around the world from the comfort of your home or taking a virtual tour of the hospital where you’ll be treated?

Governments and international organisations are catching on too. The World Health Organization has established the Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in India to integrate traditional practices into mainstream health frameworks. This supports a broader acceptance of treatments like India’s Ayurveda, China’s Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and other traditional healing methods.

In the UAE, investments in world-class

facilities that combine conventional medical treatments with holistic wellness are creating a niche in medical tourism. For instance, UAE spa resorts are incorporating treatments like halotherapy and hydrotherapy, blending conventional medical treatments. As governments include these traditional practices in their healthcare strategies, the medical tourism industry is expanding to serve health-conscious individuals seeking comprehensive wellness solutions. With international standards like Joint Commission International ensuring high-quality care, and insurers starting to cover treatments abroad, a more formalised collaboration is forming among key players in the industry. This integrated approach honours cultural legacies, nurtures global healing traditions, and meets the growing demand for natural and preventive health solutions.

The fusion of healthcare and hospitality in medical tourism is an opportunity to revolutionise patient care. It’s not just about providing medical services but also offering holistic, culturally rich experiences that promote healing and well-being. This is the perfect time for cross-specialty collaboration, encouraging industry leaders to work together to create a sustainable, innovative, and patient-focused sector that aligns with the shifting needs of our global community. Let’s move beyond the limitations of the past towards a vision that ensures the strategic merging of healthcare and hospitality that will benefit patients and businesses alike, leading to a transformative global health landscape we can all appreciate for generations to come. This is why we are committed to advancing this field, prioritising every patient’s unique needs, and contributing to the overall health of our societies.

Harnessing the economic opportunities of deaf tourism

Accessible tourism isn’t just good for the world, it’s also good for business – and catering for the Deaf traveller’s needs can be a win-win situation

The global tourism industry is undergoing a notable shift in mindset, recognising the importance of accommodating a diverse range of travellers, including those who are Deaf. This change reflects a deeper understanding that accessibility and inclusivity are not just moral imperatives but also strategic advantages in today’s competitive landscape. According to the World Health Organization, there are over a billion People of Determination globally. Additionally, more than 1.5 billion people have some level of hearing impairment, with over 11 million facing severe hearing loss in certain areas. Understanding the needs of this demographic opens up huge opportunities for businesses and destinations. By making their services more accessible and inclusive, they not only meet moral obligations but also attract more customers. This approach can set them apart from their competitors and improve their bottom line.

The cost of overlooking Deaf tourism

Despite the evident potential, the tourism industry has been slow to fully embrace Deaf tourism, missing out on opportunities for growth and inclusivity. According to the European Network for Accessible Tourism, the global economy loses US$150 billion each year by not recognising the spending power and potential of accessible tourism. A shortage of sign language interpreters in many countries exacerbates the issue, highlighting the urgent need for action to ensure a more inclusive travel experience. Investments in accessible services, interpreter training, and inclusive solutions

can pave the way for businesses and destinations to attract diverse customers and drive their growth.

Additionally, investing in interpreter training programmes ensures a sufficient supply of qualified professionals to facilitate meaningful communication for Deaf travellers. For example, a popular tourist destination that neglects such investment may inadvertently create barriers for Deaf travellers, hindering their access to information, products, amenities, and services. This can reflect negatively on the brand’s reputation in an age where inclusivity is highlighted and applauded.

From preference to priority

Investing in infrastructure improvements focused on accessibility can yield significant benefits for destinations, especially in catering to Deaf tourists. While ensuring on-site sign language interpreters may present challenges, offering live interpreter services via smartphones proves to be a more feasible alternative. Additionally, a website that provides a user-friendly interface fully adapted for sign language can serve the 1.5 billion individuals globally who experience varying degrees of hearing impairment. This site can include sign language videos in various sign languages, enabling Deaf users from around the globe to access information with ease. Together, these digital solutions enhance accessibility and ensure that vital communication tools are readily available to those who need them.

Moreover, the demand for inclusive options is evident, with 70 per cent of travellers expressing a preference for inclusivity, even at a higher cost, according to an Expedia survey. Fostering an inclusive

tourism ecosystem, destinations can differentiate their offerings and attract travellers seeking authentic experiences, drive economic growth, and establish themselves as leaders in inclusive tourism.

Impact of prioritising accessibility

Businesses that prioritise the needs of hearing-impaired customers stand to gain significant financial rewards. By offering accessible services such as sign language interpretation, closed captioning, and accessible communication channels, businesses not only attract a loyal customer base but also set themselves apart in a competitive market. Moreover, addressing the needs of the hearing impaired demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity, bolstering the brand’s reputation. According to Deloitte, inclusive teams outperform their peers by up to 80 per cent in team-based assessments. This underscores the tangible benefits that businesses can derive from fostering inclusivity in their own workplaces and accommodating diverse customer needs, including those of the Deaf community.

As we look ahead, it’s crucial to acknowledge both the opportunities and challenges inherent in the Deaf tourism sector. Embracing accessibility in tourism not only fulfills moral obligations but also unlocks substantial economic benefits. While progress has been made, there remains a need for concerted efforts to ensure equal access and opportunity for Deaf travellers worldwide. From addressing communication barriers to enhancing cultural awareness and competency, collaboration among stakeholders is vital to creating a more inclusive and welcoming tourism experience for all.


Stress in the spotlight

Having a high-profile career is often a rewarding experience, but it can come with its own unique set of mental health challenges

The image of a CEO often elicits assumptions of power, influence, and unparalleled success. Whilst this may be somewhat accurate, behind the scenes there is often a hidden reality – the pervasive and at times overwhelming stress that comes from navigating volatile markets and complex organisational strategies, amongst many other challenges that can be faced by those in the C-suite.

A study by Deloitte found that 77 per cent of executives reported experiencing burnout at some point in their career, with 87 per cent of senior executives stating that they are experiencing higher levels of stress than five years ago. Given the current climate post-pandemic, these rising levels are not surprising. Personally, I have noticed I am seeing more corporate clients in my clinical practice than ever before. These stressors are not just a footnote in the story

of success, but are becoming a defining feature that shapes the narrative of leadership in the modern business landscape. Developing awareness of this sooner rather than later can help reduce the longer-term impact on mental health, personal and professional relationships, and general well-being.

At the heart of the matter lies the magnitude of the responsibilities for those at the helm of organisations. The stakes are high when you are responsible for making critical decisions that have far-reaching consequences for the organisation, its employees, and stakeholders. These responsibilities, coupled with long hours, often travelling and working across different time zones, are bound to impact stress levels, mood, sleep, and how connected one feels to their loved ones. The top of the ladder can be a lonely place too, with those in the C-suite often finding themselves increasingly isolated from peers and colleagues, with little room to show vulnerability.

The top of the ladder can be a lonely place isolated from peers, with little room for vulnerability

Another theme I have noticed in my clinical practice with corporate clients is what is commonly referred to as “imposter syndrome.” Whilst not a mental health condition per se, this is where we doubt our achievements (no matter how successful) and fear we will be exposed as some kind of fraud. High functioning anxiety often occurs alongside this – that is an internal tornado of worry and self-doubt that exists alongside an externally cool, calm, and collected façade

that leads others to assume all is well. This persistent self-doubt can undermine confidence and lead to feelings of inadequacy and fear of making mistakes, which is then perpetuated by public scrutiny and any associated criticism that is very hard not to internalise. But we are all human at the end of the day, regardless of our position. The responsibility for acknowledging and addressing the mental toll of leadership is two-fold. At an individual level, prioritising self-care and setting boundaries around work hours, carving out time for hobbies and relaxation, practising self-compassion, and seeking support from trusted confidants, mentors, or mental health professionals is imperative. But in order for this to be realistic, it also requires a shift in organisational culture. By acknowledging the reality of stress and its impact within the organisation as a whole, and prioritising holistic health over short-term performance metrics, we can create a more sustainable model of leadership that empowers executives to lead with clarity. This could be achieved via investing in robust support systems, including access to mental health resources and support. Creating a culture that encourages open dialogue about stress and values work-life balance can go a long way towards mitigating the negative effects of executive stress and this then filters down to the rest of the organisation and positively impacts productivity for the whole system.


Creating owner value through everything we do across our range of global hotel brands

Welcome to the Exceptional Radisson Collection is a new generation of iconic properties and one-of-a-kind spaces. In our collection of exceptional hotels, no two are ever the same and each has a unique character authentic to its locality.

Enjoy it!

Radisson RED is a nimble & bold lifestyle brand with a lean operating model at vibrant destinations. RED delivers a stand-out experience. Welcoming and fashionable hotels in the beating heart of buzzing destinations.

Be Bold. Be Creative. Be Original Located in cosmopolitan centres across Europe, art’otel is a contemporary collection of lifestyle hotels that merge a unique architectural style with art-inspired decor.

Your businesses cover all of the building blocks of healthy living. Why is this so important to you? For me, creating brands around fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle is a personal mission. I believe that incorporating physical activity, balanced nutrition, and a holistic lifestyle into our lives leads to true well-being. These are the core elements that I live by daily. My goal is to inspire others to embrace these values and live healthier, happier lives.

What is the most important thing you have learned about brand building? It’s all about storytelling. It’s essential to create a narrative that resonates and evolves. Whether it’s sharing your personal journey, showcasing the impact of your products, or highlighting customer experiences, keep your audience excited and connected. A great story makes your brand unforgettable.

How do you ensure that your brands stand out and go the distance in a highly-competitive industry? Staying ahead in the well-being industry requires constant innovation and engaging storytelling. Society moves fast, and so should your brand. Understand your customers’ needs and grow with them. By continuously innovating and keeping your audience engaged, your brand can stand the test of time and avoid being just another fad.

How important have your previous jobs been in your entrepreneurial journey? My diverse career roles in financial analysis, branding, and leadership have been invaluable. Financial planning skills helped me build solid business models, while branding experience taught me to navigate the fastpaced marketing industry. Working with managing directors honed my leadership and team-building abilities.

Christopher Vahanian


You’ve done quite a bit of volunteering. What is this important to you? It’s been a heartfelt part of my journey. Moving to the US for university was a big leap, and I wanted to connect with my new community. Volunteering was my way to give back and engage with diverse people. These experiences enriched my understanding of different cultures and perspectives, shaping the empathetic and inclusive person I am today.

You’ve built a solid community of executives, athletes, creatives, and more as clients. How do you keep them motivated? Motivating a community of successful individuals means creating a space where everyone feels they belong and can grow. We offer personalised support, celebrate each milestone, and build strong connections. Understanding their unique goals and fostering a supportive environment keeps them inspired and driven.

What are your top tips for staying fit and healthy on-the-go? Staying active while traveling is crucial. I always aim for 10,000 steps a day and practice moderation with food. Packing fitness gear for quick

workouts, choosing healthier meal options, and staying hydrated are my go-to strategies for maintaining wellness on-the-go.

What are three things you always pack? I never travel without a FÍO outfit for workouts, a new book for flights and downtime, and my journal. They keep me active, entertained, and reflective.

What is your earliest memory of a holiday as a child? Being at my grandmother’s house in Singapore with my siblings, all cuddled up in the living room watching Friends. It was a time of simple joys and family togetherness.

What’s been your most memorable trip so far? Visiting Bali with my girlfriend. Its natural beauty was a refreshing change from my usual city travels. It was an unforgettable adventure that brought us closer to nature.

