Qatar has some of the region’s best hotels and its W, Sheraton and Intercontinental locations are among the most popular among travelers, according to an index of the country’s top hospitality properties.
Colliers International recently released its latest guest experience index, which assigns a score to hospitality chains based on both the ratings and comments left by guests on online review sites.
According to the rankings, the W was closely followed by the Sheraton, Intercontinental and Kempinski brands, the real estate firm said.
And overall, Doha hotels beat almost every other city in the region, collectively scoring 79 out of 100, which is higher than Dubai (77), Manama (75), Riyadh (75) and Muscat (74).
However, Doha did trail behind Abu Dhabi (81).
“Doha has one of the highest guest satisfaction scores in the GCC and Egypt,” said Filippo Sona, the head of hotels at Colliers, during a conference last week. “(It shows) hoteliers of Doha are doing something valuable.”
The index comes out a few weeks after the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) announced an overhaul of its hotel classification system that will put more emphasis on customer feedback in the form of online reviews.
QTA will now factor comments and ratings left on 130 hotel review websites such as Booking.com and TripAdvisor into its final grading report of local hotels, among other changes.
Lacking midscale hotels
Qatar’s five-star properties received a higher average score (85) than its four- (78) or three-star (70) hotels.
While luxury properties provide more services and amenities, they also charge more. This means they frequently have higher standards to live up to when guests evaluate whether they’ve received good value for money, which Sona said is one of several factors – in addition to room quality, service, location and cleanliness – that hotels are judged upon.
In its report, Colliers said the lower score in the three-star segment suggests that Doha has a lack of quality midscale hotels.
Local tourism industry officials have highlighted Qatar’s lack of affordable hospitality options for several years, but appear to have failed to entice many new budget operators to enter the market.
This may be in part because higher land and construction costs make constructing a hotel in Qatar 20 to 25 percent more expensive than the regional average, according to Cristina Zegrea – associate director of hospitality consulting firm HVS Dubai.
This steers hotel developers towards the luxury market, where they can charge higher rates and recoup their investment faster. It also explains why more than three-quarters of Qatar’s hotel rooms and serviced apartments are either four-star or five-star facilities, Zegrea said.
Speaking at last week’s Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, she added:
“The cost of developing hotels remains a challenge … and renders (low-end hotels) unfeasible.”
Colliers also found that Qatar’s hotels are heavily dependent on residents for business.
According to its report, people living inside the country left the second-highest number of reviews after those living in Saudi Arabia.
Philip Wooller, area director at hotel data firm STR Global and another speaker at last week’s conference, estimated that food and beverage sales make up, on average, 50 percent of a hotel’s revenues.
In other markets such as the UK, it’s typically between 20 and 30 percent, he told Doha News.
A major driving factor is that alcohol sales in Qatar are largely restricted to high-end hotels, he noted.
Sona said that local residents are “very important” to Qatar hotels, especially as the country works to build itself into a major tourist destination.
“(Residents) bring long-term sustainability (to hotels as more) guests (are) attracted to Qatar,” he said.