Centara to open flagship property in Doha

Centara Grand at CentralWorld … high in demand all year round

CENTARA Hotels & Resorts, Thailand’s largest operator of hotels is to make its debut in the Middle East in 2016 with the opening of a five-star property in Doha, the capital of Qatar.

“Our flagship hotel in the Middle East will be in Doha, a fast-evolving destination, though not so much on the leisure side as the corporate travel and regional travel side,” Philip Hall, corporate group director of sales and marketing, Centara, tells TTN. “If you’re going to open a hotel in Doha, it just needs to be in West Bay.”

Centara Grand West Bay Hotel Doha will have 264 rooms and 96 residences, with a variety of room and apartment styles all under one roof, featuring many accommodation options including multiple bedroom units and lock-offs, as well as Club level business rooms and a Club Lounge for the discerning business traveller. The property will be operated under a management contract for Al Bandary Hotel Management and will open in 2016.

“The GCC is an extremely competitive market,” says Hall, “and yet you have to be here. We’re growing fast and furious, and we’re getting better recognition globally as a well-established hotel brand and people like the fact that we have the Asian touch.”

“Centara caters to multiple party sizes, large families who travel with kids, their nanny or aunty, or two families travelling together with their sisters and husbands and families,” says Hall. “A lot of hotels offer rooms with families of two children. But what about those that have three or more kids? We have lots of accommodation for large families. For example, we have three-bedroom penthouses in Phuket with private pools, so there is privacy and the kids can have their own rooms with their nanny. So, although it’s three rooms it doesn’t cost as much as buying three separate rooms. The Middle East market has got good spending power but they spend wisely – they’re looking for good value.”

During the peak travelling periods, such as Ramadan and Eid, Centara sees a lot of Middle East travellers. “There has been a steady growth in visitors from the region over the years and we make sure we have Arabic language newspapers, Arabic news television stations, ladies’ waiting lounges, special menu considerations and so on. In key properties, we even have Arabic speaking frontline staff.  When you’re travelling it’s always comforting to see these small touches from your homeland,” Hall says.

“We’re seeing there is a market that didn’t exist before, the middle ground market, the hard-working expatriates living in the Middle East. With airlines like Fly Dubai that offer affordable flights to Maldives and Sri Lanka, the range of our customers has been growing.  The Middle East traveller has got the world at their door step and they like to explore. We’ve got properties now within the group - not just in Thailand but also Mauritius, Maldives, Indonesia and Vietnam. And Middle East carriers fly to all these destinations.”

Support from Middle East patrons notwithstanding, Centara has one property that does well all year round, he says. “Centara Grand at CentralWorld, our premier Bangkok property, is at the top of the CentralWorld shopping complex, which constantly reinvents its retail portfolio, keeping the offering fresh for our clientele as well.”