Rebuilding confidence is always hardest

The newly opened Ezdan Hotels aims to build on its brand in the hospitality industry

Drive into Doha’s business district fifteen minutes from the airport and the most prominent of buildings are the four tower blocks of the Ezdan Hotel and Suites, set to be the place to stay when on business in Qatar.

Three of the blocks are serviced apartments with 1500 units of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apart-ments, while the fourth block is a 585-unit four-star hotel.
The company’s owner, Sheikh Thani Bin Abdulla Al Thani, has made a substantial investment in creating the Ezdan Management Company to oversee the upgrading of the complex as well as its day-to-day management.
“We intend to build Ezdan as strong brand in the hospitality and lodging industry in Qatar and GCC,” says Joseph Karam, general manager of this gigantic property. Excerpts from an interview with TTN’s MARK PETTIPHER:

What was your biggest challenge in launching this management company?
Our biggest challenge was and is, as a company, to rebuild our guests’ trust and confidence, which was badly damaged by previous managements.  Building a new brand is a challenge, add to that rebuilding lost trust, and we have a harder job. We have travelled some distance in the past few months, but there is still a long way to go.

What is your team doing at present to over come this?
When we took over, we had our experts analyze the critical problems our guests staying in our suites were facing and found that many promises had been made but that none of these commitments were met; nor was there any communi-cation with guests on these matters. Our first priority was to establish a clear line of com-munication with our guests and update them on the progress of each project and we went straight into action by implementing these overdue upgrades. We have so far finished eight major and six minor upgrades, and continue to update all our guests on a monthly basis. This has helped us a lot, as they say – Actions speak louder than words.

You have a total of four towers and have opened one. How would your rate your performance so far?
Opening of the first tower is indeed a success story and it is currently running with an impressive 100 per cent occupancy. Tower 2 is set to open its doors by mid-September with an already confirmed occupancy of 30 per cent. I would have to admit that we have quite a few challenges to over come but am confident that with a committed and strong owner like ours, and with the level of expertise that my team has, we have the winning formula in place.

With the many international hotel chains and local brands entering the market in the next 12 months, how do you intend to position yourself?
Our aim is to be the preferred place to stay for business travellers who are on the look out for good quality accommodation in a premium location. Ezdan Hotel & Suites will provide comfort and valued living for guests and those in the Ezdan world in order to establish a positive reputation staff, guests and owners. Yes, many hotels are coming into the market; however our cutting edge would be the value for money that our guests get in terms of service and the product. Ezdan Hotel and Suites is the only hotel and serviced apartment complex in Doha that has such a large inventory of rooms in the best location needed to cater for some of the country’s major sporting events.

What are your current plans for the hotel?
The Ezdan Hotel will be a business hotel which will open mid-2008, with several F&B options and fully equipped purpose-designed meeting rooms and business centre, as well as a spa and fitness club.

What other projects have you lined up for Ezdan?
At present we have signed up for the management of a massive residential complex in Wakrah comprising of more than 158 villas and 600 two-bedroom apartments. This will be a high end serviced residential compound with truly excellent services. The residents of this complex would enjoy 24 hours’ room service, high end club house and sports facilities, restaurants, convenient stores and many other additional features that would be the first of its kind in Doha. We are in discussions for three other projects. Since they are in their preliminary stages, I am unable to disclose further details.