Style and comfort at Ritz-Carlton, Doha
THE Ritz-Carlton, Doha opened in October 2001 – just in time to host delegates attending the WTO’s 14th ministerial summit, which was held in Qatar.
The fact that it has been a success right from day one is due – at least in part – to the fact that the hotel invests a tremendous amount of time and effort in customer service training for its staff (around 100 hours a year for each employee). In fact, in the third week of April, The Ritz-Carlton, Doha invited local journalists to participate in a ‘mini’ version of its orientation programme – from the The Ritz-Carlton Credo of ‘we are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen’ through the Three Steps of Service, the 20 basics, and an introduction to ‘MR BIV’, a ‘cartoon-style’ character that Ritz-Carlton employees try to ensure never makes an appearance on their premises. MR BIV is actually an acronym for all the negative aspects the hotel and its staff work hard to avoid – Mistakes, Rework, Breakdowns, Inefficiency and Variance.
“Our guests expect very high quality service,” said general manager Pierre Perusset. “But that means meeting their expectations, and providing, even anticipating, exactly what they want not what we think they should have,” added Paul Cam, the hotel’s director of quality. “No matter how high your standards are, if it’s not what the customer wants, it’s no good. And they also expect consistency, in each individual Ritz-Carlton hotel, and across the chain.”
In fact, the hotel’s Guidance Team and Senior Leaders explained the whole Ritz-Carlton philosophy, how it’s put into practice and what it achieves.
There are 46 different nationalities employed at The Ritz-Carlton, Doha so guests should have no communications problem – but language tuition is also available to employees in the hotel’s large and well-equipped Learning Centre. (In Doha, for example, they don’t just teach English or Arabic, but Spanish too).
Built on two manmade islands, the 23-storey hotel has a floor-space of 80,000 sq m, and no guest room is less than 47 sq m in size. There are, in fact, a total of 374 rooms and suites, 42 of which are on The Ritz-Carlton Club level – the Club lounge offers five complimentary food presentations throughout each day. There is also a Health Spa and fitness centre, nine restaurants and lounges, and a 235-berth marina, as well as the separate Admirals’ Club. There are two swimming pools, one indoor the other outdoor, and the hotel is currently upgrading its beach facilities. (The beach is also a popular venue for outdoor concerts in town, having hosted both Shaggy and Lionel Ritchie). The huge indoor tennis courts were also transformed, temporarily, into an amazing fully-fledged theatre when the hotel hosted the Andrew Lloyd Webber production of the musical Cats in January 2004. The hotel also has its own squash courts.
But, interestingly, the ratio of the behind-the-scenes service areas (known as ‘the heart of the hotel’) to public areas at The Ritz-Carlton, Doha is 60:40 (compared to most hotels’ 30:70), illustrating just how important service is.