Browsing 'hospitality' News

All photos courtesy of Msheireb Properties

Construction of a new QR500 million luxury spa and hotel based on “Arabic and Islamic wellness principles” has commenced in northern Qatar.

The Zulal Wellness Resort, which was announced yesterday by Msheireb Properties, is being billed as the country’s “largest spa and wellness center.”

Spread across some 28 hectares on the northern tip of Qatar (about 120km from Doha), the resort will cater primarily to tourists.

Msheireb Properties

Zulal Resort

In a statement, Msheireb’s CEO Abdulla Hassan Al Mehshadi said:

“Zulal Wellness Resort will be a calm haven for international visitors where they can enjoy health and wellness experiences which bring a true taste of the region.

While strengthening our development portfolio, our latest project also brings vital investment to the country, enabling Qatar to grow its tourism sector.”

Work on the resort began in November, and the project is expected to be completed by the end of April 2018, the main contractor Al Sraiya Contracting said on its website.

What’s at Zulal

In addition to its beachfront, the resort will include separate housing facilities for tourists traveling with and without their families.

Msheireb Properties

Zulal Resort

Shared facilities will be accessible to people staying in both resorts.

Additionally, health and fitness will be encouraged in a “playful, interactive way” via family activities and classes for adults and kids.

“Utilizing herbs and ingredients which are indigenous to Qatar and the region, Zulal Wellness Resort will be the first wellness destination the region to bring focus to Islamic culture and values, and give international visitors a truly Middle-Eastern experience,” Msheireb said in its statement.

Crowded market

The Zulal development is the latest in a series of resorts being planned around Qatar. Many appear to be trying to woo the same type of clientele – Muslim families.

For example, just last year, the Simaisma Resort, also in northern Qatar, opened its doors to the public.

Simaisma Resort

Al Dana (three-bed) villa at the Simaisma resort

The alcohol-free development describes itself as a family getaway. It is run by the Murwab Hotel Group, the relaunched hotel operating arm of Katara Hospitality.

Meanwhile, another resort that’s coming up soon is the Vichy Célestins Spa Hotel by Retaj.

It will be located next to the Aqua Park on Salwa Road, around 30 minutes’ drive from central Doha, and about the same distance from the Qatar’s border with Saudi Arabia.


Vichy Célestins Spa Hotel by Retaj

Also dry, the resort will have a medical spa, an artificial lake and a waterfall. It was slated to open late last year, but has since been delayed.

Nearby, the Hilton Salwa Beach Resort & Villas, which is owned by Al Rayyan Hospitality, is being constructed on 257 acres of land.


Salwa beach resort rendering

It is expected to open in 2019. Features include a water park, marina, dive center, cinemas, pools, health club, spa and retail space.

Some 13 restaurants, bars and lounges are also planned.


All photos courtesy of Retaj

A new luxury spa resort that will likely cater to Saudi visitors is scheduled to open in the southern part of Qatar before year-end.

Billed as a five-star destination, the Vichy Célestins Spa Hotel by Retaj will be located next to the Aqua Park on Salwa Road, around 30 minutes’ drive from central Doha, and about the same distance from the nation’s border with Saudi Arabia.

This is the second luxury resort planned for that area.

Hilton’s Salwa Beach Resort & Villas is also coming up on Salwa Road near the Aqua Park and has reached “advanced stages” of completion, according to a Peninsula story last month.

Vichy offerings

When completed, the Vichy resort will have 78 rooms and suites and 90 villas that have between one and three bedrooms each, in addition to three restaurants, two cafes, jewelry shops, a hair salon, tennis courts and a fitness center.

The focus of the hotel will be a 3,500 sq m medical spa, which will specialize in weight loss programs, diabetes prevention and anti-aging treatments, according to a statement by operators Retaj Hotels and Hospitality.

There will also be a 4,000 square meter artificial lake, a waterfall and a network of six swimming pools connected by a 600m-long lazy river, in addition to an Olympic-sized pool and an indoor hydrotherapy pool, said Ijaz Malik, general manager of Hala Group, which owns the hotel.

Vichy will not be licensed to serve alcohol, a spokesman for Retaj Hotels told Doha News.

He added that it is scheduled to open its doors by the end of this year.

