Following the official opening of Qatar’s second Kempinski hotel, work has just begun on a third similarly branded luxury building, on a site opposite the Museum of Islamic Art, New York-based architects have said.
The 15-story Shaza Kempinski will be wrapped in glass that features a geometric, “Islamic-inspired Arabesque pattern,” according to architect firm Soma.
Groundworks and construction of the hotel foundations are already underway and according to the hotel’s website, it is expected to open sometime in 2016.
Unlike the two other Kempinskis in Doha – one in West Bay and the new Marsa Malaz at the Pearl-Qatar – this new hotel is being billed as an “alcohol-free, Sharia-compliant destination.”
Facilities at the 180-room hotel are set to include a roof-top pool terrace with a celebrity chef-run restaurant, spa, ballroom, cigar lounge and two restaurants inside the complex, as well as three basements.
Its smooth facade has been designed to imitate the “Mashrabiya” figured window screens that are popular in the region, but these have been silkscreened on to the glass, then adapted. The pattern will be denser on areas where more privacy is required and more open on aspects which need extra light, architects said.
When the hotel was first announced at the Arabian Travel Market in 2013, it was also set to include an art gallery in the lobby and estimated a completion date of Spring 2016.
Meanwhile, the Marsa Malaz Kempinski hotel on The Pearl-Qatar has officially opened its doors to guests after an apparent last-minute delay last month.
The five-star, Alfardan-owned hotel was billed to launch on December 1, and even on the day of its supposed opening, its own website featured a ticker-tape countdown.
But it remained closed throughout December, much to the disappointment of residents who had been anticipating the launch of what is the only venue on the man-made island licensed to serve alcohol.
The hotel quietly opened its doors on Jan. 7, initially offering short tours to potential guests who were able to get light refreshments in its Cafe Murano, on the ground floor.
It began taking bookings for its rooms several days ago and, so far, two restaurants, a cafe and a cigar bar are open, with more to follow in the coming two months, General Manager Wissam Suleiman told Doha News.
He refused to provide a specific reason for the late opening, saying only: “We were fine-tuning the hotel.”
The hotel is mostly aimed at attracting Qatari guests, in addition to other visitors from the GCC. But Suleiman said he hoped Europeans would also be drawn to the venue, particularly in the spring months.
International restaurant Sawa – which means “together” – is open all day and is led by Germany-born Executive Chef Mattias Roock, offering a mix of European, Arabic and Asian food.
Also open is Spanish eatery El Faro, meaning lighthouse, which is only serving dinner at the moment.
It has an outdoor terrace, tapas bar and smaller wine bar, and has a laid-back vibe with a colorful, Picasso-inspired handpainted mural along its main wall. Its menu includes staples such as paella, tapas, pintxos and salt cod bacalao.
Bohemia cigar lounge is reputedly the Middle East’s first molecular bar and is headed by Simon Mhaidat, who has won 186 awards throughout the world for his drinks expertise.
While not cheap – some of the more special cocktails are priced at QR250 to QR350 each – the making of them is a piece of theater, involving dry ice, dramatic lighting and other special effects.
Suleiman, the general manager, told Doha News that two more restaurants – Levant-inspired Al Sufra and Italian Antica Pesa – would open in February.
Construction of the building that will house Latin restaurant Toro Toro as well as a branch of the well-known Japanese eatery Nozomi is underway and these restaurants are set to open by March ahead of a planned grand opening in the spring, Sulieman said.
They will be joined by a roof-top bar and club, spa cafe and beach grill restaurant.
The health club, gym and children’s club are already open. The 3,000-square-meter Clarins spa is still under construction and is expected to launch next month.
While the beach and seven outdoor pools are already open, they are currently only for the use of hotel guests.
The resort features a number of distinctive sculptures and pieces of art. In the lobby is a Murano glass and metal sculpture called Tree of Life, which features 12 glass birds to represent the months of the year.
At the main stairwell are four dramatic chandeliers, also made from Murano glass. A total of 44,000 screws hold together the pieces of glass, which took three months to assemble on site, a hotel representative said.
The 18 meter-high bronze horse sculpture that stands at the entrance to the hotel car park is by Qatar-based Iraqi artist Ahmed Al Bahrani, and was painstakingly put together from 25 separate pieces.
Work is still underway to some of the rooms, but once complete the hotel will have 281 bedrooms including 69 suites, two presidential suites and two royal suites, all with 24-hour butler service.
The Mandarin Oriental, which will have 158-room hotel with 91 serviced apartments, was first announced in 2010, but after some delays is not expected to be finished until next year.
The other two hotels are the Al Wadi Hotel, part of Accor’s M Gallery Collection, and a 181-room Park Hyatt. When they were initially announced, the projects aimed to open in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
Qatar is significantly investing in increasing the number of hotels, as it gears up to develop its tourism strategy ahead of hosting the World Cup in 2022.
As part of the national tourism strategy launched last February, the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) plans to extend Qatar’s appeal to visitors from across the globe, and has a target of 7 million annual tourists by 2030.
This is a significant increase from the 1.2 million visitors who came to the state in 2012 and to make it a reality, will need around US$45 billion investment from the government and private sector.
Banana Island resort is one of the recent additions to Doha’s hotel pool when it started taking its first guests at the beginning of this month. And the Sheraton Doha reopened last month after a nine-month refurbishment.
Meanwhile, the country’s first Mondrian Hotel is set to open later this year. Situated next to Zig-Zag towers and Lagoona Mall, 31-story hotel will have 270 rooms, including residential suites and two penthouse floors.
Do you plan to check out the Marsa Malaz? Thoughts?