Landmark hotel marks 20 years

The Sheraton Doha ... a capital landmark.

The pyramid-shaped building is one of the first things that most visitors to Qatar see as their aircraft swoops in to land at Doha's international airport.

An architectural landmark at one end of Doha's beautiful corniche, the Sheraton Doha Hotel and Resort is this year celebrating 20 years of success.

And to mark this milestone, the hotel has chalked out a major refurbishment programme which "will create a product unrivalled in Doha", according to its sales and marketing director Nichlas Maratos.

The renovation programme which begins on May 15 will give a new look to the hotel's upper floors, the Salwa Ballroom - "Doha's favourite", and create a new multi-cuisine restaurant, bar and nightclub, said Maratos.

"The upper floors will be converted into Sheraton's unique Towers concept. The design is in the hands of the world renowned company Hirsch & Bedner," he said.

The 370-room hotel was the venue of last year's World Trade Organisation meeting bringing trade ministers and leaders to its 3,000 seat Al Dafna Hall, one of the largest and most modern conference centres in the Gulf.

Maratos said the hotel was committed to promoting tourism to Qatar.

"We see tourism continuing to grow to Qatar with more people seeking the unique charms of Qatar especially the sunshine, safety and calmness," he said.

"After September 11 tourism to the Gulf declined but we are positive this will pick up again soon, and we will do everything to make it boom."

He said the recent establishment of the Qatar General Tourism Authority (QGTA) was "a very positive step in the right direction for the promotion of tourism to Doha".

"Qatar is a unique destination and we have to tell the world about it. We will support all the endeavours of QGTA and additionally assist with our personal knowledge and the vast marketing machinery of Starwood," said Maratos.

He said Sheraton Doha which recorded an average occupancy of 52 per cent last year, had escaped the worst of the global industry downturn as it relied on the corporate, government and convention sectors for the core of its business.

Maratos said that while the increased competition from new luxury hotels in Qatar had affected business, Sheraton Doha continued to remain the preferred hotel in Doha.

"And we will continue to ensure it stays this way. Our frequent guest program is unmatched in the industry and the service levels at the hotel are at a level that other hotels are still striving for," he said.

"Our 20 years experience and building of relationships will assist us to meet these challenges."

He said Sheraton Doha offered visitors to Qatar unique shopping, sporting and golf packages at very competitive prices.

The hotel will also be involved in the QGTA summer promotion and it will launch its own unique promotions during the summer months, he said.

Sheraton Doha provides a variety of food and beverage outlets as well as comprehensive business and leisure facilities.