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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

First hotel in Qatar’s Education City offers equestrian experience

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Qatar Foundation officially launched its first hotel in Education City today on the grounds of the renowned Al Shaqab equestrian complex.

Billed as a “tranquil getaway,” the Al Shaqab Hotel is adjacent to QF’s distinctive white arched horse arena.

Focusing on encouraging guests to be healthy and get active, the hotel offers packages that include riding lessons in the 980,000 square meter, horseshoe-shaped grounds of the facility.

Guests can also use the outdoor swimming pool, gym and kids’ club at the nearby Marwan Club.

The 70-room hotel first opened its doors in October 2014, but has been in a soft-launch period until today.

Facilities

Al Shaqab hotel, which is two stories, was converted from an accommodation block and refurbished with a simple design and interior style.

Predominantly white, the lobby features wall stickers which promote active lifestyles, alongside horse-related art-work and sculptures.

There are 30 “superior doubles” rooms, which include two double beds, and 40 classic king rooms, with one king-size bed. All have a pared-back style, mostly white with pops of bright colors in accessories such as bedside lamps.

King room
King room

The main hotel building includes Balance restaurant, which serves healthy breakfasts, and four meeting/board rooms. The hotel does not serve alcohol and has a no-smoking policy.

Guests can take golf carts – or walk – through the Al Shaqab complex to use the pool, sauna, fitness facilities and kids’ zone in QF’s private Marwan Club, which is named after Marwan Al Shaqab, the award-winning 2000 bay Arabian stallion.

Chef's Garden restaurant and terrace
Chef’s Garden restaurant and terrace

The club is also home to the Chef’s Garden restaurant, which has a “farm-to-table” concept, and uses organic and local produce where possible.

Qatar’s only certified organic farm, Al Safwa farm, supplies vegetables to the restaurant.

The hotel offers airport transfers, while the club is also on the route of the Doha Bus.

Riding

However, management said the main draw for guests is the chance to use the nearby world-class riding facilities, which help the hotel stand out from an increasingly crowded hospitality market in Qatar.

Speaking to Doha News, general manager Karim Abdelhamid said:

“We are very different from any hotel in Doha today. The hotel has a resort-feel – it’s an oasis here. Of course, the biggest draw is if guests are into horses or equestrian events. Then, this is the right place to be.”

In addition to horse-lovers, the hotel also hopes to encourage families to stay for the weekend, which horse riding available for children over the age of five years old.

Horse sculpture in Al Shaqab Hotel lobby
Horse sculpture in Al Shaqab Hotel lobby

Abdelhamid said they also want to attract some of the business visitors who come to Qatar for conferences and events at nearby Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC), which is managed by the same company, Amlak.

He added that Al Shaqab Hotel was the first of a number of new hotels which are “in the pipeline” for Education City in the coming years, although declined to give further details.

Rooms at Al Shaqab hotel start from QR495 for an overnight stay, while packages offering bed, breakfast and one-hour riding sessions are priced at QR955 for a double room or QR1,340 for a family of four, according to the hotel’s website.

Discounts are available for extended stays and QF employees can stay at a reduced price.

While there are plans to launch an online bookings system through the hotel’s website next week, for now reservations can be made by phone or email, Abdelhamid said.

New openings

Education City primarily hosts branches of international universities, but it is also increasing its number of recreational offerings.

A massive luxury development announced by QF late last year is set to include Qatar International Golf Club – an 18-hole golf course, a six-hole championship course, a nine-hole par-three course, a driving range and practice facilities.

Qatar International Golf Club
Qatar International Golf Club

While QF did not confirm the location of the facilities, a 2014 map of the campus shows a golf course, occupying much of the southwest corner  of the site, next to Al Shaqab.

Meanwhile, as Qatar’s hotel building frenzy continues, at least one five-star hotel has opened since the New Year.

The City Center Rotana Doha, next to City Center mall in West Bay/Dafna, opened its doors to guests for the first time earlier this week.

The 52-story tower has 287 rooms and suites and 94 serviced apartments and debuted just a few weeks after its neighbor Shangri La hotel.

Construction of the hotels had been significantly delayed after contractor Habtoor Leighton Group was embroiled in a legal dispute with Qatari company Al Faisal Holding, over the development of the Shangri La, the Rotana and a third hotel, the Merweb.

Would you visit Al Shaqab hotel? Thoughts?

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