What’s one travel experience you’d rather forget? Honestly, I don’t have any travel experiences I’d rather forget. Each trip, whether good or challenging, has taught me something valuable.

Where are you headed next? Iceland. Glacier hiking and witnessing the Northern Lights are high on my list— adventures that promise to be truly magical.

What’s your ultimate bucket list destination and why? Growing up in fast-paced Dubai, I’ve always longed for the serene, secluded islands of Fiji. It’s the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

BUSINESS TRAVEL IS BACK but the business trip has moved on

Hyatt encourages people to mix business with pleasure

The pandemic brought business travel to a grinding halt; conferences hurriedly moved online and meetings on Teams became par for the course. Yet today, business bookings globally have not only rebounded but surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

Business travel in a post-Covid era, however, is an entirely different proposition to that which hospitality businesses could have predicted. This decade, the industry will be met with a whole host of new

opportunities in the MICE space, as the meaning of corporate travel continues to shift and evolve.

Across Hyatt’s Middle Eastern portfolio, there was a 16% jump in MICE enquiries between 2022 and 2023. In the UAE, there was a 7% increase. The business trip, it seems, is well and truly back.

Paul Dalgleish, Vice President of Sales, Revenue and Business Development in EAME at Hyatt, is conscious that corporate travel has changed, and that “fast Wi-Fi and sleek meeting rooms are no longer cutting it”. “Indeed, we know that over 80% of corporate travellers are now estimated to participate in ‘bleisure’, using business trips as an opportunity to explore new locations and participate in different experiences – from health and wellness activities to community engagement”, adds

Dalgleish. With data showing that a third of this group is keen to involve their family in business travel, companies are increasingly leaning into the trend, allowing delegates to extend trips, and selecting hotels with a more holistic offering.

Dalgleish says that Hyatt “is committed to meeting the new demand - all our hotels and brands in EMEA have unique MICE offerings which cater to the needs of a wide range of events, whether that be team building and staff incentive trips, company social gatherings or more traditional corporate travel”. Hyatt has more

than 200 hotels and 45,000 rooms in 41 countries across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, with 70 openings in the region slated for the next few years, and Dalgleish is confident that Hyatt’s MICE offering will continue to thrive. “Our meetings and events philosophy, Together by Hyatt, is our answer to these evolving preferences: offering bespoke event experience guides, sustainability fact sheets and technology tools, we want to make event planning seamless and open up our unique venues to those who are looking for a little bit extra out of business travel.” As remote

working increases in popularity, and the trend of the “digital nomad” shows no sign of slowing down, the line between business and leisure will only continue to blur. In a postpandemic era, we’re all aware that we can’t take travel for granted – so if you’re in Dubai for business, why wouldn’t you visit Burj Khalifa or the Museum of the Future?

Dalgleish also notes Hyatt’s Unique Venues platform, a collection of singular MICE spaces offering “a range of Middle Eastern, African and European properties which combine the corporate and the cultural, such as Grand Hyatt Dubai and Hyatt Regency Oryx Doha. As business travel picks up across EMEA, we’re delighted that corporate travellers are looking for more diverse offerings - it makes these trips more exciting for them, and the job more exciting for us.” Who needs a Teams background when you can have the real thing?

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Grand Hyatt Dubai has the region’s largest conference centre attached to a hotel; the newly opened Grand Hyatt Barcelona has 3,400 sqm of event space; Hyatt Regency Paris Étoile combines MICE facilites with a great location

Business Traveller Middle East gives George Ghaly, general manager of The First Collection at Jumeirah Village Circle, a Tribute Portfolio hotel, five minutes to pitch his property to prospective guests

The First Collection at Jumeirah Village Circle, a Tribute Portfolio hotel, invites guests from all walks of life to lean into a stay filled with unparalleled hospitality, sustainable amenities, and unique adventures. The first hotel in the Middle East to join Marriott’s esteemed Tribute Portfolio, the property is in JVC – just 20 minutes from Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina, and many of the city’s cultural gems, serving as the perfect base for every itinerary.

The hotel offers 491 rooms and suites boasting modern interiors, meticulous design, and thoughtful enhancements. Many rooms include floor-to-ceiling views stretching from Jumeirah Village Circle to Dubai Marina. For guests seeking a truly unique experience, booking a top-floor Terrace Skyline Jacuzzi Room – featuring an outdoor spa bath, cabana, and idyllic city views – is highly recommended.

No stay with The First Collection at Jumeirah Village Circle, a Tribute Portfolio hotel, would be complete without indulging

in its three homegrown restaurants, which are a culinary haven for guests and walk-in visitors alike. From the sumptuous South American-inspired menu of Santè Ria to the family-friendly cuisine at Village Bistro and Risen Café & Artisanal Bakery’s awardwinning all-day menu, every venue delivers a trifecta of delicious dining, elevated hospitality, and vibrant surroundings.

NEST Social, the hotel’s executive lounge, transforms the professional and social experience. An intimate space to relax and socialise, NEST offers a selection of highquality artisanal foods and beverages as well as complimentary wifi and plug points.

Moreover, the property boasts everything guests will need to unwind and recharge. A large pool and sundeck adorned with sprawling palms and a poolside bar await on the Mezzanine floor, while fitness enthusiasts can take advantage of the hotel’s state-ofthe-art gym. For an added layer of serenity, guests will find separate male and female spa rooms and a range of indulgent treatments to revive the body and mind.

And that’s just the beginning. The First Collection at Jumeirah Village Circle, a Tribute Portfolio hotel, breathes new life into the hotel experience with its own slice of paradise. Blending the buzz of urban city life with complimentary access to Soluna Restaurants and Beach Club on The Palm Jumeirah, guests can expect spontaneous beach days featuring premium beach and poolside sun loungers, diverse and delicious dining, and over 20 thrilling watersports.

Every stay [at our property] propels guests to live each moment to the fullest. Leisure seekers, families, and business visitors choosing the property can expect a memorable experience tailored to the diverse needs of the modern traveller. Discover the essence of transformative stays as we redefine hospitality, offering a narrative of community, authenticity, and immersive experiences.

A Distinctive Dining Destination

Bujairi Terrace, a distinctive dining destination that re ects the authenticity and heritage of Diriyah.


Connect with our award-winning meals.

netae path



Tired of heading to the same old places year after year? Want to avoid the crowds in the more common summer hotspots? With airlines serving the region offering routes to an increasingly wide range of destinations, it’s simpler than ever for residents in the Middle East to explore somewhere along the road less travelled

With temperatures getting hotter and schools closing out for the season, summer is one of the best times for leisure travel no matter where you are in the world. Yet each region seems to have its go-to favourite destinations, usually linked to easy ight routes, a welcome change in weather and scenery, and the chance to enjoy a di erent culture. Recent data from dnata – which isn’t just one of the UAE’s longestrunning travel operators, but is also one of the world’s largest air services providers – the UK, the Maldives, Türkiye, the USA, and ailand are among the most popular destinations for those jetting o from the emirates for the summer.

Meanwhile, according to a report from WEGO – one of the most popular travel apps and largest online travel marketplaces in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region – when it comes to summer getaways for travellers from the wider GCC, the UK, Germany, and Italy still top the list, at least when it comes to European destinations. Many people also tend to travel home to see loved ones, with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India, Türkiye, ailand, Kuwait, Indonesia, the Philippines, Jordan, and the UAE ranking among WEGO’s most-searched destinations at this time of year.

With regionally-based airlines, or those serving the region, now o ering more and more new ight routes, the list of summer holiday possibilities for the GCC traveller is now bigger than ever. ey o er the chance to discover new hidden gems lled with authentic culture, food, and attractions that will make for an unforgettable escape. Here are some that we’re putting on our list.

Penang, Malaysia

Known as the Pearl of the Orient or Pearl Island, this beautiful island on the northwest coast of peninsular Malaysia is almost like two destinations in one: it’s split into two parts, with Penang Island on one side, and Seberang Perai on the other (connected to the mainland), joined by the Penang Bridge and Second Penang Bridge. is February, ydubai commenced daily ights to Penang as well as nearby Langkawi Island, becoming the rst airline to operate ights to these islands from the UAE. While the latter is known for its unspoiled white sand beaches and turquoise waters (not to mention a duty-free status that makes souvenir-shopping a dream), for gourmands, Penang has a unique draw: it’s a foodie haven.

anks to the Chinese, Malay, Indian, and British in uences in its colourful history, the street food o ering in George Town – a UNESCO-listed site that is also renowned for its beautiful historic architecture – is a beautiful mishmash of avours and textures. e hawker centres are a must-visit, as are

Valletta, Malta

e capital of Malta, this tiny walled city will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time, and possibly onto the set of Game of rones. In fact, some of the famous TV show was even lmed in the country – King’s Landing was shot in Mdina, another city just a 20-25 minute drive from Valletta. From the Upper Barakka Gardens – a stunning public garden on the upper tier of Saints Peter and Paul Bastion, with a panoramic view of the Grand Harbour below – you can view the Red Keep's Dungeons in nearby town Birgu. Called Fort St. Angelo in real life, you can travel there from Valleta in 18-20 minutes by car, or 10 minutes by ferry.

is type of quick and convenient accessibility is one of the joys of Malta –it’s only 316 sqm in total, making it the

the night markets: famous names include the New Lane, New World, and Gurney Drive hawker centres, and the Macallum Street, Batu Ferringhi, Farlim, and Jelutong night markets. ese are not fancy places – they’re o en humid, ultra-casual, no-frills spots in which to get some truly delicious food of all types. Items to try include the famous noodle dish char kway teow, ikan bakar (grilled sh), laksa (a fragrant spicy and sour broth-based soup), nasi lemak (coconut rice wrapped in pandan leaves, served with a spicy sambal) and satay (marinated, grilled skewers of meat) to lesser-known options such as apom pancake (crepe-like peanut pancake turnovers), seafood popiah (spring rolls in fresh wrapping), roti canai (gravy-dipped aky bread), or ice cream shaped like cat faces; all washed down with drinks such as barley water, milk and herbal teas, chrystanthemum tea, or juices of any and every kind.

When you’re not eating, there’s plenty more to see and do. Adventure-seekers and families will love amusement park Escape Penang, while nature-lovers can hike up

tenth-smallest country by area and the smallest capital city in the European Union Travelling from Malta International Airport to Valletta will take you 18-20 minutes, and a half-hour's drive will take you to the furthest locations in the country. Yet you don’t actually need to leave Valletta for some amazing sights if you don’t want to – there’s enough there to keep you busy for days.

e city is renowned for its stunning Baroque architecture and its living, working port. For those who love history, art, culture, and discovering fantastic cuisine, it can make for a spectacular short summer break.

St. John’s Co-Cathedral is a must-visit, with jaw-dropping frescoes and a marble

Penang Hill, or explore Entopia butter y farm or the Tropical Spice Garden. History and culture bu s can check out Kek Lok Si Temple, Cheong Fatt Tze – e Blue Mansion, Khoo Kongsi clanhouse, or pop by Chew Jetty’s scenic harbour.

Whatever you choose, there is no shortage of things to discover in this vibrant cultural corner of Malaysia.

flydubai flies to Penang International Airport daily from Dubai International Airport, with fares starting from Dhs2,700.

oor that houses the tombs of the Knights of the Order, as well as paintings by renowned Italian artist Caravaggio. At the Grand Master’s Palace, you’ll be able to see o cial historic state rooms and audience chambers – which modern Maltese presidents still welcome foreign guests to. In fact, the President of Malta O ce is actually still based here. Weapons enthusiasts will love the armoury, with an impressive collection of authentic items used by the knights and Grand Masters of the Order of Malta.

