But what hotel can I book my clients into?
Qatar has issued 1.4 million tickets for the forthcoming Asian Games, covering every individual and team event as well as multi-sport or multi-venue versions.
Obviously some people will be buying a variety of tickets to see as many sports and top athletes as they can. Which means that overall, the Doha Asian Games Organising Committee (DAGOC) expects 250,000 spectators, the vast majority of whom will be from Qatar itself.
Some people from the GCC may choose to fly or drive in just for the day for specific events while others – particularly if coming from further afield – may want to stop over for several days, or even the whole duration of the Games – which run from December 1 to 15.
All the athletes (some 13,500 of them) will be accomodated in the Athletes’ Village. Visiting [and Games accredited] broadcast and print journalists have also had accommodation allocated in the ‘media village’ of serviced apartments close to the main broadcast and media centres. What DAGOC refer to as ‘the Asian Games Family’ the official invitees from the International Olympic Committee, National Olympic Committees and so on, will be staying at all the Qatar National Hotel (QNH) properties: the Sheraton Doha Resort and Convention Centre (the ‘official’ hotel for the Games, which will be sealed off to Joe Public for the duration), The Ritz-Carlton, Doha, the Doha Marriott, the Movenpick and the QNH-managed Al Sadd Merweb. The Sealine Beach Resort in Mesaieed, will be fully booked by DACOC from December 9 to 15 when the equestrian endurance events are held in the desert near Mesaieed, but it can be booked for apartments from December 1 to 9.
Other four- and five-star hotels in Doha such as the the Four Seasons, InterContinental, Ramada, Grand Regency Hotel, Rydges Hotel and Mercure Grand have also been booked out by DAGOC as have the new Marriott Suites – which will accommodate accredited visitors to the Games and will not open to the public until after the Games.
DAGOC is awaiting a final decision from Qatar’s Ministry of interior, but it is possible that, during Doha 2006, visas will only be issued to those entering the country for more than just the day if they have both tickets to Games events and confirmed hotel accommodation. The official 15th Asian Games website (www.doha-2006.org) lists details of another 28 three, two and one star properties in town that will have accommodation available for the general public. Visitors shouldn’t be put off by the very conservative rating of the properties – some of which are brand new but simply lack the razzamatazz, glamour and fitness/recreational facilities of some of the larger and more well-established properties.
These properties include: Al Bustan Hotel, Al Seef Hotel, Doha Palace Hotel, Gulf Paradise Hotel, Oasis Hotel & Beach Club, Qatar Palace Hotel, Regency Hotel, Retaj Executive Suites , Al Muntazah Plaza Hotel (all three-star); Al Jawhara Serviced Apartments, Al Jazeera Serviced Apartments, Al Maha Hotel, Al Murooj Inn, Al Zahra Hotel, Guest Palace Hotel, Gulf Gate Hotel, Gulf Horizon Hotel, New Mashreq Hotel, Qatar International Hotel, Royal Wings 2 and Royal Wings 3 (all two-star). DAGOC recognises that not everyone coming in has the same kind of big budgets available as the corporate guest who make up the mainstay of the country’s hotel guests at other times. In general, people coming in for the Games are just looking for somewhere clean and comfortable to sleep, knowing that most of the day they will be out at the sporting venues, visiting some of the more than two dozen special exhibitions on, at the cultural displays or evening shows. DAGOC has done its homework and looked at previous Asian Games and similar sporting events. There will also be plenty of food concessions at all the Games venues and Qatar has a wealth of restaurants, cafes, coffee shops and sandwich bars for those whose apartments don’t have restaurants.
DAGOC will be keeping a close eye on bookings and requests for accommodation and in September a DAGOC team toured Europe inspecting a number of cruise liners for possible deployment to Qatar if demand exceeds supply. However overall, DAGOC director general Abdullah Al Qahtani believes the planning is good. Certainly DAGOC has exceeded its contractual obligations with the Olympic Council of Asia for the amount of accommodation that must be made available.
The best advice, though, is: Book Early!