Two leading hotel groups have expressed differing opinions about the future of the hospitality business on the Pearl-Qatar.
While the Kempinski hotel group has confirmed that it’s all systems go for a new 5-star hotel on the man-made enclave, the Four Seasons has told Doha News that the construction of its new Porto Arabia hotel is on hold for the foreseeable future.
The new 250-room Alfardan-owned Kempinksi hotel will be located in the Marsa Malaz area of the Pearl. Construction is already underway, and it’s set to open in 2015.
Kempinski management have confirmed that they intend to serve alcohol at the new hotel, despite the continuing ban on its sale elsewhere on the Pearl.
The unannounced ban has been in place on the island since December 2011, and it has been cited as the reason behind the closure of Gordon Ramsay’s Maze, the brief opening and then closure of a QDC alcohol shop, and a dramatic drop in revenues at many other outlets.
New Four Seasons ‘on hold’
Meanwhile, the Four Seasons has told Doha News that although the company has spent 1.5 years preparing the ground and foundations of their new Pearl site, the project has currently stalled, with no time frame given for the resumption of building work.
The hotel group says that the alcohol ban is not the reason for their decision to pause the development, but has also given no other explanation for the move. Previously, management has said that it believes the Qatar hotel market is currently saturated.
Four Seasons Regional Vice President Simon Casson recently told Gulf Business:
“When you have a building owned by the Prime Minister, there’s not going to be an economic impediment to it happening, so much as waiting for the right time. There’s a clear reality that Doha has an oversupply of hotel rooms, so you need to be mindful of how you introduce new supply – but it will happen.”
Conversely, Avsar Koc, the Kempinski’s regional sales director, has told the Gulf Times that their new hotel “reflects the massive opportunities the hospitality industry offers here.”
A window into the thinking of the Four Seasons has been provided by Hotelier Middle East today, which reports that many of Qatar’s hoteliers are finding it hard to grow their business in the current market.
In the article, Casson argues that the current market means corporations are pitching hotels in Qatar against each other, driving down rates and eating into revenues:
“I’m very concerned like everyone else that corporate rates are being driven down” he says. “Dropping corporate rates now is not going to attract anymore corporate business to the city, only lower revenue.”
Construction Week reports that 21 new hotels will open in Doha in the next five years, adding that 45,000 hotel rooms need to be added to Qatar’s stock to reach FIFA’s capacity requirement of 60,000 rooms for the 2022 World Cup.
Credit: Rendering of Marsa Malaz hotel courtesy of http://www.aeb-qatar.com/