When it’s time for a souvenir and a bite, Republic Street and

Poznan, Poland

Merchant Street will have you covered, with countless terrace-bedecked cafés and restaurants serving incredible food and drink, boutique and artisan shops, and a lively market. When done, you can continue your tour with visits to the Teatru Manoel, The Three Cities, Casa Rocca Piccola – a still-inhabited palace – or one of its many museums showcasing fine arts, archaeological treasures, war memorial items, and more. Turkish Airlines flies to Malta International Airport daily from Dubai International Airport, with fares starting from Dhs2,540.

One of the oldest cities in Poland, Poznan makes for a truly charming city break filled with plenty of history, impressive architecture, and an enchanting old town. In October 2023, flydubai became the first UAE national carrier to launch direct flights there with a thrice-weekly service, making it the airline’s third destination in Poland after Krakow and Warsaw.

Considering Poznan used to be the capital of Poland – it was the ancient capital of the Greater Poland region, and is one of four historical capitals of medieval Poland – it’s little surprise that the city is chockfull of grand historical landmarks. A visit to the Old Market Square makes for the perfect introduction to the architectural beauty of this city, with colourful and Renaissancestyle buildings. The square has recently fully reopened after having undergone major renovations and reconstruction work in the past few years, with much to see around it including the Town Hall, Merchants Houses, Weighing House, the Guardhouse, Działyński and Mielżyński Palace, and the Punishment Post – a 16th-century means of punishing women who dressed themselves in ways considered inappropriate for their social standing. There are also a number of famous monuments, including fountains

of Apollo, Neptune, and Mars, and the Bamberka Fountain, depicting a Bamber woman holding two buckets of water and wine, erected in the 1900s for use by both humans and animals.

Thanks to the 130,000-odd students at Adam Mickiewicz University, the city boasts a bohemian spirit with plenty of ways to enjoy daily life, including lively nightlife and an awesome food scene, with tasty and authentic bites at affordable prices. Poznan is a very walkable place that can also be easily explored by bicycle or public transport, and there’s art everywhere, from street art to sprawling parks filled with interesting sculptures and exhibitions – you’ll even find some at the Old Brewery, which is now a thriving commercial district. When you’re done there, you can also visit Brovaria –Poland’s very first brewery – which is still in operation and serves up fresh, unique hoppy beverages. Wherever you choose to dine, no visit to Poznan would be complete with a taste of one of Poland’s most famous foods, the pierogi – moreish filled dumplings that can be sweet or savoury, and served baked, boiled or fried.

flydubai flies to Poznań–Ławica Henryk Wieniawski Airport three times a week from Dubai International Airport, with fares starting from Dhs2,950.

Almaty, Kazakhstan

For lovers of the great green outdoors, a visit to Kazakhstan’s largest metropolis, Almaty, will make for an unforgettable trip. Located at the foot of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains, you can enjoy beautiful mountain-backdrop views pretty much anywhere you go in this city, which used to be the country’s capital. A popular destination for residents and visitors alike, Kaindy and Kolsai lakes make for a memorable day trip best travelled to by car or shared taxi. The latter’s blue waters are so clear that in the right conditions, you can see the surrounding peaks and forests reflected upon the water Kaindy, meanwhile,

Da Nang, Vietnam

While Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City – two of the most-popular cities in Vietnam – both have a thrilling list of things to see, eat, and experience, this spot in the country's centre is a rapidly growing tourism destination. It’s the biggest city in central Vietnam and the fourth largest in the country overall. Locals know it for its large port and strong fishingrelated economy. For tourists, however, it’s renowned for its gorgeous beaches and many seafront attractions.

Da Nang has a number of epic sculptures and monuments, starting with the Lady Buddha – the tallest Buddha statue in Vietnam with a height of 67m. On her hat, there’s another small Buddha statue, and all around her is a courtyard with beautiful pagodas and small temples to see, as well as impressive views of the Marble Mountains, Son Tra Sea, and the rest of the island. The mountains themselves are another key sight in Da Nang : A cluster of five peaks made of limestone and marble, there are small paths and climbing trails, beautiful pagodas, statues and shrines, and mysterious caves to explore.

In the city itself, the 666m long Dragon Bridge not only runs six lanes for traffic, but it’s literally shaped like a dragon, with the dragon sculpture atop it actually breathing

is often described as a natural wonder due to its unique makeup. It was formed after an earthquake that left the remaining trees preserved in the cold ice-blue waters. Dubbed the “sunken forest”, the area's epic views can be enjoyed with hot, sweet tea and a barbecue in one of the nearby yurts or campsite observation decks.

For something less green, you can visit Charyn, described as the younger foreign brother of the Grand Canyon in the US’s Arizona. The 154km canyon is part of a

national park, and boasts jaw-dropping rock formations in a spectrum of colours. If city life is more your speed, then there’s plenty to see in town too. A list of mustvisit historic areas and grand monuments include the Golden Quarter, Republic Square – and the Golden Man warrior statue that honours the country’s independence, the Voznescenskiy Ascension Cathedral with goldflecked and art-filled interiors, and the Central State Museum and Almaty City Museum. By night, culture vultures can enjoy a visit to the Abay Opera and Ballet Theatre, or enjoy a delicious meal with live music in one of the city’s many atmospheric restaurants. This is a city that truly loves music and art, so much so that since November 2017, it has been recognised as part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Air Astana flies to Almaty International Airport daily from Dubai International Airport, with fares starting from Dhs1,660.

fire and water every Saturday and Sunday night at 9pm. It also happens to be the shortest route from Da Nang International Airport to the other main roads in the city. Not too dar from Da Nang, the Golden Bridge in the Ba Na Hills Resort – a charming storybook-style French-inspired village that reminds visitors of the impact that French colonialism has left across Vietnam – the gold-hued bridge is held up by two giant hands made of fiberglass and wire mesh but that look like stone. It’s a sight you definitely won’t want to miss the opportunity to snap a photo with. You can also view it from the nearby Ba Na Cable Car.

Vietnam is known for its fresh and eclectic cuisine, and while in Da Nang, it would be a shame not to try Mì Quảng noodles – a local speciality made of rice noodles, served with broth, and infused with turmeric, as well as bánh xèo – a crispy stuffed rice pancake. You can also try curious items such as avocado ice cream and snails fried with tamarind juice, and with Vietnam increasingly being recognised as having some of the best coffee in the world, the country’s famous iced coconut coffee is also well worth a try.

Singapore Airlines flies to Da Nang International Airport five times a week from Dubai International Airport, with fares starting from Dhs6,090.

The inside scoop

The spa market is projected to grow from more than US$60 billion in 2023 to over US$155 billion by 2031. We talk to Christian Kiefer, CEO and Founder of Spa Wellness Project Management, to learn more

Wellness-related travel is booming. Why do you think this is? It has a lot to do with the growing global focus on holistic health and well-being. People are increasingly seeking experiences that offer mental, physical, and emotional rejuvenation. The rise in stress and burnout has led many to prioritise self-care and preventive health measures. The integration of wellness into travel allows individuals to relax, providing a much-needed break from their daily routines while promoting overall well-being during their trips. It’s driven by increasing awareness of the benefits of a balanced lifestyle, prompting more people to seek immersive wellness experiences that offer long-term health benefits.

The spa has long been a cornerstone of this segment. What are some of the biggest developments in recent years? The integration of advanced technology like cryotherapy and infrared saunas, and offering cutting-edge treatments. Both Rayya Wellness and Wellbeings offer these innovations and more, with personalised wellness programmes catering to individual health needs and preferences. We have a strong focus on sustainability, adopting eco-friendly practices and using natural, organic products. The rise of mindfulness and mental wellness is reflected in our inclusion of meditation and stress-relief therapies. Our wellness retreats combine fitness, nutrition, and holistic health, providing comprehensive rejuvenation experiences.

Do different global markets have alternate tastes for their spa needs? Absolutely. Western markets often focus on relaxation, fitness, and beauty treatments, seeking a blend of luxury and health benefits. In contrast, Asian markets emphasise traditional healing methods such as Ayurveda, acupuncture, and herbal medicine, valuing holistic wellness approaches. Middle Eastern

markets prioritise privacy and luxury, with a preference for opulent spa environments. These differences reflect cultural values and health philosophies, necessitating that spas tailor their services to meet regional preferences and provide an authentic experience.

Many spas are adding an active component to their menus. How can existing spas adapt this way?

At Rayya Wellness and Wellbeings, we’ve incorporated yoga, sound healing, and similar popular services into our offerings to create a perfect blend of relaxation and vitality. We offer unique experiences like mommy-andme yoga mornings and energy candle art workshops, ensuring there’s something for everyone. Like any industry, one needs to adapt according to the changing preferences and today, it is very clear that more individuals are looking for a a holistic approach.

How do you see the spa industry evolving over the next several years? Through increased integration of technology, such as AI-driven personalised wellness plans and virtual reality relaxation experiences. Sustainability will become a core focus, with eco-friendly practices and products becoming standard. Personalised treatments tailored to individual health data will grow in popularity. Plus, wellness tourism will expand, with spas offering comprehensive health retreats that combine physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

What is the most common type of visitor to the hotel spa?

Totally depends on the location. At leisure hotels by the beach, the spa typically sees a majority of in-house guests seeking relaxation during their vacation. In contrast, city hotel spas experience a diverse mix, with approximately 70 per cent of visitors being residents or business travellers, from young

professionals to middle-aged adults, all looking for a quick escape from the urban hustle.

How can hotel spas increase their appeal to non-guests?

To cater to a larger audience, hotel spas can offer memberships, day passes, and special packages tailored to residents. Hosting community events, workshops, and wellness seminars can draw in non-guests and establish the spa as a local wellness hub. We constantly do events across our outlets and found them to be a great way to connect and understand our local customer.

What about for hotel guests?

Focus on convenience, integrating services seamlessly with stays, offering exclusive packages, and targeting travel-related needs like jet lag recovery. Hotel guests appreciate tailored in-room wellness experiences and flexibility in booking.

What’s your go-to spa treatment?

It has to be Hot Stones. I’m always as tense as a rock, and the soothing heat from the stones melts away all that built-up tension, leaving me feeling completely relaxed and rejuvenated.

What’s your favourite destination?

Definitely Bali and Hawaii. Both places have a certain magic and spirit that touch the soul, offering a sensory experience that’s truly unparalleled. The natural beauty in both locations, from lush landscapes to pristine beaches, adds to their enchanting allure.

What are three things you would never travel without?

My passport, of course; my Bose headphones, and iPad loaded with all my music playlists.

The company behind Rayya Wellness and Wellbeings Holistic Healing, Spa Wellness Project Management redefines luxury wellness experiences and disrupts the industry approach in outsourcing hotel spas.

Have you ever planned to follow a workout routine before a trip, only to struggle to stick to it while on the go? It’s ok. We’ve all been there at some point –and help is at hand

On The Move

High intent, low usage – that was once the common pattern among many hotel guests when it came to staying active while travelling, whether that was done through hitting the streets of a new city for a run, going for a hike, or using the hotel gym.

