The Kuwait takeover

Waldorf Astoria Kuwait has emerged as one of the most well-loved luxury hotels in the country within a year of opening 

Kemal Sirtikirmizi, General Manager, Waldorf Astoria Kuwait

Waldorf Astoria Kuwait opened in December last year, raising the profile of luxury hotels in the region, quickly becoming the brand’s poster child.

“Although we opened in a slow market, with Kuwait still trying to recover its post-pandemic figures from before Covid-19, what we have achieved in a year is remarkable,” Kemal Sirtikirmizi, General Manager, Waldorf Astoria Kuwait, tells TTN in an interview.

“In terms of market share, I am really pleased to report that we have emerged the market leader. We have the highest occupancy in our hotel category in Kuwait and we command the highest rates in the city. The gap between Waldorf Astoria Kuwait and our competition is quite wide,” he adds, for perspective.

Owned by Mabanee, a leading real estate developer known for its modern vision and excellence in innovation projects, and connected to the luxury end of the country’s largest retail, entertainment and lifestyle destination – The Avenues, Waldorf Astoria Kuwait has the right credentials to succeed in the Middle East market.

The property features 200 contemporary deluxe rooms and suites with panoramic views of the glittering Kuwait City skyline and is home to the largest entry-level accommodation room among all luxury hotels in Kuwait.

Waldorf Astoria’s success in Kuwait can be attributed to a number of factors: the product is the newest and swankiest, of course, but the priceless connection to The Avenues helps as guests appreciate the seamless journey to luxury retail outlets and dining and entertainment options that the destination offers.

Over the months, in part because of common ownership and because of the inviting setting of the Peacock Alley, luxury brands have spilled over from the adjoining mall and made Waldorf Astoria Kuwait their de-facto home with brand activations and launches, influencer meet-ups and fashionable soirees attended by the who’s who.

The hotels outlets themselves draw crowds and had been booked for months when they first opened, Sirtikirmizi tells us. ROKA, the award-winning Japanese robatayaki restaurant, has taken Kuwait by storm and reaffirmed that the hotel’s selection of unique eateries work very well with local patrons. Waldorf Astoria Kuwait offers a spectacular range of dining options, from formal dining, romantic dinners in cabanas, poolside refreshments, family gatherings, to a cosy café setting.

At the moment, the property’s most important feeder market is the local Kuwaiti market, with a focus on leisure and special occasions, followed by Gulf countries. “Qatar is number two, followed by Saudi Arabia on number three and the UAE on number four. We see so many royal families coming in and visiting us over the last one year - they have shifted from other hotels to our hotel and while this has a lot to do with our fabulous product and our wonderful location, it has something to do with our service as well,” he says.

“We are still waiting for the corporate market to pick up, it has been a slow rise. As Hilton and as Waldorf Astoria we have a lot of international contracts, which play a huge role. This year, we have a lot of contracts in our hands that we hope will bear fruit in 2024.

Waldorf Astoria Kuwait gets a lot of government business as well. “The government has a lot of projects, in March, they announced a pretty good budget. Hopefully, this too will play a bigger role next year with many projects coming up, providing more quality business. Further down the line, one of the key government projects is a new airport. Once the new airport is there, we will definitely see an increase in traffic, especially with the stopover tourism.”

Inspired by the original Waldorf Astoria in New York, the property in the heart of Kuwait embodies timeless luxury and elegance, making it the perfect venue for both business and pleasure.

From the signature Waldorf Astoria Spa, a Technogym-equipped Fitness Centre and the family-friendly Waldorf Astoria Kids’ Club, to an eclectic array of first-class restaurants, Waldorf Astoria Kuwait offers a tailored experience to guests.

The service standards at Waldorf Astoria Kuwait are impeccable, earning high scores on TripAdvisor locally and regionally, and resulting in repeat guests, the general manager tells us.

“Other than Waldorf Astoria brand standards, which are already quite high, we have partnered with Forbes Travel Guide, and partaken of regional trainings, but before that, the selection process has been of great import. Finding the right talent and having the right people join you has been a task because there’s no dearth of luxury hotels in the region, but also studying their attitude and aptitude, training them for the excellence and then ensuring they deliver it – that’s where my focus has been.

“The vision behind it has been to be the best at everything we do and while it is easier said than done, if you’re passionate, you can truly be the best at everything,” Sirtikirmizi says.