March 1, 2012

Qatar’s hotel building spree continues, as the visitors pile in (PICS)

The St Regis Doha.
DOHA, March 1 — The new St Regis Doha hotel has welcomed its first guests, as Qatar’s capital embraces an increasingly ambitious future when it comes to tourism.

The new hotel, which offers 336 rooms with views of the Arabian Gulf, is just one of several ambitious hotel projects on the way for Doha, although it’s easily among the most luxurious — guests are offered butler service for the duration of their stay.

The property features some 16,000 sq metres of leisure facilities, including a spa by Remède (one of the largest in Doha), an Olympic-size swimming pool, luxury beachfront cabanas with private jacuzzis, a private beach and a gym.

The hotel also features a notable set of ten restaurants, including a Jazz venue led by Jazz at Lincoln Centre in New York, a Gordon Ramsay restaurant and a branch of famed Chinese franchise Hakkasan.

With an eye firmly on the World Cup in 2022, Qatar’s hotel market is now kicking up a gear — InterContinental’s Doha The City property opened earlier this month and Shangri-La is set to open two hotels by 2013.

A Superior Room, with Arabian Gulf view, at the St Regis Doha. — AFP pic
It’s all part of a huge drive to build more hotel rooms ahead of the 2022 World Cup, with the government planning to have constructed 90,000 rooms by then, compared to around 15,000 this year.

But even without such a major tournament to plan for, tourism figures released recently suggest that Qatar will need new properties, with a 12 per cent jump in the number of international visitors.

Notably, the number of visitors from the Gulf region soared over 50 per cent, suggesting that the state is on track to become a major destination for tourists from neighboring countries — visitors from Asia were up nearly 20 per cent and Europe was up 15 per cent, the Qatar Tourism Authority said. — AFP-Relaxnews

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