Taking a break from your exercise regimen from time to time can be a good thing – in a healthy routine, rest and recovery are just as important to the growth process as the training is.

However, when you’re on a busy business trip that’s packed with meetings, with disrupted working hours and time zones, and far away from all of the aspects that help you stick to your day-to-day motivators, it can be hard to stay committed.

Yet recent figures show that luxury hotel gyms and health clubs are being increasingly utilised through a combination of a growing global awareness and passion for well-being, new and improved facilities, and more inventive ways to stay fit on the road, often helped by breakthrough technologies. Back in 2017, a study by the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration found that 46

per cent of hotel guests did plan on using the gym during their stay – but only 22 per cent wound up doing so. But in 2024, this is changing.

In a post-pandemic world, peoples’ approach to personal fitness has evolved. Consumers across the world discovered that by simply adapting their training routines, and incorporating new ideas such as home workouts, virtual training sessions, and more outdoor activity, staying fit can be a lot less intimidating and more accessible than it once was.

Combined with wellness being an ever-growing priority in the current day, the standard hotel fitness centre hasn’t just bounced back along with the rest of the hotel industry – it’s taking on a new lease of life.

A 2023 report by found that 80 per cent of millennials believe that exercise is a key aspect of their holiday experience, and major hotel brands across the world are teaming up with big fitness apparel and equipment brands to offer a more attractive experience for guests who are looking to stay fit and healthy while jet-setting. Another alternative that has been growing in appeal is the fitness app. It makes

ABOVE: Mobilefriendly fitness apps are a great way to stay fit on-the-go

BELOW: In 2024, the modern business traveller can stay healthy through not only exercise options adaptable for jet-setters, but through mental health boosters too

sense, with affordable, user-friendly options that can be done anywhere from a resort’s fitness centre to any urban environment, or even in one’s hotel room. It’s becoming so popular that the global fitness app market is expected to reach a value of US$25.9 billion by 2033.

While there are hundreds of such apps to choose from, one brand that has been enjoying significant growth is Apple. With its popular smart watch, a free breathing mindfulness feature on its iPhones, and the largest library of 4K Ultra HD fitness and wellness content in the world through

its Fitness+ o ering – which has more than 5,000 workouts and meditations ranging from ve to 45 minutes each, and more added every week – the ultra-accessible, integrated approach is proving to be an international hit. We asked two Apple Fitness+ trainers, Brian Cochrane and Nez Dally, for their advice on how to keep t while traversing the globe.

What are some great ways that people can stay on top of their tness goals during a business trip?

Brian: Building time into your schedule is an easy way to keep your training a priority. Remember that your workouts don’t have to be long to be e ective. A daily 10 or 20-minute workout is absolutely enough to keep you ticking over – and we have plenty of those in Fitness+! [ is service] can also help you stay consistent with custom plans – you can choose the days, durations, workout types, meditation themes, trainers, and music, and [it] will generate a plan just for you, to keep you motivated and on track. Nez: Be exible! It always helps to have a plan, but it’s ok to adapt depending on how much time you have and what you have access to.

What about on a leisurely vacation?

Brian: If you want to continue your normal training regime, try hitting the hotel gym – understanding that you may have to adapt based on what equipment is available. If you don’t

have a gym available, bodyweight strength or HIIT workouts can do the trick, as well as activities like yoga and kickboxing. We have a huge variety to choose from on Apple Fitness+ that you can do anywhere, anytime – all you need is your iPhone!

Nez: Vacation is a great time to do things you wouldn’t normally do and may not usually have the opportunity to do – maybe it’s going for a swim or trying a new hike! e Time to Walk and Time to Run episodes on Fitness+ are a great way to stay active while on the go. You can [also] enjoy audioguided walks with inspiring guests, and coached runs with the perfect playlists. One of my favourite ways to explore a new city or place I’m visiting is to go for a run. It’s a way to explore, get around and get to know the place while also tting movement into your day. And you might even nd a spot you want to try for dinner!

Aside from the physical aspect, the mindset can be one of the hardest challenges. What are your tips nding the energy to exercise when you’re on a busy business trip, or a er a long work day?

Brian: Focus on your ‘why.’ It’s really helpful to have – and focus on – a ‘why’ to help give you purpose. Your ‘why’ may change over time, and that’s ok. Maybe you’re training for a speci c event, or have a speci c goal in mind – or perhaps it’s to improve certain health markers. Whatever it is, keep it in mind as your motivation.

Whether you’re away from home for business or pleasure, staying active when you travel can help keep your energy up and stress down, and muscle tension in check. Exercise can even take the edge o jet lag. Travel-friendly workouts (like those from Apple) can be adapted based on whatever amenities you have around you. If it’s a guest room with no equipment and not much space, squeeze in one or more bodyweightonly strength, HIIT, or core workouts.


When Nez discovered Muay Thai, she was instantly hooked on its mix of total-body strength and self-defence. In 2018, looking to inspire her daughters, she became the first woman to compete in Thailand while wearing a hijab. In her workouts, she brings the drive you’d expect from a high-achieving athlete to empower you with every jab, cross, and kick.



A trainer since he was 18, Brian has a way of dropping coaching tips right when you need them most and matching moves to big beat drops – in drum ’n’ bass, hip-hop, and EDM. The Scotlandnative is a former singer in an indie band who turns to his guitar to relax. When he’s not training or strumming, he seeks adventure by scuba diving – occasionally with sharks.

Nez: Doing something is always better than doing nothing. Movement can come in many di erent forms, and if you can only t in 10-20 minutes, that’s great. Planning ahead also helps, to keep yourself accountable, motivated and make exercise a priority. I also nd it productive to lay out your workout clothes the night before, so you can get up in the morning and be ready to start your day with a small win!

When you have a fully stocked hotel gym, go for cycling, treadmill, rowing, or strength workouts with dumbbells. Stretch and destress with yoga and mindful cooldowns when you need to get the kinks out after a car or plane trip.

And they don’t need to be long, either – when each workout is kept to only 10 or 20 minutes, you can still expect an on-time arrival to your next business meeting, family reunion, or tourist attraction.


Heal, Thrive, Nourish:

Saudi Arabia’s new well-being capitals

1 Yoga, Meditation, and Star-Gazing at AlUla

Saudi’s up-and-coming wellness capital, AlUla is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as a living museum holding 200,000 years of largely unexplored human history. For the last four years, it’s been host to the country’s renowned Wellness Festival, attended by locals and travellers from across the world alike. Here, you can enjoy a full range of yoga classes, fitness sessions, and stunning spa treatments at two of its most exceptional hotels, Our Habitas AlUla and the Banyan Tree (which also has a mountain-nestled rock pool), anytime you wish. The former is also well-known for its meditation o erings, including sound healing sessions under the stars. If nature is what you’re after, there’s plenty of forms of “meditation through movement” to enjoy. You can take a hot air balloon ride o ering spectacular views of the unique landscape, go horse riding across the plains, explore the verdant botanical gardens of Daimumah, or hike through Hegra with its iconic rock formations such as Fish Rock and Face Rock. To enjoy breathtaking sunsets of orange, pink, and gold, you can camp at Elephant Rock, before stargazing amidst the stillness of the desert sands under the Dancing Rocks (Al Gharameel).

From active mountain hikes and serene oases to peaceful nights under the desert stars, the vast landscapes of Saudi Arabia are fast becoming the ultimate destination to retreat, restore, and rejuvenate in the region

Picture this: you start your day with a soothing yoga class, before enjoying a healthy and wholesome breakfast. You then spend the rest of your morning relaxing, perhaps by the pool, before going for a hike in a lush mountain terrain, rife with palm trees and ancient villages to explore. After soaking in some adventure, your energy revitalised, you return to a blissful massage before a delectable dinner and a great night’s sleep in a luxurious hotel bed.

All of this and more can be enjoyed across Saudi Arabia. Whether you’re looking to ground yourself in nature, relax and unwind with a healing treatment, or simply fill your cup with a spot of self-care and unforgettable memories, the kingdom has it all. Here are three must-try wellness experiences in Saudi Arabia – where it has never been easier to visit, thanks to the country’s revolutionary eVisa programme and the increasing number of flights available from across the region and the rest of the world.

2 Diving and Watersports at The Red Sea

If you’re looking to plunge yourself into a thriving underwater world, there’s nowhere better than The Red Sea. The coastal area offers a plethora of thrilling watersports, from paddleboarding, windsurfing, jet skiing, wing foiling, e-boarding, and kitesurfing to snorkelling and diving, all of which is located alongside aweinspiring dunes. Not only are these waters surrounded by the world’s fourth-largest barrier reef system that’s teeming with marine life, the archipelago is also surrounded by 90 untouched, white-sand islands. It’s been described as one of the last true hidden treasures across the globe. When you’re ready to relax your sea legs with a land-based activity, there’s plenty to do on the surface, with hotels such as the Six Senses Southern Dunes and The St. Regis Red Sea Resort already open for guests. At the former, you can enjoy yoga and meditation surrounded by majestic volcanic craters and vast mountain ranges, with the chance to take workshops on fun topics like making your own clean skincare products. At the latter, sustainability enthusiasts can take a conservation tour around the rare ecosystem – before discovering the aquatic landscape through Galaxeca diving school, or the overwater world through AKUN's exploration activities. If you want to continue your adventures with some time in Jeddah, you can head to Sharm Obhur for diving, Bayada Island for boating and snorkelling, or Mastourah for dune bashing.

TOP: Two young women walk toward a sunny opening in the deep caverns of Al Qarah Mountain

ABOVE: A potter in traditional dress moulding clay at a wheel

LEFT: A snorkeler swimming to the surface at The Red Sea

OPPOSITE PAGE CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Hiking in a canyon; Hot air balloon at Face Rock; Horse riding at AlUla

3 Hot Springs and Hiking at Al-Ahsa

The world’s largest desert oasis, this UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Eastern Province has more than 2.5 million palm trees and archaeological sites against a backdrop of stunning craggy mountains. Adrenaline-seekers can enjoy a spot of desert equestrianism, alongside climbs, hikes, and the chance to explore hidden caves and secret grottos at Al-Qarah Mountain, while those looking for lush foliage can head to King Abdullah Environmental Park to explore its lush gardens while picnicking, bird watching, or going on long scenic walks. Al-Ahsa is also home to several hot springs that are known for their healing properties, with mineral-rich thermal waters that can reach temperatures of up to 32°C. If it’s creative rest you’re in need of, you can liberate your artistic side with a handicraft workshop on pottery or weaving – or simply soothe yourself in one of its five-star properties, such as the Al Ahsa InterContinental, which boasts the first L’OCCITANE-inspired spa in the Eastern Province with exclusive treatments and therapies.

Loved by luxury travellers, backpackers, and digital nomads alike, this island paradise continues to reinvent itself as the ultimate getaway

In the 1980s, a small, volcanic island in the Indonesian archipelago discovered the potential of the tourism industry. By the mid-90s, Bali welcomed legions of surfers and nature-lovers who were content with eating local food and lodging at modest bed-and-breakfast establishments. Kuta Beach stood out as the ultimate destination, o ering a perfect blend of surf-worthy waves and vibrant nightlife, its allure etched forever by the unveiling of the iconic Hard Rock Café in 1998.

Much has changed since. Today, tourism-related business makes up 80


The Forever Changing Island

per cent of Bali’s economy, and this Indonesian island synonymous with wellness and relaxation is seeing a boom in real estate development and luxury travellers.

