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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Here’s a first look at the Ritz-Carlton Doha hotel’s ongoing makeover

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Renovated deluxe room
Renovated deluxe room

One of Doha’s landmark luxury hotels is approaching the halfway point of its two-year refurbishment program, officials there have said.

The 15-year-old Ritz-Carlton Doha, located near Lagoona Mall, began gutting and renovating more than half of its rooms and suites in September last year.

It is also revamping at least one restaurant and its spa facilities.

The renovations come at a time when more hotels, particularly in the luxury end of the market, are launching in Qatar, putting pressure on existing establishments to remain attractive to guests.

The first phase of works is due to wrap up by late summer, and then a second stage of renovations to the remaining 174 rooms will get underway, a hotel spokesperson told Doha News.

As it nears the midway point, the hotel has shared some “sneak-peek” images with Doha News of what some rooms will look like when the renovations are complete.

Renovated suite receiving area
Renovated suite receiving area

The Katara Hospitality-owned hotel, which opened in 2001, will stay open to guests and the public throughout the works, officials said.

What’s happening

As part of its “large-scale transformation,” the Ritz-Carlton is first focusing on overhauling the top-half of the building, including 200 of its rooms and suites, the club lounge, La Mer restaurant and Level 23 bar.

That restaurant is currently closed to the public, but the bar remains open for private events, the hotel’s marketing manager Chu Wong told Doha News.

The hotels’ spa, gym and fitness areas are also being revamped. Guests can still book treatments in temporary facilities while the work is taking place.

Ritz-Carlton lobby
Ritz-Carlton lobby

Phase two of the renovation, expected to start around September, will include an update of the other 174 rooms.

In a statement last year, the hotel said its overhaul would create a “contemporary residential look,” combining modern furniture with “opulent” surroundings.

“The guestrooms will introduce warm colors, textiles and prints incorporating floor parquetry, lightly hued paint colors, plush rugs and drapery, new contemporary furnishing, and latest state-of-the-art technology,” it added.

A new signature color, a light blue that the hotel calls “memorable blue,” will be used in the color scheme throughout, Wong added.

When the hotel announced the commencement of the refurbishment last year, it said all works would be completed by mid-2017.

However, there is no timeline yet for when renovations to the lobby, other restaurants, ballrooms and function areas may take place.

More competition

This year, the total number of hotel rooms in Qatar is expected to near 20,000, a 25 percent increase in just 12 months.

As supply grows, hospitality analysts have forecast that room rates will drop by around 3 percent this year, to reach an average of US$191 (QR696) by the end of 2016.

This would be the fourth year in a row that hotels have lowered their rates, although they are still making healthy profits.

Meanwhile, figures from the Qatar Tourism Authority show that average room occupancy rates are down to 70 percent during the first three months of this year, compared to 84 percent in the first quarter of 2015.

Given the new kids on the block, some of Qatar’s older hotels have been undergoing facelifts in a bid to keep up-to-date.

Renovated lobby of Sheraton Hotel
Renovated lobby of Sheraton Hotel

In April 2014 for example, the iconic Sheraton Hotel closed to the public for a nine-month refurbishment.

The revamp included adding glass roof panels to the main lobby, a change of color-scheme and updating of bedrooms, suites and the conference facilities.

The Radisson-Blu Hotel, which was the Ramada, has also had its facade updated in recent years.

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