How the founder of ZOYA Health & Wellbeing Resort, Ameer Said has created an immersive wellness experience with a holistic approach in the UAE.
Talk us through your career.
I built my career in corporate business development, working for renowned Saudi companies including Saudi Binladen Group and SOOJ International for Development of Economic Cities. I took everything I built throughout my 30 years of experience and focused it on my passion – health and wellness.
ZOYA Health & Wellbeing Resort is the region’s first fully integrated experience. What inspired you to launch it?
After losing my wife and sister to a long battle with cancer and witnessing my mother’s suffering and struggles to perform daily functions in her last years, I recognised the need for prevention over cure. Hence, ZOYA was born out of a determination to address the ailments of the modern world, and to create a special place that protects, nourishes, and invigorates the mind, body, and soul.
The retreat has a 360-degree focus on the body, mind and soul. Why was it important to incorporate all three?
The journey towards peace, balance, and rejuvenation comes with focusing on all elements of our being. Unfortunately, we are always more focused on physical health and well-being and tend to forget that without a healthy mind and soul, we cannot transcend into a state of wellness. At ZOYA, we combine unique cutting-edge medical science, physiotherapy, conscious nutrition, and the latest advances in aesthetics to nourish the body and invigorate the mind. Our methods are non-toxic, non-invasive, drug-free, integrative, and holistic – we offer various treatments to create bespoke well-being retreat journeys.
Oxygen therapy sessions are growing in popularity – tell us more.
Oxygen therapy is an all-natural treatment that facilitates and optimises the oxygen utilisation of cells and tissues. It improves circulation and reduces heart rate while enhancing physical performance. It also regulates the autonomic nervous system, helps maintain the shorter resting pulse, and aids recovery after exertion by reducing lactic acid build-up. These treatments help with muscle tension, accelerate the healing of wounds and injuries, skin rejuvenation for younger-looking skin, and improve mental wellbeing by boosting relaxation and balance. Our goal is health optimisation; therefore, we offer oxygen therapy sessions as part of all our retreat programmes, where a dedicated team of medical and wellbeing experts will guide guests and provide them with the best-personalised programmes for their healing journey after a detailed health assessment.
How does medical wellness seamlessly fit into this wellness retreat?
Medical wellness is infused within our guest journey. Guests’ experience at ZOYA starts with a doctor’s consultation, diagnostics, a detailed wellness consultation, and a nutrition plan selection based on each guest’s needs and requirements to ultimately create a personalised weekly programme to achieve optimal levels of physical and mental wellbeing. We believe that tangible health and wellbeing require knowledge and expertise. At ZOYA, we have a team of professional specialists, from visionaries to doctors, and therapists, who combine their expertise to create individually customised well-being plans suitable for everyone.
The resort offers a therapeutic culinary experience – can you elaborate on this?
ZOYA offers various holistic therapeutic fasting, calorie control, detox, and vegan meal plans based on proven benefits, that look beyond the body to provide support and everlasting benefits for the mind and spirit. We only use organic, fresh, and seasonal ingredients at our wellness restaurant and juice bar, where we have adopted a strict clean food policy that turns superb ingredients into therapeutic meals and fine-dining experiences.
For those planning their first-ever wellness retreat, what tips would you recommend to prepare for the experience?
Come with trust and an open mind. Our goal is to ensure that our guests leave our resort relaxed, balanced, and rejuvenated with the expert guidance of our health professionals. We have designed our retreat programmes to aid guests in protecting, nourishing, and invigorating their minds, bodies, and souls. While a one-time visit will definitely help, we do recommend that our guests make a habit of wellness visits in order to commit to their wellbeing and transform their lives.
How has COVID-19 affected the wellness industry on a larger scale?
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, overall patterns have changed significantly, bringing health and wellness to the majority of people’s top of minds, regardless of their health conditions. This has resulted in the need to maintain physical and mental well-being, driving people to seek holistic approaches to health, which in turn will only continue to boost the global wellness tourism market. With that being said, the wellness industry is vast, consisting of quite diverse offerings, from spiritual to physical practices to improve overall health and well-being. It was important for our resort to position itself as a leader in the wellness space in the region to offer a unique and holistic approach to mind and body rejuvenation, offering only the best retreat programmes curated by experts and professionals in the field with a proven track record.
Has the need for well-being retreats grown in the Middle East in the last few years?
Most definitely, the wellbeing retreats were definitely pushed even further following the effects of the pandemic. From launching ZOYA earlier this year, we have seen a huge demand from the GCC and wider Middle East to experience our offering and begin regularly invest- ing in improving their physical and mental health and wellbeing. We are anticipating continued growth and traction both from the regional and international markets.
This is The Reset Issue – what’s your advice for our readers to reset in 2023?
As the region’s first fully integrated wellness experience, we urge everyone reading to try and always place physical and mental health and wellbeing at the top of their minds to invest in their health. With our busy schedules and unhealthy routines and habits, our health is often disregarded and neglected. At ZOYA, we put a huge focus on prevention over the cure to avoid the need for medication and assistance throughout varying stages of life, and we hope that we are able to successfully create a space that inspires continuous exploration of self and promotes a wellness- led lifestyle for all ages.