The price of growth

e transition from the Kuta district to Seminyak occurred gradually, marked by the introduction of larger establishments, upscale hotels, and a diverse culinary scene. Seminyak became the place to go for high-end shopping, quality garments, and a bustling nightlife. Motel Mexicola , with its quirky decoration, great tacos, and lively mix of DJs and revellers, is a destination not to be missed.

e subsequent phase of development, from Seminyak to Canggu, became inevitable. Once characterised by rice terraces, this area now buzzes with motorised

ABOVE: In 2024, the TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards named Bali the second most popular destination in the world for the second year in a row

BELOW: The main pool at the Samsara


two-wheelers and low-rise concrete buildings. Formerly a sleepy coastal village, Canggu has been transformed into a bohemian chic and family-fun neighbourhood. Classic examples are COMO Uma Canggu Hotel with stunning beach views and a dedicated sur ng school, and e Lawn Canggu Beach Club for the ultimate pool party experience.


With the traffic at a standstill no matter the time of day or night, the best way to experience the island is on a scooter, for as little as US$5 dollars a day. Driver’s licences are seldom required for rentals, helmets are compulsory (regularly inspected by police), and fuel, along with savoury snacks, can be bought in bottles at roadside stalls For those uncomfortable with self-driving, an alternative is to ride with an Uber- style service through apps like Grab or Gojek.

Yet, as more visitors seek solace from the frenetic pace of modern life, the spotlight has begun to shift towards the northern and central regions of Bali.

at Canggu beach; Poolside relaxation at luxury resorts is a popular pastime in this hot wellness tourism haven; A green papaya salad at Hujan Locale Restaurant in Ubud

Central Bali’s health retreats:

A sanctuary for the soul

With the rapid development unfolding along the southwest coast, it comes as no surprise that central Ubud has emerged as the epicentre of culture and relaxation. Its lush landscapes, dotted with ancient temples and verdant rice paddies, set the stage for a journey inward.

Ubud’s rise as a destination for the wellness- and eco-conscious traveller can be attributed to its laid-back vibe and a burgeoning scene of vegan cafés, yoga studios, and holistic health retreats. One such example is the Samsara Ubud Hotel, which offers

tailored spa experiences and secluded bungalows featuring private pools with scenic views of the river valley. Away from the city, meditation practices there are enriched only by the sounds of nature engulfing the estate.

The Balinese spa experience is an art form, deeply rooted in the island’s healing traditions. Its eponymous massage, known for its gentle yet effective techniques, is widely available, with massage parlours never too far away and rates starting at US$6 an hour. Many professionals also deliver at-home services for those staying in rented accommodations. Luxurious spas like the Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, and the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan integrate traditional Balinese healing practices with contemporary wellness approaches. Treatments often incorporate natural ingredients like herbs, spices, and essential oils, presenting a sensory journey that revitalises the body and soothes the soul.

Como Shambhala Estate and the tranquil Five Elements Puri Ahimsa provide holistic wellness programmes, including yoga, meditation, Ayurvedic treatments, and nutritional guidance, all designed to foster balance and wellness. Set amidst breathtaking natural landscapes, these retreats present an ideal setting for detoxification, stress relief, and spiritual renewal.

Vegan delights:

A culinary revolution

Bali is at the forefront of the vegan culinary revolution, boasting an impressive array of restaurants that cater to the discerning plant-based diner. Ubud is often considered the island’s vegan heartland, with establishments like The Seeds of Life, Alchemy, and Moksa rendering creative and delectable vegan fare. Customers seeking 100 per cent celiac-friendly and gluten-free dining options will feel delighted throughout the island. Mara’s Kitchen in Ubud is renowned for its sweet treats and KYND Community, with two locations on the western coast, serves a wide range of dishes from breakfast through dinner in a charming pinkthemed setting, including pizza, ice cream, local cuisine, and more – all of which are gluten-free and vegan. For those with a penchant for culinary indulgence, Bali offers exceptional choices. Brunch Club Berawa by the Bali Equestrian Center in Canggu serves fluffy pancakes and several healthy options including a tasty beetroot hummus. Paleo enthusiasts can relish steaks at Don Fernando or Uma Garden in Seminyak. But

CLOCKWISE FROM BELOW: Surfers at sunset

regardless of one’s dietary requirements, no one should leave the island before tasting the phenomenal Indonesian cuisine of Hujan Locale in Ubud.

From raw food cafés to gourmet plant-based restaurants, Bali’s culinary scene is characterised by its use of fresh, local ingredients and its commitment to sustainability and health. Dishes are not only a feast for the taste buds, but also a testament to the changing requirements of its clientele.

Adventure and culture go hand-in-hand

Bali’s cultural heartbeat is palpable in its temples, dances, and art, all narrating stories of faith, nature, and the cosmos.

Although Islam is the predominant religion in Indonesia, 87 per cent of Bali’s population adheres to Hinduism. Its myriad temples, from the serene Uluwatu to the majestic Besakih, show a glimpse into the spiritual life of the island. Be it at Tanah Lot, Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, or any other popular temple, early arrival is a must in order to beat the crowds.

For those seeking to connect to the environment in a more adventurous way, rafting is the recommended sport. Bali boasts a range of rivers catering to various skill levels, promising a remarkable journey through forestclad valleys aboard inflatable boats. Bakas Levi Rafting on the island’s eastern frontier delivers an adrenalinecharged experience, featuring steep descents and ample opportunities to

commune with nature en-route. Lunch and transfers to and from hotels are included in the package price.

At the southernmost part of the island, nature once again surprises its visitors. At Sundays Beach Club, the black sand spotted on the beaches throughout the perimeter of Bali gives way to fine white sand and turquoise waters. Accessible through a panoramic funicular ride down the cliff from the hotel, this secluded gem provides a day replete with beach volleyball, snorkeling, paddle boarding, live music, and delectable dining options. Entrance costs around US$40 per person and is mostly redeemable against food and drink. Prior reservation is a must and the left-side cabanas are the most private. With over one hundred yoga centres listed in southern Bali alone, practitioners

are spoilt for choice. Udara Bali combines a retreat with a detox programme, and holds sessions (including aerial yoga) in an open hall with panoramic ocean views. House of Om has counted over 25,000 students in their 200-300 hours of teacher-training courses while AYMC Alchemy focuses on traditional tantra, meditation, and yoga.

Bali's ever-evolving future

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: An assortment of colourful sarongs for sale in a local market on Bali island; Rice terraces in Sidemen on Bali; a woman wearing a traditional Balinese dance outfit.

The UAE's Etihad Airways has now launched direct flights between Abu Dhabi and Bali, flying between them four times a week since 25 June 2024.

Whether indulging in the serene beaches of Canggu, immersing in the holistic havens of Ubud, or exploring the scattered cultural gems of the island, Bali beckons us to embark on a journey that transcends the ordinary. As it continues to draw in global travellers, the island grapples with the challenge of harmonising tourism expansion with environmental and cultural preservation.

At first, the environmental shock is substantial: a lone Balinese tends to his rice paddy, while a dozen workers erect the infrastructure of the island’s largest indoor padel tennis court. But Bali’s commitment to sustainability is evident in the eco-friendly architectural designs of many of its health retreats and spas, along with the organic farming practices adopted by its various vegan restaurants.

The world perpetually evolves, and so does Bali. Only time will unveil the future speed of changes awaiting this unique island.

Wellness at Work: The Rise of the Executive Retreat

Located in the heart of Bangkok, RAKxa’s innovative and integrative programmes are promising success beyond the boardroom

The average person is estimated to spend one-third of their life working. In the case of executives who are employed in high-pressure and fastpaced industries, this can be doubled. Retaining these key members is vital to business, but in corporate leadership, the relentless pursuit of success often takes a toll on well-being. A shift is underway as forward-thinking enterprises recognise that enduring success demands a strategic prioritisation of executive wellness.

The concept of corporate well-being has transitioned from a passing trend to an integral component of company strategy. Thailand’s leading integrated wellness destination, RAKxa, is at the forefront of combining the latest medical science with alternative holistic medicines, offering

personalised retreats for executives. The aim is to equip top-tier professionals with the tools and knowledge to navigate the complexities of their personal and professional lives with newfound clarity and strength.

In recent years, well-being has entered the mainstream. There has been a surge in consumer health consciousness, with McKinsey’s Future of Wellness 2024 survey finding that 80 per cent of consumers consider wellness to be a top priority in their everyday lives. The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) estimates the value of the global wellness economy will rise from US$5.6

trillion in 2022 to US$8.47 trillion by 2027, backing these findings.

This modern definition of wellness means better health, encompassing physical, mental, social, and spiritual aspects. McKinsey’s 2022 Health Institute Survey of 4,000 employees in the GCC found that many were suffering from poor mental health and well-being alongside burnout symptoms. Poor physical health was also reported, with almost half of respondents saying that dedication to their jobs deprived them of work-life balance, including the time they could spend on their physical health, which led to insufficient sleep and unhealthy eating.

Reduced productivity and staff turnover are only some of the consequences, and at an executive level, it can have a knock-on effect on the rest of the company. This has to start at the top, and is where executive wellness comes into play. By fostering a culture that values health as much as business performance, organisations can help unlock the peak potential of their top executives and positively influence the health of the entire business.


Not any retreat will do. RAKxa, located in the green lung of Bangkok, Thailand, is a beacon of rejuvenation. Here, the latest medical science, including functional examinations, lab investigations, and antiageing treatments, converges with holistic traditions from Ayurveda to traditional Thai and Chinese medicine. It crafts transformative wellness experiences where executives embark on a journey towards wholeness, finding a balance between mind, body, and lifestyle through tailored offerings designed for them.

“At RAKxa, our focus is on hyperpersonalisation, which opens up all possibilities and enables us to develop tailored programmes and services to meet specific requirements,” says Wsinee Sukjaroenkraisri, the Vice President of Business Strategy & Programmes at RAKxa Integrative Wellness. “The starting point is always diagnostics, recognising that each individual is unique. Depending on the diagnosis, our focus may include mindfulness, dietary adjustments, or posture improvement. We always seek to address the root cause of issues.”

The team has many success stories from male and female executives, many of whom are returning clients. They may arrive booked on a programme for detox, gut health, stress management or weight loss, but these typically develop into much greater experiences. In one recent example, a businessman from the GCC required surgery, but his doctor requested that he lose weight and referred him to RAKxa. In one month, he lost two kilogrammes and increased his muscle mass phenomenally. The doctor was extremely impressed by his condition and performed the surgery. Because of his improved physical health, he had optimal recovery in a shorter period of time.

The same was true for another executive who got injured while horse riding. With the immediate availability of multiple treatments working synergistically – physiotherapy, acupuncture, stretching, and other related activities – his recovery was greatly accelerated compared to the traditional physiotherapy he would have received at home.

On average, guests from the MENA region stay two to six weeks to fully immerse themselves in the integrative retreat. These longer stays are especially important for those with medical issues who want to take advantage

of RAKxa’s immediate access to medical diagnostics and scientific wellness technologies.

One recent case involved a female executive who was suffering from high stress and was struggling to conceive, even though she was taking hormones and injections. She came to RAKxa for diagnostic analysis and personalised supplements, and integrated them with traditional Thai women’s care therapy, which includes cleansing of the reproductive system and acupuncture. Aftewards, she successfully conceived.

