All photos by Chantelle D’mello
Qatar’s first Asian five-star hotel has opened its doors to the public this week, offering a mix of Chinese culture and Arab hospitality.
The 50-story building was designed as part of the third phase of the mall’s extension, and is one of three hotels that had been embroiled in legal disputes between UAE-based contractor and Qatari company Al Faisal Holding.
Though now settled, those issues caused the hotel’s opening to be pushed back from early 2013 to late 2015.
Addressing the dispute, Shangri-La’s general manager Coen Masselink told Doha News:
“We don’t want to dwell on the past, but it had to do with quality issues. Both Sheikh Faisal and Shangri-La wanted something very special and then here and there, during the crisis time, there was a delay, new standards came in, certain structural elements had to be replaced, and things like that, but we just (kept) looking forward.
We didn’t want to compromise on quality. Our standards have changed, certain concepts (for the F&B offerings) were changed and updated.”
The Shangri-La Doha began accepting reservations yesterday for its 272 rooms and suites, as well as 42 fully serviced apartments.
In a nod to the local heritage, the top tiers of the hotel’s facade have been modeled to look like the head of a falcon.
Additionally, pieces of Qatar’s past from the Sheikh Faisal museum have been loaned to the hotel and are on display around the lobby and at one of the hotel’s main restaurants, Sridan.
Other tributes to the local culture include an oud player that welcomes guests as they enter the lobby, a falcon and falconer that people can take photos with and a functioning apiary on the roof of its seventh floor.
That area was set up in collaboration with local businessman and beekeeper Khalid Al Suwaidi.
It is closed to the public and will provide fresh honey as the harvesting season approaches to be used in beverages and desserts.
Food and entertainment
Six of the Shangri-La’s seven food and beverage outlets are now open to the public, including the country’s first non-smoking piano bar called The Den, to cater to “guests who want to enjoy a good night out, but without the smell of cigarettes.”
There’s also Yabby, which hosts a live seafood bar where patrons and guests can choose their desired catch of the day and have it cooked to their specifications; and Fuego, a dinner venue serving Argentinian cuisine.
Speaking to Doha News, Ruwaida Abela, the hotel’s director of communications, said special care had been taken when sourcing ingredients and manpower for the restaurants.
“We want to ensure that we focus on authenticity, so in our Argentinian restaurant, the manager and his assistant is Argentinian. The chef is from Argentina, his assistants are from Argentina and the resident entertainment – a duet – has also been flown in from Argentina,” she said.
One restaurant that offers all-day dining is Sridan. The name alludes to an old Arabic word for a kitchen on a boat, and is a bazaar/souq-like venue with ten live buffet stations showcasing a variety of cuisines from around the world, priced at QR99 per person.
Other F&B outlets include the hotel’s lobby lounge, where beverages are served by waiters on bended knee, as per East Asian custom, and a pool bar.
Meanwhile, a Chinese restaurant and lounge housed on the hotel’s 43rd and 44th floor named “Shanghai Club” is scheduled to open in the coming months.
In terms of other offerings, the Shangri-La Doha also has a Chi spa that applies feng shui principles.
The spa includes several single and couple spa rooms, an outdoor leafy green enclave and a pool.
Similar pockets of greenery have also been installed at the hotel’s main pool area, which is surrounded by some 70 palm trees, Abela said.