Hilton plans ‘iconic’ Salwa beach resort in southwest Qatar

Salwa Beach resort

Hilton

A new massive waterfront resort roughly 100km outside of Doha is expected to open by the end of 2019, developers have announced.

Hilton Hotels & Resorts will operate the 362-room resort, which will be owned by Al Rayyan Hospitality and located off of Salwa Road, approximately 15 minutes away from the Saudi Arabian border.

Speaking to Doha News, Carlos Khneisser, Hilton’s vice-president for Middle East development, said:

“It’s the entrance to Qatar. (The property has) a clean beach with clear water and a very peaceful environment. It is the right location … there is no doubt that this will be iconic.”

Hilton Salwa Beach Resort & Villas will be constructed on 257 acres of land and is envisioned to include a water park, marina, dive center, cinemas, pools, health club, spa and considerable retail space.

In addition to the rooms and suites in the main hotel building, the resort will include two small “villages” of family villas.

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Renderings by SKS Studio

Khneisser compared the plans to the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Hotel and Resort in the UAE, but said the Qatar facility will be constructed on a much larger scale and be the biggest of its kind in the Middle East.

He added that considerable effort would go into marketing packages that include food and access to the resort’s amenities.

“If someone is staying three or four days, you want to make sure their time is full … When you have a resort of that magnitude, it should be easy for someone to have a full agenda,” Khneisser said.

As the operator, he said he did not know the project’s construction cost and that room rates would be determined closer to the resort’s opening date.

The market

Khneisser said the resort would fill a gap in Qatar’s hospitality market, which is dominated by high-end business-oriented hotels in central Doha.

In addition to business travelers looking to extend their stay, Khneisser said Hilton would initially be targeting local residents as well as families from Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

As the resort becomes well-known in the region, it would hopefully attract an “additional layer” of foreign guests, he said.

While Khneisser said it’s “too early” to say whether the resort will be licensed to serve alcohol, a press release stated that the Hilton Salwa Beach Resort & Villas will have 13 restaurants, bars and lounges.

If it does serve alcohol, the resort could find itself popular with residents of Saudi Arabia, where alcohol is banned. Many Saudis travel to Bahrain because of its proximity and liberal alcohol policies, which some say has led the island state to develop a reputation as a party country that’s become “the brothel of the Gulf.”

Family-minded

In contrast, Qatar tourism officials have repeatedly said they want this country to offer a “predictable” experience for families that preserves the country’s Islamic identity and moral code.

The Hilton Salwa is the second resort planned for Qatar. Anantara’s Banana Island Resort Doha is supposed to open this year, but its website is still not taking reservations.

Khneisser said the market can support more than two resorts.

Qatar attracted 1.3 million tourists last year, up 8.3 percent from 2012. Most visitors came from other GCC nations and traveled to Qatar for business.

As part of its long-term strategy, the Qatar Tourism Authority wants the number of tourists to increase to between 6.7 million and 7.4 million by 2030, with the largest growth coming from leisure visitors originating from outside the region.

It plans to focus on its promotional and funding efforts on tourism products and services in several categories, one of which is “sun and beach” attractions such as resorts, water sports and luxury cruises that capitalize on the country’s warm weather and extensive shorelines.

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