RAKxa strongly emphasises privacy and confidentiality, ensuring that executives seeking a retreat experience can feel at ease. Its villa designs include separate and private gardens, and the team has strict protocols regarding mobile phone usage in public spaces. Confidentiality is also upheld throughout its hospital-like environment, ensuring that only medical practitioners can access reports and records.

Attracting many guests from the MENA region, they also offer tailored experiences that cater to the region’s unique preferences and cultural sensitivities. “In the Middle East, privacy, personalisation, and cultural considerations are paramount. RAKxa

delivers on these fronts, providing an oasis where executives can focus on their wellness goals in a supportive and discreet environment,” notes Sukjaroenkraisri. This includes separate male and female facilities alongside a Halal-certified kitchen.

Integrating wellness practices seamlessly into executives’ demanding schedules is a cornerstone of RAKxa’s approach. By creating an environment conducive to relaxation and reflection, guests are empowered to disconnect from the pressures of work and reconnect with themselves. “ Our goal is for guests to incorporate the practices they learn at RAKxa into their daily lives,” says Sukjaroenkraisri.

For businesses looking to bring multiple executives, RAKxa offers personalised group packages and corporate rates, accommodating various requirements and preferences. “There are a number of treatments and experiences that can facilitate team building and cohesion among executives during their retreat experience,” explains Sukjaroenkraisri, “Physical exercises conducted with a partner are very effective in bringing out collaboration and compassion. Group mindfulness can do the same.”

In addition to the retreat experience, RAKxa offers additional services and partnerships for executives seeking holistic wellness beyond their stay, including opportunities to explore wellness offerings at other locations in Aspen and Tuscany.

As RAKxa continues to redefine the landscape of executive wellness travel, this retreat symbolises a paradigm shift in prioritising self-care, fostering resilience, and, ultimately, redefining what it means to be successful in business.

With temperatures across the world soaring, residents and tourists alike are looking towards new pastures to escape the ever-growing heatwaves – and “coolcationing” is fast becoming the new word on the tourism radar

There’s no two ways around it: the world is getting hotter. It’s not as new of a phenomenon as some might think, either – temperatures have been rising since 1850, by 0.06°C per decade. at rate has since increased, and according to climate scientists, it seems to be doing so exponentially. Since 1982, it’s been crawling up three times as

fast, with the heat soaring by 0.20°C per decade, and 2014-2023 were reported as 10 of the hottest years on record. According to scientists from Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), March 2024 was the warmest March ever recorded on a global level, and May 2024 was the most scorching May in history.

Amidst the many changes in temperatures and weather patterns

stemming from climate change –from extreme weather events and air pollution to issues surrounding everything from health to food growth and production – a trend has risen: coolcationing. Much like the portmanteaus daycationing and staycationing, this trend, as the name suggests, involves an increasing amount of people being attracted to destinations based on the weather. Or

ABOVE: The clinestled Sümela Monastery in Altındere valley in Trabzon province


to be speci c, places that o er a cool escape from the boiling seasonal heat

While the Middle East has long been known for its hot summers, the increased focus on temperatures has made room for more people to learn that not everywhere in the region is as hot as one might think. To the uninitiated, the di erence between the heat of the desert by day and how much cooler it tends to get by nightfall is already a surprise – yet even fewer have realised how much of the region is actually as refreshing as places like Europe, the US, or Asia , even in the summer months. Here are some to note.


Located on the Black Sea coast in the northeast of Türkiye, this beautiful city is surrounded by both mountain and sea. During the summers, daytime temperatures go up to 24-26°C by day and fall to 17-21°C at night. is culturally-rich destination makes for a delightfully peaceful escape. It has a fascinating heritage rife with ancient ruins, mansions, and monasteries, alongside stunning landscapes in which to enjoy outdoor activities such as mountain hiking and camping, as well as beaches that can be enjoyed with a serving of delicious seafood. e city is also famous for its tea, as one of Türkiye’s largest tea-growing regions.


While average temperatures in Oman’s capital can reach up to 40°C or more in the summer, at Jaba l Akhdar, it drops to around 24-32°C. ere are a number of properties right in the heart of the range, including the Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar and the Alila Jabal Akhdar, both of which make for a serene and rather romantic escape from not only the summer heat, but the hustle and bustle of city life, too. Here, you can go hiking, explore the local villages, partake in some via ferrata, or even do some zip-lining. e area is also famous for its Damask roses, which bloom around the green mountain in the season just before – so it’s well worth trying a spa treatment incorporating some local rosewater.


Another cooler part of Oman, Salalah is a lush area in its southern Dhofar province for which the peak season to visit is actually the summertime. e birthplace of the former Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said Al Said, Salalah is famous for its Khareef – an annual monsoon season that transforms the dry desert terrain into a verdant landscape lled with ourishing trees, seasonal waterfalls, and lush valleys. e season takes place from June to September, with temperatures running between 24-32°C. When you’re not enjoying the scenery (where you can even go kayaking!) you can visit the nearby Frankincense Land Museum to learn more about the country’s mystical, fragrant resin that is exported across the world as a luxury item.

TOP: Small rural villages situated on the Saiq Plateau at Jabal Akhdar mountain in Oman
ABOVE: Wadi Dharbat, Salalah, Oman
LEFT FROM TOP: Frankincense and Damask roses are two of Oman’s best exports; Trabzon’s hills are known for its plantations of Türkiye’s famous tea



Graubünden, Switzerland

Known for its alpine grandeur, this canton offers chances to explore the Swiss National Park, explore Jacobshorn Mountain, take a cable car up Piz Nair, look over tranquil mountain lakes in the picturesque Engadine Valley, and even go hiking with llamas. You can go horse-riding, paragliding, fly-fishing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, or kick back in one of its spa towns and healing thermal baths – then refuel at Michelin-starred dining venues in St. Moritz. Summer climes run from 22-23°C by day, and 10-11°C by night.

South Coast, Iceland

Iceland’s Midnight Sun never fully sets, and average summer temperatures run between 10-13°C. It’s a great time to visit the glacial Jökulsárlón lake, or Diamond Beach and Reynisfiara Black Sand Beach. The former ’s gleaming shards of ice sparkle like diamonds, while the latter boasts dramatic vistas of volcanic ash, jagged rock formations, and curious sea caves that look otherworldly when lit up with its glowing painted sunsets. Want more? Explore The Golden Circle, a route that covers three of the country’s most famous natural attractions

Scottish Highlands, the British Isles

This part of Scotland can get blisteringly cold during the winter, but in summer, temperatures can reach a comfortable 17°C. This vast area runs over more than 11,000 sq mi abundant with natural beauty. Some famous spots include Loch Ness, the Isle of Skye, Inverness, Glen Coe, and the Jacobite Steam Train – recogniseable to many as the Hogwarts Express from the film series based off of J.K. Rowling’s seminal Harry Potter series. Visit a castle or two, enjoy a pint, and take in the magnificent panoramas for a holiday to remember.


In the winter, Mzaar Kfardebian –formerly known as Faraya Mzaar – is beloved as the country’s largest ski resort. But in the summer, the area transforms into a nature-lover’s haven just one hour away from Beirut The snow melts and gives way to green mountains wonderful for hiking and mountain biking on, ATV and 4x4 drives, paragliding, and plenty more, with the crisp air warming up to 2528°C by day and still keeping guests snuggling up cozily at night with lows of 9-12°C.


During summer, temperatures in Jeddah and Riyadh can rise to 37-43°C, but the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is so vast that in the southwest of the country, summer climes can feel considerably different. In addition to boasting the highest peaks in the country, the Aseer province receives more rainfall than the rest of the country, and in the summer, this area generally reports a comparative 26-29°C. While it can get quite warm in the midday hours, early mornings and late nights can be foggy and even feel somewhat frosty. The province extends all the way to the Red Sea coast, where a number of the high-end properties are already

open – and visitors can snorkel, dive, and enjoy a wide range of refreshing motorised and non-motorised watersports (not to mention thriving marine and coral life). If mountains are more your speed, there are plenty of craggy nooks to explore. In Abha, the Aseer National Park and Shada Castle are popular haunts, while in Al Habala and Al Namas, you’ll find waterfalls, mountain trails, small local villages with hand-made art and tribal handicrafts to peruse, and even a museum and palace. Known as “The Arabian Highlands”, more than US$13 million has been invested into the development of the area, with the mega-project to be a major draw in the country’s Vision 2030 plans.

FROM TOP: Scenic view of the pass in the mountainous region of Mzaar Kfardebian; Rijal Almaa village in Aseer, Saudi Arabia

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Daphne Strapless Maxi Dress Dhs1,450 CALA DE LA CRUZ,

Le Bob Artichaut Dhs595 JACQUEMUS,

Bonnie Bikini

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Ready, SummerSet, Summer

From see-and-be-seen destinations to off-grid escapes, here are all the beachready wardrobe essentials for you to pack


Oversized Sling Ra ia Bag

Dhs475 COS,

Aviator-Style Tortoiseshell

Sunglasses Dhs1,197 TOM FORD EYEWEAR,

Erin Organic Cotton Terry Towel Dhs405 BAINA,

35mm Rubber Watch POA TAG HEUER | KITH,

Arizona Suede Sandals Dhs630 BIRKENSTOCK,

Feel-Good Finds

Heal your spirit from the inside out with hand-picked wellness-focused wonders designed for holistic comfort


Bio-Active Collagen Gel, Dhs295, HEALTH NAG,

Scented Candles, Dhs145 each, AERY LIVING,

Amethyst-Infused Gratitude Water Bottle, Dhs199, MAISON ETHERIQUE,

Face Oil for Hydration and De-Stress, Dhs495, JUANA SKIN,

Seven Eau de Parfum, £155, KINTSUGI – FIND YOUR FREQUENCY,

Home Blessing Kit, Dhs239, MAISON ETHERIQUE,

the eport


Vida Creek Beach

BACKGROUND Part of the homegrown Vida Hotels brand, Vida Creek Beach is an upscale hotel with art deco elements set against playful colours and textures throughout. Set on the side of Dubai Creek Harbour that has little tra ic, the hotel o ers lovely views of the canal and a man-made crystal lagoon.

WHERE IS IT? Located in the tranquil Dubai Creek Harbour, Vida Creek Beach is a short 15-minute drive away from Dubai International Airport, making it a perfect destination for a quick stopover or a staycation.

ROOMS With 99 rooms and suites available, the hotel hosts a selection of deluxe and premier rooms with views of the lagoon and/or skyline. The hotel also has a lagoon suite, o ering views of the crystal lagoon and canal. Contemporary luxury at its best, the hotel’s warm European-style interiors also translate to the rooms complete with a flat-screen TV, generous wardrobe space and plush beds, with art dotted around without being too overwhelming. Sustainable and eco-friendly toiletries feature in a well-sized bathroom. A notepad sits by the bedside table to jot down when inspiration strikes; of which you will have plenty, given the views. The desks are comfortable enough for Zoom calls or a sit-down writing session.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Right from the valet parking and all the way to the rooms, the atmosphere at Vida Creek Beach emanates warmth and a relaxing environment. Rich corals, velvety greens, and peachy hues

against gold trimmings and light wooden tones in the interiors are juxtaposed against tasteful art and objets. The overall e ect creates a sense of creativity, artistry, and flair often missed out by hotels of this size. The sta are friendly and helpful. The hotel rooms are airy and comfortable, coming with great skyline or lagoon views, (or both), depending on the type of room. Excellent wifi connectivity is available throughout the property – and Stage 2 provides a cosy, yet formal co-working atmosphere equipped with Macbooks and charging stations for professional use. The Courtyard restaurant, which centres the property, o ers a comfortable atmosphere to dine in at any time of the year.

