All photos courtesy of Simaisma Resort
Amid attempts to broaden Qatar’s tourism appeal, a new resort has opened to the public in the seaside town of Simaisma, north of Doha.
The Simaisma Resort, which soft-opened on Feb. 1, describes itself as a family getaway and is run by the Murwab Hotel Group, a recently relaunched hotel operating arm of Katara Hospitality.
It is the first in a new series of hotels run by the group that is expected to open in the coming years, and is one of few hotels currently operating outside of Qatar’s capital.
The ones that are include the long-established Sealine Beach Resort near Mesaieed, which has been undergoing some refurbishment to upgrade their rooms.
There’s also Al Sultan Beach Resort by Al Khor and Banana Island resort as the main options for a staycation outside of the city for now, although there are plans for additional developments in the coming years.
The alcohol-free resort includes accommodation in two, three and four-bedroom villas (although the three-bedroom ones are not yet open for reservations), which have sea, pool or resort views.
Each villa has a fitted kitchen, living room and dining area, and the four-bed residences also have access to a private swimming pool.
In addition to the main swimming pool, there’s a children’s pool, gym, spa and health club, basketball court and tennis courts.
Construction on a marina for the hotel is also underway and this is expected to open in around three months’ time, the resort’s revenue and reservations manager Mahmoud El Khouly told Doha News.
In the initial opening phase, the pool-side Infinity restaurant and the Mokha coffee shop serve drinks and snacks. An all-day, buffet restaurant Awtar is set to open up in around three weeks.
There is also a children’s play area, although no supervised kids’ club.
While the resort capitalizes on its sea-side location, the nearby beach is rocky and not for guests’ use, El Khouly said.
“This is a family resort. So far, 99 percent of the families who have come to stay with us are local, but anyone is welcome,” he added.
Qatar Tourism Authority has ambitious plans to expand the state’s offering to attract more up to 7.4 million visitors by 2030, from the near-3 million last year under the national tourism strategy.
A total of 69 new tourist establishments – 56 hotels and 13 apartment-hotels – will be built in the next five years, before Qatar hosts the World Cup in 2022.
Of those, some 20 new hotels are planned to open during 2016, although these are mostly in central Doha.
One of the resorts planned for outside of the capital is the Hilton Salwa Beach Resort & Villas, which will be located off Salwa Road approximately 15 minutes from the Saudi Arabian border.
The 362-room resort, owned by Al Rayyan Hospitality, will be constructed on 257 acres of land. There are plans to include a water park, marina, dive center, cinemas, pools, health club, spa and considerable retail space in addition to its beach.
When it was first announced in June 2014, its developers forecast it would open to the public by the end of 2019.
More details about the Simaisma resort can be found on its website, where reservations can also be made.
Note: This article has been corrected to reflect that Sealine’s resort has not closed for renovations – it is remaining open throughout its refurbishment.