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KATE CRACKNELL PAYS A VISIT TO AL CORNICHE CLUB RESORT AND SPA IN KUWAIT CITY


A


l Corniche Club Resort and Spa, located on the seafront on the edge of Kuwait City, “doesn’t feel


like Kuwait,” according to spa director Maria Davydova. “English is the language spoken at the club and we have a big mix of nationalities. We don’t really offer traditional Arabic services, and our local members are very modern in their outlook,” she explains. “There are two Kuwaits,” adds Patrick


Taffi n d’Heursel, Six Senses Spa director at the new Hotel Missoni in Kuwait City, which I also visited on my trip. “There’s the more traditional Kuwait, typifi ed by the burqa, and then there’s the Kuwait that goes to spas. The difference in mindset is


hard to attribute to any one thing, but as a general rule those who use our services tend to be more widely travelled.” This international perspective has led to high expectations. Taffi n d’Heursel explains: “Kuwaitis have money, but they don’t just spend it without thinking. They’ve experienced high standards around the world so, while they’re happy to spend, they will only do so if they feel they’re getting value and good service.” Around 92 per cent of Kuwaitis


work for the government, earning “at least KD800 [around £2,000] a month” according to Gerard Oliver, general manager of Al Corniche. Those who work in the private sector, on lower salaries, are compensated by the government. As


a result, immigrant maids and nannies are commonplace – from a total population of 3.8 million, one million are Kuwaiti, with the remainder a combination of western expats and immigrants from countries across the Gulf region and beyond. Nannies tend to accompany families on days out, so parents can enjoy ‘me time’. And with working hours also relatively


short, Kuwaitis have both the time and the disposable income to generate a high demand for good quality leisure. Taffi n d’Heursel believes there’s a growing focus on wellness within this leisure time: “I see a lot of Kuwaitis now concerned about their health, obesity, eating properly, taking care of themselves. Of course everyone wants a quick fi x, but they are learning that you have to change your lifestyle to be able to maintain any benefi ts.” Nevertheless, with social life revolving


heavily around food, and with spa-based relaxation a signifi cantly more popular option than the gym – plastic surgery remains a popular fall-back – health statistics are concerning: 28.8 per cent of adults in Kuwait are obese and 14.4 per cent have diabetes. If this is expanded to include overweight as well as obese people, the fi gure rises to 74 per cent of the population – the worst in the Middle East, and among the worst in the world.


Al Corniche is best described as ‘a resort without a hotel’, says GM Gerard Oliver 36 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital


whizz tour While Kuwaitis travel internationally, Kuwait itself is not on the tourist map –


july 2012 © cybertrek 2012


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