As Qatar ramps up efforts to expand its hospitality and tourism offerings, the state’s first Westin hotel has opened its doors to the public.
The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa in Bin Mahmoud is directly across the road from one of Qatar’s longest-established high-end hotels, the Radisson Blu, and is on one of the city’s busiest routes, Salwa Road.
It is the fourth Westin in the Middle East and the fourth Starwood-run hotel in Qatar, after the Sheraton Grand, W Hotel and the St. Regis, the company said.
It is being opened under Qatar-run Ghanem Al Thani holdings.
Last year, news of Marriott International’s intention to buy Starwood Hotels and Resorts led many to speculate about the future of the renowned Starwood loyalty program.
Under that scheme, frequent visitors have access to upgrades and other perks.
Starwood hasn’t commented ahead of the sale, which is expected to go through by the middle of this year.
In a statement, Guido de Wilde, senior vice president and regional director of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Middle East, said:
“We are delighted to introduce our Westin brand to Qatar which remains a key growth market for us in the Middle East.
In line with the brand’s commitment to wellness, The Westin Doha will offer travelers and local residents a revitalizing experience, an escape from the hustle and bustle in the heart of downtown Doha.”
After several missed deadlines, the hotel opened on Feb. 1.
It has 365 rooms, suites and villas – including a 346sq meter presidential suite – with views of the city, pool or garden, the company said.
There is a “Heavenly Spa” with separate male and female wings, nine treatment rooms and a lounge, which are all now open.
However the spa’s wet area, with saunas, steam rooms and hydrotherapy pools will not be open until the spring, the hotel said.
There is also a fitness studio, wave pool and indoor and outdoor infinity pool, according to the Westin’s website.
Four of the six restaurants, cafes and bars are already open, including the coffee shop with outdoor garden terrace Luxe Lounge; Waves pool cafe, restaurant Seasonal Tastes and Mix bar, lounge and terrace.
By mid-March, two further restaurants are expected to open – Sabai Thai and Hunters Room & Grill, which has an indoor winter garden.
It also has what the hotel claims to be Doha’s largest pillar-less ballroom, which is 6,000sq meters in size and has attached bride and groom dressing rooms, for weddings.
Some 69 new tourist establishments – 56 hotels and 13 apartment-hotels – are planned to come online in the next five years, before Qatar hosts the World Cup in 2022.
As the market in Qatar develops, hoteliers have had to wrangle with how to continue to attract people to stay in their establishments.
Average room occupancy for last year stood at just over 70 percent, according to QTA figures. Previous reports have warned that hotels need to provide offers such as reduced room rates to ensure occupancy doesn’t decline.