Hilton Salwa beach resort


Hilton Salwa beach resort

By comparison, the Hilton complex is expected to have a liquor license, but will not open until at least 2019.

That development will contain a 362-room resort 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.

Owned by Al Rayyan Hospitality, the Hilton resort will also have 13 restaurants, bars and lounges.

Saudi visitors

The proximity of both resorts to the Saudi border will no doubt woo more tourists from the Gulf country to Qatar.

Residents of the kingdom comprised one-quarter of all visitors here in early 2015, and their numbers jumped an additional 16 percent in the first quarter of this year.

Infinity pool at Simaisma Resort

Simaisma Resort

Infinity pool at Simaisma Resort

Other resorts that have opened in recent years include Banana Island and the Simaisma Resort, which soft-opened on Feb. 1.

Both are dry and cater to families.


Renovated deluxe room

Ritz-Carlton Doha

Renovated deluxe room

One of Doha’s landmark luxury hotels is approaching the halfway point of its two-year refurbishment program, officials there have said.

The 15-year-old Ritz-Carlton Doha, located near Lagoona Mall, began gutting and renovating more than half of its rooms and suites in September last year.

It is also revamping at least one restaurant and its spa facilities.

The renovations come at a time when more hotels, particularly in the luxury end of the market, are launching in Qatar, putting pressure on existing establishments to remain attractive to guests.

The first phase of works is due to wrap up by late summer, and then a second stage of renovations to the remaining 174 rooms will get underway, a hotel spokesperson told Doha News.

As it nears the midway point, the hotel has shared some “sneak-peek” images with Doha News of what some rooms will look like when the renovations are complete.

Renovated suite receiving area

Ritz-Carlton Doha

Renovated suite receiving area

The Katara Hospitality-owned hotel, which opened in 2001, will stay open to guests and the public throughout the works, officials said.

What’s happening

As part of its “large-scale transformation,” the Ritz-Carlton is first focusing on overhauling the top-half of the building, including 200 of its rooms and suites, the club lounge, La Mer restaurant and Level 23 bar.

That restaurant is currently closed to the public, but the bar remains open for private events, the hotel’s marketing manager Chu Wong told Doha News.

The hotels’ spa, gym and fitness areas are also being revamped. Guests can still book treatments in temporary facilities while the work is taking place.

Ritz-Carlton lobby

Jan Smith/Flickr

Ritz-Carlton lobby

Phase two of the renovation, expected to start around September, will include an update of the other 174 rooms.

In a statement last year, the hotel said its overhaul would create a “contemporary residential look,” combining modern furniture with “opulent” surroundings.

“The guestrooms will introduce warm colors, textiles and prints incorporating floor parquetry, lightly hued paint colors, plush rugs and drapery, new contemporary furnishing, and latest state-of-the-art technology,” it added.

A new signature color, a light blue that the hotel calls “memorable blue,” will be used in the color scheme throughout, Wong added.

When the hotel announced the commencement of the refurbishment last year, it said all works would be completed by mid-2017.

However, there is no timeline yet for when renovations to the lobby, other restaurants, ballrooms and function areas may take place.

More competition

This year, the total number of hotel rooms in Qatar is expected to near 20,000, a 25 percent increase in just 12 months.

As supply grows, hospitality analysts have forecast that room rates will drop by around 3 percent this year, to reach an average of US$191 (QR696) by the end of 2016.

This would be the fourth year in a row that hotels have lowered their rates, although they are still making healthy profits.

Meanwhile, figures from the Qatar Tourism Authority show that average room occupancy rates are down to 70 percent during the first three months of this year, compared to 84 percent in the first quarter of 2015.

Given the new kids on the block, some of Qatar’s older hotels have been undergoing facelifts in a bid to keep up-to-date.

Renovated lobby of Sheraton Hotel

Chantelle D'mello

Renovated lobby of Sheraton Hotel

In April 2014 for example, the iconic Sheraton Hotel closed to the public for a nine-month refurbishment.

The revamp included adding glass roof panels to the main lobby, a change of color-scheme and updating of bedrooms, suites and the conference facilities.

The Radisson-Blu Hotel, which was the Ramada, has also had its facade updated in recent years.