Holidaymakers 'are more demanding'


Travellers today are demanding more luxurious and indulgent facilities, particularly when it comes to resorts, says a top Qatar hotelier.

And that is what we offer at the InterContinental Doha, says Johny A Fattaleh, hotel general manager and Six Continents regional vice president for Northern Gulf.

"As world travel increases and holidaymakers become more sophisticated, it is no longer enough to offer simply a beach or small pool," said Fattaleh.

"And despite an economic turndown in the US and threatened recession in Europe, our clients seem to have more disposable income and are willing to spend it on themselves. I believe this is part of the new 'cocooning' trend."

The InterContinental Doha says it offers resort facilities on an "impressive scale".

"It has been our plan from the very beginning to offer resort facilities on an impressive scale. This is why we built the largest private beach in the country (1/2km long and 20m wide) and a huge free-form outdoor swimming pool," said Fattaleh.

He said that although around 80 per cent of the hotel's rooms revenue came from business travellers, the InterContinental still offered first class resort facilities, which include tennis courts, squash courts, a gym with views overlooking the swimming pool, watersports including sailing, diving, parasailing, banana boats, pedalos, waterskiing and boat trips to local islands, acupressure and shiatsu massage, sauna and steam room.

Fattaleh said that although the hotel had investigated the possibility of adding a stand-alone spa, "we feel that the market in Qatar is not quite ready for this yet".

"We will review this in a couple of years' time, when leisure travel to Qatar has increased," he said.

Fattaleh said that the facilities offered by the hotel were popular with both guests and local residents, and on busy Fridays, about 800 people used the recreation facilities.

"As a result we will be extending our gym by 25 per cent and are looking at plans for expanding our changing facilities at the health club," he said.

"We get a lot of local residents staying with us at weekends, as the hotel is perfectly situated on the outskirts of town, so we don't have traffic noise and there are no buildings overlooking the hotel. This spacious, quiet atmosphere is very much appreciated by stressed Doha families and business executives alike!"

The hotel which is less than five minutes' drive from the Doha Golf Club, the home of PGA Qatar Masters tournament and one of the best courses in the Middle East, also offers preferential golfing rates for guests.

"Additionally, golf packages are also available, starting at $180 for two days/one night and one round of golf. As part of the package, we offer preferential tee times on the 18-hole championship course, airport transfers, golf course transfers, golfing buggy and range balls and late check out," said Fattaleh.

"We've had an exceptionally good summer this year, largely due to our special promotion, which saw, for example 1,041 people booking a room in July alone.

"Business during the three summer months was 27 per cent higher than we anticipated, and a 40 per cent increase on figures for the same period in 2001. During the summer promotion overall, 5,400 nights were booked at the promotional rate."

The 9-storey 245-room hotel offers a range of dining options led by its showpiece Sultan Ibrahim, a Lebanese-style fish restaurant.