Qatar and in particular Doha continues to experience a major boom in hotel development with large international hotel chains and companies rushing to become a part of one of the fastest growing countries in the world.
A raft of new hotels ranging from luxurious five star sanctuaries, to budget inns are set to open in Qatar’s largest city, Doha over the next few years, revolutionising this destination which offered only one luxury hotel ten years ago.
More than US $100 billion worth of infrastructure is due to be completed before 2022 – the year that FIFA comes to town - including the construction of 77 new hotels and 42 hotel apartments in Qatar.
This will bring a total of 21,107 new rooms into the Qatari hospitality market. Many of these are luxury hotels offering the finest service and facilities, including world class restaurants and spas.
In 2011 alone, it is estimated a stock of 6,369 hotel rooms - comprised of 25 hotels and 10 hotel apartments - have come on to the market.
Despite this surge of new hotel openings, occupancy rates for the third quarter in 2011 revealed an overall four percent increase in compared the previous year with figures peaking in September, reflecting ongoing demand and interest in the destination.
Mr. Ahmed Al Nuaimi, Chairman of the Qatar Tourism Authority, said the growth in hotel revenues and visitor figures show the success of the country’s national tourism strategy which in turn supports the growth of the country and its aim to diversify the economy.
Mr Al Nuaimi’s revealed that average room occupancy rate for hotels in the third quarter for the period from July to September 2011 was 48 percent, compared with an average room occupancy rate (44%) during the same period of 2010.
Meanwhile July recorded average occupancy rates of 50 percent versus 48 percent last year. However September’s figures saw an increase of 11 percent – 55 percent compared to 44 percent in 2010.
With at least fourteen new hotels in the pipeline, BTN has investigated some of the new hotels that are set to open in the destination, which was voted Middle East’s Leading Business Destination by the World Travel Awards, over the next few months.
New hotel openings set for Qatar
St Regis Doha prepares to open in February
In preparation for the hotel’s upcoming opening on February 28th, The St. Regis Doha has welcomed over 200 hospitality professionals to its growing team in the past two months. The St. Regis Doha, which is training employees on site, features 336 rooms, including 70 suites - ranging from junior suites to presidential suites. The hotel features 10 restaurants and bars - from international fine dining venues to Jazz at Lincoln Centre Doha, the first jazz club in Doha to offer daily live jazz music. The hotel also offers 4,000-square-meters of meeting space, with the largest ballroom in Doha to offer natural daylight. Recreational facilities include Remède Spa, an Olympic swimming pool and oceanfront cabanas with private Jacuzzis.
Rotana expansion gets underway
Abu-Dhabi based hotel management company, Rotana, is planning to open 8 new hotels in 2012, including its second hotel in Qatar. In the third quarter of 2012, the 5-star City Centre Rotana in Doha will offer 400 luxurious modern rooms and suites, Club Rotana Executive floors, 5 Food & Beverage venues, a wide variety of meeting rooms in addition to a state-of-the-art Bodylines Health and Fitness Centre.
IHG Crowne Plaza makes Qatar debut
IHG’s Crown Plaza brand will make its debut in Qatar with the opening of The Crowne Plaza Doha Airport later this year. The five star property which incorporates 265 guest rooms and 83 serviced apartments, which will be located within Doha’s newest business park, feature three specialty restaurants. Targeting business travellers, a fully-equipped business centre with state-of-the-art facilities will also form part of the hotels services.
John Bamsey, Chief Operating Officer, IHG, Middle East & Africa revealed: “Today IHG has pushed further forward with development, highlighting our commitment to continued growth and expansion within the Middle East and Africa.”
Marriott opens three hotels in Doha
Marriott International has boosted its growth in the Middle East with the opening of three hotels in Doha. Two hotels — the 257-room Renaissance Doha City Center Hotel and the 204-unit Courtyard by Marriott Doha City Center — and an executive stay facility, the 123-apartment Marriott Executive Apartments, Doha City Center, opened their doors in 2011. The new hotels are located in two 48-story towers within Doha City Center. They share nine restaurants, three lobbies and almost 13,000 square feet of meeting space, a health club and spa.
“The opening of the three hotels is a major step forward in reinforcing Doha’s futuristic vision and surging tourism potential in Qatar,” commented Mark Satterfield, Chief Operating Officer Middle East & Africa, on opening the properties.
