FACT’s Lindsey Steenkamp steps into a sustainable sanctuary nestled in the urban heart of the newly renovated city – Banyan Tree Doha at La Cigale Mushaireb.

The Banyan Tree bears with it a meaningful reputation, symbolising eternal life, and is fondly referred to as the ‘blessed’ tree. Sustainability is on the tip of everyone’s tongues these days, and rightly so, and, for that reason, as well as the very real need for a weekend of rejuvenation, I was delighted to be invited to try this eco-conscious haven for the first time.

As I arrive with my partner on a bustling Thursday afternoon, I am greeted by a friendly team led by General Manager, Jose Portocarrero. The lobby is impressive yet whimsical, with rhythmic music accompanied by impressive LED lights bouncing their glow off the largerthan-life banyan tree sculptures. I’m told by one of the welcoming front office staff that the renowned interior designer Jacques Garcia, author of this experience, aimed to express all the elements of life from the moment you enter, right up to the top floor, where Vertigo lounge provides an impressive display of the ‘air’ element. On the left of the lobby, you experience a fire element dancing through the sculptures and on the right, the water element is expressed in flowing terms. The check-in is smooth, and I’m pleasantly surprised that our bags make it to the room before us.

We are whisked away to see our room as the concierge unpacks the history and unique touchpoints of the property. Banyan Tree Doha fuses effortless class, tasteful adornment and opulent dining into an unforgettable experience. The hotel hosts 126 sophisticated guest rooms with 66 suites and 215 serviced residences. It is soon to open an immersive Rainforest Hydrotherapy facility. The Banyan Tree Doha also offers recreational indoor and outdoor pools, an indoor experiential theme park and an exclusive cinema multiplex for all ages to enjoy some escapism. In addition, a variety of exclusive dining options define the brand’s commitment to quality of life.

We enter our urban retreat suite and I am welcomed by a delightful array of sweets, fruits and cheeses with a personal welcome note. The room is absolutely breathtaking! With sumptuous turquoise velvet wallpaper, lavish mirror doors and elegant furniture, the space makes you feel like royalty. Exquisite views of the city are emphasised by the floor-to-ceiling windows. I’m a sucker for detail, so I really enjoy the motion-activated light that illuminates the area where your slippers are placed. The 60sq/m room feels airy and spacious, yet intimate with its subtle divisions. A mandatory flop onto the bed proves that it is fit for both King and Queen, adorned with sleek sheets and fluffy pillows. My favourite part is the glamourous bathroom sporting sleek white and grey marble and mirror separations. The bathroom products are all biodegradable and dispensed in stylish re-usable ceramic containers.

The night is young, and my partner and I head out for a romantic sundowner at Vertigo as we await a guest visiting from out of town to join us for dinner. Vertigo only opens its doors at 6pm, but it is worth the wait as the sunset vista sets the tone for the evening.

It’s been a long week and we are eager to enjoy our food. I am no stranger to the renowned Italian cuisine of Il Galante, but I am eager to return and see if they are still as good as before, as I have more recently developed a rather picky palate. Culinary inspiration was drawn from Vincenzo Corrado’s cookbook called The Il Cuoco Galante Cookbook, revering traditional Italian cuisine with the best ingredients served with love and passion in a classy setting. Head Chef, Rosario Cavallaro recommends that we start with a Meleanzane Alla Parmigiana and Scala dei Turchi (tuna tartare), which is a fresh addition to the menu. The Meleanzane (eggplant with parmesan) makes a dramatic entrance with a cloud of smoke and is neatly constructed on a rock-like plate, infused with a fresh flavour and a comforting richness.

Chef’s interesting spin on the tuna tartare is innovative and creative with the perfectly seasoned tuna served on a bed of fresh mandarin slices and garnished with fennel, toasted almonds, basil, lemon zest, Maldon Sea Salt, avocado and black pepper, and accompanied by a side of Almond Granita. For mains, my partner opts for the Risotto Porcini made with Mascarpone sauce and roasted hazelnuts. I’m not a risotto fan, but I absolutely loved the rich mushroom flavours and the creamy sauce. I am served with another new addition to the menu, the Wagyu Beef Tenderloin, drizzled in a coffee cream and chocolate beef jus. The dish is complemented by its integral ingredients of rocket salad, pecorino cheese, caramelised figs, toasted pine nuts, truffle mayonnaise, Maldon Sea Salt, avocado and black pepper. Cooked to perfection, this delight is an assured crowd-pleaser.

We end the culinary extravaganza with another new kid on the dessert block, a larger-than-life lemon serving dish that presents a lemon sorbet on a bed of ice. Rich and tangy lemon flours tantalise the taste buds and are a firm favourite with me. I thoroughly indulge in the unique Black Truffle Tiramisu ensemble and call it a night. Overall, the food is spectacular, the service impeccable and the romantic atmosphere a must to experience.

We wake up the next morning refreshed and with a lust for life and head to the gym for an early morning workout in the state-of-the-art centre. The outdoor pool is neatly situated in the beautiful garden and is perfect for a morning swim and great for kids to enjoy too. Afterwards, we simply have to try the stylish Jacuzzi to unwind and soak in the intimate environment.

With the spa due to open in August, I book myself a Therapeutic Moor Mud Bath treatment. Seeing the range of bath treatments that Banyan Tree offer is exciting. They provide a range of different rituals as an ode to the ancient Greek and Roman cultures designed to work their alchemy and calm body and mind. Presented via a rose petal path way lit-up by candles, and served with sparkling grape juice, fruit and a chocolate platter, the Moor Mud Bath is total unadulterated indulgence. The rich bio-mineral mud leaves my skin silky-soft, and my tensions have been calmed. I highly recommend this treatment as a way to truly unwind and rejuvenate. I will be back for Moor!

All good things must come to an end and, unfortunately, our revitalising stay is drawing to its conclusion too, but with early check-in and late check-out on offer, we maximise our stay time.

Overall, Banyan Tree Doha effortlessly delivers a lavish, ecologically sensitive experience for the cultured traveller, enhanced by the level of service provided by their staff. I depart feeling inspired and invigorated and I will certainly return for another memorable staycation.

Book your much-needed staycation at the Banyan Tree Doha and experience their unique philosophy. ✤