THE Qatar National Hotels Company (QNH) is likely to open its luxury Sharq Village and Spa before the end of this year even as it plans to extend each of its existing properties.
QNH is also developing its own Merweb brand, first locally but with the intention of expanding into the region. Merweb is expected to add two new hotels and apartments in Doha in 2007, with further projects under consideration.
QNH is the largest owner and operator of hotels in Qatar, accounting for more than half of the hotels in the country, including the Sheraton, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott and Moevenpick properties in Doha and the Sealine Beach Resort in Mesaieed.
The Sheraton was recently re-named to the Sheraton Doha Resort and Conference Hotel.
Michael Marshall, director of sales and marketing at QNH says there are plans being developed to extend each of the existing QNH properties. “We have, just this summer, completely renovated the rooms, suites, villas and chalets at Sealine and the lobby and restaurants are to be renovated soon. This is Sealine’s best year yet for business, and for the first time this year they will be joining the rest of the QNH team at the WTM.”Sealine’s success, he added, is proof of the market potential for resorts in the country. Several private development companies are developing resorts outside the capital (for many years, Sealine was the only property outside Doha), but Marshall would not be drawn on any further QNH resort plans nevertheless saying that as part of its overall vision and expansion plans, it was continuing to aggressively pursue a number of options.
Al Sadd Merweb has introduced a series of upgrades and re-positioned itself very successfully as a four star business hotel. “It too is having its best year to date. It offers guests high-speed Wifi access, and in the rooms there have been important new touches such as complimentary tea and coffee maker, complimentary bottled water, new duvets and a very popular pillow menu.”
Although QNH owns the existing Movenpick hotel on Doha’s Corniche, it does not own the property for the Movenpick Suites, which will be used for the Doha Asian Games but not open to the general public until after the Games. “But I don’t see that as presenting any conflict for QNH. The two properties are completely different and cater to different clientele. Our property is a hotel and the new one is executive suites.”
The Sharq Village and Spa is an elegant five-star property that offers truly modern luxury in surroundings characterised by authentic Gulf architecture. To be managed by the Ritz-Carlton, it will have one of the largest spas in the Middle East: a 23-treatment-room facility to be managed by Six Senses Spas that will include saunas, steam rooms, jacuzzis, plunge pools, fitness rooms and dedicated areas for yoga, meditation and Tai Chi.
Says Marshall: “This is truly a deluxe five-star property, and the first in the country to truly reflect Qatari culture in every architectural detail, even to the thick walls. It cost almost half a million Qatari riyals.”
Sharq Village and Spa has 174 rooms and suites located in traditional ‘Qatari houses’, designed to indulge guests in a unique opulent experience of Qatari culture, tradition and rich heritage. The shops located just off the lobby are designed to resemble a Qatari souq and walking from the lobby to the guest rooms through beautiful paved walkways and courtyards is like being in an old Qatari village. It is situated on its own private beachfront with spectacular views of central Doha.
The courtyards have electronically retractable roofs, says Marshall, so the roof can be closed in bad weather. The presidential suite is more like a ‘presidential complex’, with its own swimming pool and can probably accommodate a complete delegation.”
The gastronomic centre for the property is the three-level Fish Market seafood restaurant, which will serve fresh local fish. There are four other restaurants and a Cigar Bar featuring Qatar’s first walk-in humidor.
by Gina Coleman
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