The main draw is their manmade crystal lagoon, giving a sense of barefoot luxury

FOOD AND DRINK The Courtyard o ers a welcoming environment with its Mediterranean style décor. It o ers a wide array of cuisines, from burgers to shish tawook; however, the Arabic menu is where it shines the most. Don’t miss the smoky chermoula hummus and fresh grilled sea bass served with a lemon sauce that will ignite your tastebuds. While it’s a great place to catch the latest football match, it does happen to be indoor-smoke friendly as they o er a selection of shisha. The Float beach lounge and Origins provide a more


An elevated staycation or stopover


The crystal lagoon with a swim-up bar, and The Courtyard’s chermoula hummus


family-friendly atmosphere. If you have any dietary requirements, the sta are happy to accommodate and common allergens are clearly marked out on the menus, taking the stress out of those of us with dietary challenges.

A one-night stay in a Deluxe King room starts from Dhs450 per night


Dubai Creek Harbour, Ras Al Khor Road, Dubai, UAE; +971 4 542 8888;

The breakfast at Origins is simply delightful, with a wide range of options to choose from a bu et, ranging from delectable pastries to wholesome oatmeal. An additional à la carte menu is provided if you prefer a freshlyprepared dish ranging from eggs Benedict to French toast. U By Emaar card holders also stand to benefit from a discount.

MEETINGS For more casual work meetings, you can head on to Stage 2 that serves excellent co ee and o ers a quiet atmosphere to work on the go. The hotel hosts two meeting rooms: a smaller one of 334 square feet, and a larger one that is 1,292 square feet. Features include a city view balcony and soundproof walls. The access to these rooms is through a wellstaged foyer with seating areas and co ee table books galore.

LEISURE Vida Creek Beach hosts a full-fledged gym and swimming pool on the podium level, but the main draw is their man-made crystal lagoon, with waves that lap against the artificially-constructed beach, giving a sense of barefoot luxury against the sashaying palms. The swimup bar and Float beach lounge are great places to get a quick bite.

VERDICT An excellent choice for those looking for an a ordable yet stylish tranquil retreat in a newer part of town, away from the city’s pomp and splendour. Aneesha Rai

Atlantis, The Royal

BACKGROUND Launched with an opening party that made global headlines with its star-studded list of celebrity guests – and an invite-only concert by pop superstar Beyoncé – this sophisticated new sibling of Atlantis, The Palm describes itself as one of Dubai’s newest icons, and the most ultra-luxury experiential resort in the world. A Kerzner International hotel, it was designed by renowned architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, in a unique 500m-long, 178m-tall building-block-style set of towers inspired by the idea of deconstructing the sculptural skyscrapers that make up most of Dubai’s skyline. Promising a stay that serves up equal amounts of fun and comfort – all with jaw-dropping views – it’s here to “redefine your perspective of luxury”.

WHERE IS IT? Just past Atlantis, The Palm on The Palm Jumeirah’s Crescent Road, it’s a 30-40 minute drive from Dubai International Airport and a half-hour-or-less cab ride away from other major sights in the city. The proximity of the two resorts allows for a very interconnected stay should you wish.

ROOMS With 795 spacious rooms, suites, and penthouses going up to 43 stories high, one of the most arresting things about each one is the epic sweeping views of the Palm or the sea beyond. Like the rest of the hotel (from the moment you step into the foyer), you’ll notice a strong oceanic theme that’s quite soothing. Furnishings are elegant, with hand-switched mattresses by Hypnos. Each room boasts more than your run-of-the-mill level of convenience: everything is provided,

from charging cables you can plug directly into one of the many USB ports, a desk with two chairs, seating area, good-sized balcony, smart TV, and flu y Frette bathrobes in the walk-in wardrobe, to a luxurious goldbedecked full-stack bespoke Gra amenity kit (toothbrushes, comb, toothpaste, vanity set, razors, hairdryer, back scrubber, and more) facing a lush free-standing tub.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? As you’d expect from its royal title, everything here feels palatial – that is to say, large, grand, and very extra. The lobby is enormous, and the boutiques (which there are enough of to feel like a mini galleria, o ering fashion, interiors, art, and more) are ultra high-end. There are multiple pools and fountains, and a plethora of great restaurants. There’s always something going on, too. Yet each individual experience feels surprisingly calm, with all of its largesse never su ering from a factory-like feel.

FOOD AND DRINK This is where the property truly shines: it’s a foodie’s dream.

There are 17 places to eat, eight of them a iliated with celebrity chefs including Ariana’s Persian Kitchen, Jaleo Dubai by José Andrés, Nobu by the Beach, Little Venice Cake Company, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Ling Ling Dubai, and La Mar by Gastón Acurio. The latter three are especially outstanding, but if you have room for more, Malibu 90265’s luxe California diner burgers and milkshakes are a delightful casual treat.

MEETINGS The hotel has an entire “Business District” on its Galleria Level, with six meetings rooms, a lounge, and safety deposit box. It also o ers multiple private dining facilities, and the multi-functional Diamond Ballroom for up to 1,000 guests.

It’s a foodie’s dream – of its 17 places to eat, eight of them are concepts by celebrity chefs

LEISURE All stays at Atlantis, The Royal include daily complementary access to Atlantis, The Palm’s Aquaventure (one day’s access per each night’s stay) plus unlimited access to The Lost Chambers aquarium. At the resort itself, there are three pool options, and the ultra-chic Cloud 22: an iconic sky-high infinity pool 22 floors up. You can also swim with sharks at the Ambassador Lagoon, or watch the Skyblaze Fountain show every night. For well-being, Awaken Wellness is a dream with blissful massages, wet room facilities, and a meditation garden – to enjoy before you get styled in the in-house salon.

VERDICT Go for the food, stay for the fun. Truly one of the most immersive escapes in town – you’ll never be bored here and will still want to return for more. Yi-Hwa Hanna

BEST FOR The ultimate staycation


Every type of baked good you could dream of at Gastronomy’s breakfast bu et PRICE

A one-night stay in a Seascape King room starts from Dhs1,755 CONTACT

Crescent Road, The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai. +971 4 426 3000;

Jumeirah Capri Palace

BACKGROUND A long-revered island treasure, the rich and the famous have been flocking to Capri Palace since the 1960s. Since joining the Jumeirah portfolio, the hotel has been enhanced with the brand’s signature touches, including new restaurants and upgraded communal spaces.

LOCATION In Anacapri, the sleepier village alternative to bustling Capri Town, Jumeirah Capri Palace sits pretty on a hilltop. A winding path of perfectly landscaped gardens, dotted with swaying palms and purple bougainvillea, leads you up from Piazza Vittoria (Anacapri’s main square) to the distinct façade of Jumeirah Capri Palace.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Dubbed the white museum, it’s gloriously grand but in an understated way. Its vast columns, and whitewashed welcome spaces are flooded with natural light, with glamorous, never gaudy, bold artworks and lavish floral displays. It’s impossible to decline a welcome glass of homemade lemonade as you’re taken on a tour of the property by the smiling reception team.

ROOMS The 68 guest rooms, each one a sanctuary of contemporary island-inspired luxury, come with either sea or garden views. The hotel’s storied history is proudly played out across the walls in black and white photographs from the island’s yesteryear, and handmade ceramic tiles in patterns of white and blue ooze that quintessential southern Italian aesthetic. The room is enveloped in Frette linens, and the sunken tub with a window that faces the Bay of Naples in the sea-facing Executive Suite is a befittingly regal touch.

FOOD AND DRINK The culinary o ering is a fusion of the old and new. The rooftop has been transformed into a chic Japanese izakaya, with the influence of global powerhouse Zuma drawing guests from across the island. But the culinary jewel in the crown remains L’Olivo, the island’s only two-Michelin Star restaurant. Dining here feels like starring in your own Hollywood movie, thanks to the sorbet-hued sunset, expert sta suited up in crisp white linens, and the sounds of melodic piano renditions of dreamy pop songs. Guests can sip on glasses of bubbly served from a sparkling trolley, and embark on multi-course tasting menus that include dishes like a delicate cube of tuna belly with jalapeño and bu alo yoghurt, a tender lamb join with ginger scented sweetbread, and impossibly light chocolate sou lé.

The rich and the famous have been ocking to Capri Palace since the 1960s

A ten-minute shuttle from the hotel, the famed – and very Instagram-friendly, thanks to its collaboration with Dior – ll Riccio beach club and restaurant also forms part of the hotel’s culinary o ering. But this cli top restaurant – set next to and above the famed Blue Grotto – doesn’t rest on the laurels of its high-fashion décor. Its refreshing cocktails are best enjoyed in the lounge, peppered with day beds and bar stools that make the most of the sea views. Then there’s the nautically inspired restaurant, in endless shades of white and blue, complete with seafood-focused dishes such as a delicate caviar-topped scallop millefeuille and a generous plate of lobster pasta.

MEETINGS The hotel is more leisure -driven, but spaces in

the lobby and restaurants can be privatised for events or meetings.

LEISURE There’s a lush, tropical feel in the expansive sea-facing garden, where burnt orange loungers surround the temperature-controlled swimming pool, its floor tiled in shades of turquoise and aquamarine, laced with mother of pearl – the work of Italian artist Velasco Vitali. It’s also ever-present at the Capri Medical Spa, the hotel’s unique well-being space that has become a renowned destination in Capri in its own right. The home of the hotel’s patented ‘Leg School’ treatment (Dhs750), developed over 25 years by the late Professor Francesco Canonaco, is a multi-step treatment designed to oxygenate tissue and improve circulation, as well as o ering a whole host of other health benefits. It starts with the application of a clay mud from volcanic Ischia, infused with 26 medical plants, followed by wrapping with cold bandages. To finish, you’ll walk ten times briskly through a hot water channel (set at 38°C), then patiently stroll through a refreshing 18°C cold channel.

VERDICT This hotel oozes wowfactor from start to finish, matched by a glamorous culinary o ering and intuitive service. Alice Holtham

BEST FOR Experiencing a grand dame on the luxury European hotel scene.

DON’T MISS Il Riccio’s ‘Temptation Room’, with quintessential Italian desserts.


A one-night stay in a Classic Garden Room starts from Dhs4,821

CONTACT Via Capodimonte 14, 80071, Anacapri, Italy;

Carna by Dario Cecchini

BACKGROUND A celebrity chef that could also be described as a celebrity butcher (you’d be surprised at how many celebrities started their career as butchers – and not just among chefs!), Cecchini was born in the Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy, in a village called Panzano. His father was a butcher, and so was his father before him. Cecchini had been studying to become a vet, but when his father became ill, he left his studies at the university of Pisa to take over the family business in 1976. Since then, he has become a world-renowned chef that has appeared on TV shows including Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and Netflix’s Chefs Table, with restaurants across the world – all the while marrying his veterinary science background with his love for cooking through a nose-to-tail approach, wherein he believes that in order to eat the animal, we should respect it by giving it a good life and a dignified death, and making sure that every part of it is used well.

