Health Club at Ritz Carlton Hotel, Doha, Qatar

Indoor tennis courts
Indoor air-conditioned tennis courts

Health clubs in hotels are expensive in Qatar. They usually cost above US$6000 a year in membership fees. Despite the hefty prices, memberships are still extremely popular as it provides a useful getaway for a day of sporting activity, spa treatment, relaxation and some good food and wine for expatriates who are able to afford the fees.

A friend of mine is a member of the health spa club in Ritz Carlton Hotel, Qatar. One day, she invited me to spend a weekend day with her at the club. I was glad to accept her invitation without hesitation.

The Ritz Carlton Hotel is located at the edge of Doha, the main city of Qatar. It is located very close to The Pearl, a spectacular luxury residential, commercial and marina development that has recently risen out of the Persian Gulf in the shape of a palm leaf . The spa club is located on the ground floor the Ritz Carlton hotel.

We first registered at the reception counter and then made our way to the changing room. Located within the changing room is a sauna, steam room and relaxation corner. We then made our way out and my friend offered to show me the various sporting facilities.

There is an indoor squash court, 2 indoor tennis courts and a fully equipped gym – all in air-conditioned comfort. I’m really impressed… many health clubs in the hotels in Qatar has good facilities but I believe Ritz Carlton has the best sporting facilities. I believe they are very popular because the whole time I was there, the courts were fully occupied.

We then made our way to the indoor, temperature-controlled swimming pool.

I really like the pool. Most hotel pools in Qatar are free-form pools but this pool is a full 25m lap pool. It even has lane markers so one can swim laps in peace and not be knocked into by casual swimmers or kids all the time. We spent sometime doing laps in the pool.

We then made our way to the outdoor free-form pool which is located just beside the indoor pool to sun-tan and enjoy some beverages. As a member, we are entitled to a 10% discount.

We were deliberating to ourselves whether we should get a massage. The spa has a good choice of facial and massage treatments and as a member, we are again entitled to a 10% discount on massage treatments. Before we could decide, a call came in and we were invited for dinner with friends and massage plans will have to be postponed.

I can see why health clubs in hotels are popular. There are not much leisure activities in Qatar and the hot weather prevent one from spending a lot of time outdoors. One cannot simply spend time in shopping malls all the time and health clubs in hotels are really an oasis of sporting and leisure activity to escape from the outside busy traffic, harsh heat and fine sand.

I think I’ll really need to examine my budget and see if I can find a budget-price health club membership if I need to spend any more time in Qatar. Otherwise, I may need to talk to my boss about a pay increment…

Pix credit: http://hotels.lonelyplanet.com

Location of Ritz Carlton Health Spa Club PO Box 23400, Doha, Qatar
Size: Large indoor club
Facilities: Sauna and steam rooms, private massage treatment rooms, tennis and squash courts, indoor and outdoor pool, gymnasium, workout studio
Friendliness: Polite and helpful
Pricing: Annual membership starts at US$5500

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Review: Chinese Health Corner, Qatar

Pressure pointsI’ve been spending more and more time in Doha, Qatar. The weather is hot and the air is always dusty. There is not much to do in terms of after-work entertainment and there are minimal choices for Asian food as well. I needed to find some comfort of home whenever I spend anytime here… such as a familiar spa or massage.

I’ve checked out a number of hotel spas. Believe me, they are very expensive. Just like most things in Qatar. Expensive. Even a simple Chinese foot massage cost US$65 and above in a hotel. I couldn’t afford to have one.

One day, while driving past the Landmark shopping mall, I saw a building decorated with red Chinese lanterns. That means possibly a Chinese restaurant, a Chinese Traditional Medical Hall or a Chinese Massage Palor. I drove closer for a look and true enough, two buildings side by side which says Chinese Health Corner and Hong Kong Beauty Salon.

I entered the building. A Chinese lady greeted me and passed me a brochure. I was right. It’s a beauty salon cum massage palor. Services such as foot massage, back massage, ear candling, sauna and steam bath, body massage, volcanic rock massage, pedicure, manicure and facial beauty treatments were offered. Traditional Chinese massage, cupping and Tuina were also offered.

The interior decor is typically that of what you’ll find in a massage palor in mainland China with posters of foot reflexology charts and body acupressure points charts. The staff and therapists are all from mainland China and most speaks a smattering of English only.

There is a public lounge area for foot massage. There are 6 comfortable chairs and flat-screen TVs and amazingly, a 45 mins foot massage starts at US$18 only. This must be the cheapest foot massage in Qatar; and even cheaper than similar treatments in Singapore as well!

You can have body massage or facial treatments in private rooms. These private rooms are relative large and comes with a treatment bed, arm-chair and a flat-screen TV as well. Very much like private treatment rooms in mainland China.

I opted for a foot massage. I wanted to gauge the quality of their service and treatment before I decide if this can become a regular place for me. The prices they posted are certainly attractive but I wanted to ensure quality of treatment and service does not suffer because of the lower prices.

My therapist is from Shenyang in North-East China. Apparently, the boss is also a mainland Chinese from Shenyang as well and he has 2 other similar outfits in different parts of Doha, with the Landmark branch being the latest addition. According to my therapist, most of the clients are local Qataris with some expatriates. There are hardly any Chinese clients.

The foot massage started with a 10 minutes soak in a tub of hot water and the quality of the foot massage was pretty good; as good as what I can get in mainland China. This augurs well for me because it means I now have a place that I can relax in whenever I am in Qatar.

Note: The buildings are located slightly after the carpark exit of Landmark Shopping Mall. If you come with a companion of the opposite sex, treatment is segregated and you can only meet after treatment.

Diagram credit: http://www.kheper.net

Location of Chinese Health Corner/Hong Kong Beauty Salon PO Box 30183, Doha, Qatar (Behind Landmark Shopping Mall)
Size: Two buildings side by side. One for men only and one for ladies only
Facilities:
Sauna and herbal steam rooms, foot massage lounge, private treatment rooms
Friendliness: Polite but speaks minimal English
Pricing: Starts from US$18 for a foot massage in the foot massage lounge. Massage starts at US$30 in a private room. Pedicure and manicure starts at US$20.

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