Batshon: “Doha Marriott is the ultimate business hotel”
The Doha Marriott hotel has been a familiar landmark on the skyline of Doha Bay for decades – although when it was first built, it was known as the Gulf Hotel. Now, with its distinctive blue glass-clad Tower Block, it looks out across the bay at a constantly changing skyline as Qatar witnesses unprecedented economic growth and development.
As the Marriott, it has been totally modernised and transformed. TTN spoke to general manager Joe Batshon about his future plans for the hotel and more.
TTN: Qatar’s MICE market is developing fast; how many conferences/seminars has Doha Marriott hosted this year and what does the calendar hold for you for next year? Do organisations approach you early enough to make their conference bookings?
Joe Batshon: We have hosted over 25 conferences so far this year. The 2006 calendar looks very exciting already. As the demand for Doha continues to grow, organisations are learning that they have to reserve early in order to guarantee availability.
Tell us something about your guests – are they predominantly business or leisure travellers…
In view of the fact that we are a business hotel, the majority of our guests are business travellers from Europe, the US and the Far East. The number of Middle Eastern travellers is continuing to grow with the UAE leading the set.
You’ve had major renovations at the hotel and also opened Pearl Lounge. What’s next on the cards?
We have a spectacular upgrade for the marina area on the cards starting the middle of 2006. The upgrade will include the addition of two world-class restaurants that would provide panoramic views of the Doha waterfront.
How do you view the development of Qatar’s hospitality industry?
Qatar’s hospitality industry is growing at an astounding rate. Both the supply and demand parameters are rising progressively. The increasing number of hotels currently under construction provides a very bright picture with reference to the market potential. While most of the additional supply in the past came from the five-star category, a significant number of four- and three-star developments are under way. In response to the vision that the authorities have for the Doha market, the growth in the five-star segment will continue to surpass all other categories.
How (if at all) will the opening of the two new Marriott properties in Doha affect your business?
I believe that the opening of the new Marriott properties would strengthen our existing portfolio and enable us to better leverage our resources in the future.
What do you think sets Doha Marriott apart from other hotels in the city?
What sets Marriott apart from our competitive set is the outstanding value proposition that we offer both from the product, service and location perspectives. We have always positioned ourselves as a business hotel and continued to enhance our great product and service to cater for that particular market segment. We were the first hotel in Doha to offer high speed internet access and we continue to set the trend by being the first hotel that offers wireless roaming high speed internet access in the rooms and in all public areas including the restaurants and the Executive Club Lounge. Our restaurant gallery provides the business traveller an excellent selection of diverse venues for dining and/or entertaining. The Pearl Lounge club offers the same business traveller an exclusive venue to unwind and/or entertain while the spa provides the latest treatments for the hard-working executives to unwind and recharge. In addition with the introduction of our plush, comfortable and luxurious bedding set with thicker mattresses, I believe all our creative features work together to form the ultimate business hotel offering thoughtfully tailored amenities in luxurious surroundings.
Can you comment on your relations with the Qatar Tourism Authority? How do you see tourism developing?
QTA is a young organisation with magnificent ambitions that we are all enthusiastic about. We convene with QTA representatives an average of four to five times a year to discuss plans and strategies. The majority of the hotels within Doha are well represented during travel fairs. The QTA makes every effort to provide an excellent platform for the hospitality industry representatives in order to promote the destination. There are ambitious plans currently being developed to evolve the leisure component of the industry to compete with regional and international destinations. We continue to follow the developments eagerly and are very excited about the future of the leisure segment for this country.