Hilton Worldwide plans three
The Hilton Doha is currently accepting reservations for June 1st 2011, when the property will officially open. Running a little behind schedule, the hotel – which was due to open last year - features 309 contemporary guest rooms and suites this property offers a 24-hour business centre, 7 contemporary meeting rooms and a stunning Grand Ballroom for up to 650 people, featuring the latest audio/visual technology and wireless internet access. Located in the commercial heart Doha, it will incorporate an eforea:spa at Hilton with 8 therapy rooms.
Hilton will also manage a 288-room residential hotel in Doha from 2012, located next to the forthcoming Hilton Doha. The new-build property will feature studios and apartments from one to three bedrooms in size, as well as a restaurant and outdoor swimming pool. Slated to open this year, the Hilton Doha Residence will be located in the West Bay business and diplomatic district of Doha, adjacent to the 324-room Hilton Doha.
The 258-room Hilton Garden Inn Doha Al Sadd is scheduled to open mid-2012. This will be the third Hilton Garden Inn hotel in the Middle East, following the opening of the Hilton Garden Inn Riyadh Olaya in 2009 and Hilton Garden Inn Riyadh Al Muroj, scheduled to open in 2012.
Rudi Jagersbacher, president for Hilton Worldwide (Middle East & Africa) explains “This is exactly the right time to be growing in Qatar – the tourism industry in Doha is at a very exciting stage of development and the country is gearing up for the FIFA World Cup 2022.”
Kempinski Group expands Middle East presence
The Kempinski Group is expanding its presence in the Middle East with the forthcoming opening of Marsa Malaz Hotel Kempinski. The luxury hotel will comprise individual luxury family beach villas on larger-than-average plots, each elegantly arranged around the bay and its headlands. Overlooking an extensive harbour entirely bordered by a ‘natural’ beach, privacy and spaciousness were design imperatives for the much sought-after homes at Costa Fayrouz. The resulting villas, fusing many styles of island-inspired architecture, exist in a haven set in tropical paradise.
Premier Inn targets business travellers in Qatar
It is perhaps of little surprise that the UKs largest budget hotel chain, Premier Inn, is planning a presence in Qatar’s capital. Dohaland has signed an agreement with Premier Inn to build a 200 room hotel in Education City scheduled to open in 2012. This is good news for the recently opened Qatar National Convention Centre whose international conference delegates are likely to demand reasonable hotel rates in an uncertain economic climate.
Premier Inn caters to business travellers with an en-suite bathroom complete with shower and bath, 32” flat screen television with freeview, laptop safe, tea and coffee making facilities, a spacious desk area with WiFi internet access. In addition, the hotel will also have a restaurant. The Education City Premier Inn will be the hotel chain’s fourth hotel in the Middle East region with properties already in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
New Doha International Airport to be unveiled in 2012
In anticipation of FIFA 2022, the New Doha International Airport (NDIA) is expected to be unveiled in 2012, featuring a modern amenities whilst being environmentally-friendly with a sustainable design. .
In an interview with BTN Mr. Al-Nuaimi, revealed: “We have a new airport to accommodate 50 million people coming in through Qatar. We are targeting 5% of the 50 million people – which is 2.5 million coming to the country in addition to what we already have.”
“We are developing 80 to 100,000 rooms for the 2022 World Cup. So there is an economic cycle happening for the next eleven years.”
Qatar Airways outlines route expansion plans
Meanwhile, Qatar Airways has outlined route expansion plans for 2012 focused on Australia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East, with a raft of new destinations set to join the airline’s rapidly-growing global network.
Highlights include Perth in Western Australia, the Finnish capital Helsinki, Croatia’s capital city of Zagreb, Gassim in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and three East African cities – Zanzibar, Kigali and Mombasa, in Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya, respectively.
Operating from the airline’s hub in Doha, capital of the State of Qatar, all seven new routes will be launched over the next few months.
“Our mission has been to operate to key business and leisure destinations around the world, but also to underserved markets where others dare not venture into.
World Travel Awards Grand Final set for Qatar
Next week, Qatar will play host to the World Travel Awards Grand Final on January 11 at Katara. Qatar Tourism Authority has been nominated in the categories of World’s Leading Business Travel Destination and World’s Leading Tourist Board. For more information on nominees, booking or the event itself click here.