THE VENUE You will be immediately be drawn to the stunning view of Dubai from the floor-to-ceiling windows. It’s on the 74th floor of the SLS Dubai Hotel & Residences, and you’ll instantly feel a world away from the noise of the city. The restaurant isn’t too big, and with velvet-dressed seating, booth-style tables, and glowing chandeliers accented by greenery, it strikes a beautiful balance between luxury and coziness.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? There is something surprisingly intimate about this space that lends itself well to deep and soulful


6.30pm to 1am daily


74th Floor, SLS Dubai Hotel & Residences


+971 4 607 0737;

If you’re a meat-lover looking for a place that makes you feel well and truly fed, this is it

conversations shared over hearty food, and the feeling that you’re in a beloved local restaurant in a small, warm village. Except it’s also clearly worthy of its five-star status. Whether you’re enjoying a meal with friends or family, on a date night, or there to grab a drink by the whisky bar before purchasing some take-home meat or olive oil to cook with at home, this is the type of fine dining spot that you won’t just want to come to on the sporadic special occasion, but also as a repeat visitor.

FOOD AND DRINKS Our meal was served family-style, with all of the dishes placed in the centre for sharing, adding to the intimate vibe. For starters, the croquettes (Dhs80) are a must-try, for which the crisp (but not greasy) exterior housed a blend of seared beef, smoked mayo, and a hint of orange. It’s a perfect introduction to Cecchini’s determination to use every part of the animal in a creative and elevated way. If you’re after something creamy, the burrata (Dhs110) – served with tru le honey, grilled carrots, pumpkin, figs, and crackly sourdough crisps –will hit the spot, but the grilled lettuce salad (Dhs95) was a revelation. Not something we would typically have ordered based on the name alone, this plate of crunchy baby gem

lettuce dressed with crispy parmigiano and shallots and tru le honey dressing was a texture-filled flavour bomb that was so good we would happily eat it every day. Although there is a non-beef selection on the menu (including chicken, lamb, sea bass, and octopus), we simply had to try Cecchini’s famous Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Dhs90). Infused with your choice of whisky or butter, these thick, juicy, tender pieces of beef – dry-aged for 21 days – were undoubtably (and perhaps unsurprisingly) the highlight of the meal. Rich without being fatty, and served with chimichurri sauce and just the right amount of chunky chips and grilled vegetables to complement the meal while still keeping the focus firmly on the beef, we kept reaching for more. By the time dessert arrived, we were all stu ed – but we simply had to make room for Dario’s olive oil cake. Served familystyle, from a shared full cake plate that the waiter cuts the slices from to serve to each person at the table, it is surprisingly light and not too sweet – yet still feels like an indulgent and almost festive treat thanks to its smattering of chopped oranges, winesoaked raisins, and pine nuts.

SERVICE Friendly and welcoming with not a hint of snobbery, the sta here take a lot of care to ensure that you understand the restaurant’s philosophy, while also having any dietary needs respected (e.g. being gluten-free). The family-style vibe is reflected in the exuberant (albeit perhaps a little shocking at first!) trumpet-blowing, wherein the chef and his team rush around blowing a horn, chanting “Dario!” to rounds of applause and joyful laughter.

VERDICT High-end steakhouses may be plentiful in Dubai (as are those from celebrity chefs), but if you’re a meat-lover looking for one that makes you feel well and truly fed – both gastronomically and in terms of your spirit – this one is well worth putting on your list.


Our guide to…

Dubai’s best hotel gyms

In an era where wellness has seemingly permeated every aspect of our lives from our nutrition to our homes and beyond, the hotel gym is no longer an oftenforgotten corner of the property. With the demand for boutique fitness concepts having boomed in the last decade, and wider aspects of well-being increasingly being integrated alongside fitness o erings, the luxury gym and health club experience is now more valued than ever. From cutting-edge equipment and tailored training programmes to meditation, yoga, and more, these Dubai-based hotel gyms and health clubs are well worth a look.

Siro One Za’abeel

With the brand touting itself as the ultimate hotel for an active lifestyle in the heart of Dubai, it should come as no surprise that the gym and health facilities here are second to none. Designed to be an all-in-one wellness destination, the Fitness and Recovery Lab here was developed with input from world-class athletes, and o ers everything from personal training and group workouts to therapeutic treatments such as assisted stretching, dry needling, and cold plunges. If that’s not enough, the hotel even o ers a dedicated Fitness Suite and Recovery Suite, with an in-room active workout area and multiple

features designed for optimising sleep, respectively. The gym is open to hotel guests and members, with di erent tiers available.

Zabeel House, The Greens

Available to both in-house guests and UAE residents (with a variety of membership packages), The Native Club has a fullyequipped indoor gym as well an outdoor functional training area with all of the equipment a CrossFit enthusiast could hope for. Runners can enjoy a 40m sprint track, while racket sport players can take advantage of the Padel Tennis Courts managed by the Spanish Padel Academy. It’s also connected to the Native Club Spa, which is the first organic spa in Dubai.

Jumeirah Beach Hotel

Jumeirah’s J Club is designed to holistically bring together high-end fitness, leisure, spa, and wellness facilities. This outpost boasts personal training; group fitness classes; tennis, squash, and padel facilities; an indoor gym; outdoor training area; a 25m lap pool; multiple types of boxing bags and modern exercise machines and equipment; a private beach; a kids club; wet room facilities; and more.

Membership includes discounts across F&B in Jumeirah restaurants and Talise Spa services, as well as a complimentary night’s stay with breakfast at select Jumeirah hotels.

Meliá Desert Palm

This equestrian-themed hotel is located on a 64-hectare polo estate, and its Stables Fitness Center overlooks its lush polo fields. Equipped with the latest Technogym equipment, the gym o ers qualified personal training sessions, group classes, and spiritual wellness retreats. Guests can also connect with nature in yoga sessions that allow them to take in the fresh air and greenery, trot over to the polo and horse-riding school, or relax at the spa.

InterContinental Residence Suites

Dubai Festival City

The 24-hour gym at this waterfront destination has an indoor 20m temperature-controlled indoor lap pool, a children’s splash pool, a spa pool, and a sun deck – and when you’re looking to get your sweat on, it has all of the latest cardio and strength-training equipment and machines needed to work every part of your body, including a Kinesis Wall.

The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina

Westin properties are known for their deep dedication to wellness, from their trailblazing Heavenly Bed range to their gear-lending programme, which allows guests to borrow or rent items such as yoga mats, resistance bands, bangle weights, massage recovery guns for use as needed – with the idea being to help them stay active but travel light. In fact, in the early 2010s, they even pioneered a scheme of tying up with global fitness brands to lend workout clothes and running shoes to guests for the same reason. At this property, Club Mina and the WestinWORKOUT Fitness

Studio o er a full range of cardio and strengthtraining machines that are available to guests 24/7, plus sauna and steam room access, as well as a range of fitness classes.

Fairmont The Palm Watersports-lovers take note: not only does this property have multiple pools – eight, to be exact – and an 800m private beach, but you can also take advantage of a whole host of water-based activities here, from stand-up paddleboarding (both manual and electric) and kayaking to yacht and boat cruises, jetski guided tours, and aqua-spinning classes that allow guests to pedal on stationary spinning bikes while semi-submerged in water for a low-impact, buoyant, and cool workout. The health club is also fully equipped with specialised equipment for indoor gym sessions, with personal trainers on hand if needed, and the chance to utilise the Kids Club, or unwind in the Willow Stream Spa.

The Retreat Palm Dubai, MGallery by Sofitel

Proclaimed to be “the first and, so far, only five-star wellness resort in the UAE”, this place boasts a dedicated in-house wellness team, alongside a range of personalised retreats, healthy meals, and a wide range of well-being products and fitness o erings. The Rayya Wellness retreat is designed to holistically cover physical vitality, inner peace, and emotional healing alike, through combined as well as separate ultra-modern women’s and men’s gyms, personal training packages, fitness nutrition consultancy, body transformation programmes, a range of land- and water-based sports activities, and multiple recovery options – from cryotherapy and oxygen therapy to singing bowl meditation, and Tai Chi.

Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah

The Fitness Centre and Movement Studio at this hotel not only o ers stunning sea views, but the space itself is beautiful too. They have more than 35 state-of-the-art Technogym cardio and strength machines across their 4,000 sqft fitness centre; a high-performance functional area that includes an Omnia 3, SkillRow, and SkillMill self-powered treadmill; and a 1,500 sqft movement studio with a fully-adaptable Outrace functional training rig. Support is available through personal trainers or via access to the Technogym MyWellness digital app, as well as fitness assessment testing, and a variety of classes such as boxing (skills and conditioning alike), beach blaster bootcamps from October to May each year, and fitness dance classes covering hip-hop, latin, and street dance styles. There’s also a beautiful

paddle court for all ages, and a martial arts academy specifically for kids and teens.

Atlantis, The Royal

Much like the rest of the hotel, the AWAKEN Fitness centre is an experiential treasure that brings together mind, body, and spirit in a very holistic way. The gym is equipped with topnotch Technogym and Outrace equipment (including boxing facilities), and their fitness studio can host both live training and virtual classes conducted in partnership with LVL Wellbeing. There’s also a mindfulness pavilion, a meditation garden, and a 25m lap pool. They o er everything from personal training and spinning to pilates, yoga, reiki energy therapy, sound healing meditation, body composition testing, aquatic fitness classes, and IV Therapy. When you’re ready to recover, the interconnected spa o ers deep tissue and lymphatic massage to soothe sore muscles.

Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre

For a stay near Dubai International Airport, this hotel gym will have you covered. At its Optimal Fitness by Natural Elements gym, you’ll find the latest Matrix cardio equipment, Life Fitness strength equipment, a wide variety of functional training equipment (including boxing facilities), and group classes on yoga, kickboxing, Zumba, dance aerobics, step and abs, boxfit, Tabata, circuit training, or bootcamp-style workouts. The property also has several pools, including a spa pool, and another you can swim laps in.

Royal-Standard Romance

Nestled on the island of One Million Palms – an island known for its outstanding natural beauty and serenity –the recently-opened Raffles Al Areen Palace Bahrain has positioned itself as a property that sets a new standard for luxurious romantic escapes in the kingdom. Promising guests unrivalled exclusivity and privacy, it boasts 78 private pool hideaways for a discreet getaway surrounded by views of the property’s tropical gardens. Couples are encouraged to savour sweet treats at the in-house Parisian patisserie, learn about Bahrain’s pearl diving past through the resort’s architecture (which was inspired by the country’s history), or take advantage of the private butler service that can accommodate them with practically anything they wish. The service can involve the setup of romantic decorations, or tailored meal options including floating breakfasts, in-villa private chef barbeques, farm-to-table organic garden tastings, and more. For active folk looking to make new activity-led memories, experiences including date harvesting, garden rituals, herbal workshops, tree planning, basket weaving, and garden cooking can be arranged. When it’s time to unwind, the Wellness Villa is ready to welcome guests as a private oasis replete with water features, lush greenery, a spa bath, an outdoor deck for yoga and meditation, couples treatments rooms, and more – so they can truly disconnect from the noise of everyday life, and reconnect with each other instead.

Discover more this SUMMER

From charming coastal towns with picture-perfect sunsets to alfresco dining in lively evening atmospheres, our amazing summer destinations are waiting to make your next trip simply perfect.

Discover Batumi, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Mykonos, Santorini and many more for an unforgettable summer.

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