By Joseph Varghese/Staff Reporter
Qatar-based hospitality giant Katara Hospitality is to develop an island near the Ritz-Carlton Doha as an international tourist spot and open hotels in Paris and Milan in the coming months.
Katara Hospitality CEO Hamad Abdulla al-Mulla told Gulf Times in an interview on the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai that the island, owned by the group near Ritz, would be either developed as a fashion centre or a medical tourism hub. He also said that Katara Hospitality planned to launch about 10 hotels in the next 10 years.
“The hotel in Paris will be opened in the first week of June and in September this year another hotel in Milan will be launched. Katara Hospitality is the only group that is opening so many hotels each year in the recent times.”
Al-Mulla said the group was ready to operate the Milan hotel at any time. “From our side we are ready and we have got all the requirements to start the hotel. If there is any delay from the contractor’s side, we will open it by the first quarter of 2014.”
He further said the island off Doha would be developed into a “unique” project. “We are exploring the possibility of turning it into a unique place so that people from all over the world will fly to Qatar to experience it. We are looking for the possibilities of turning it into a fashion centre or medical tourism place or any such grand project which will be known internationally. Once we finalise the project, we will entrust it to the right people to develop it .”
He disclosed that Doha Sheraton would be closed for major renovation and rebranded once the work was completed. “Doha Sheraton will be closed for two years for major renovation from 2014-2016. Once the renovation is completed, it will be rebranded but the operator will continue to be the same.”
As for the Lusail project, al-Mulla said it would be completed according to schedule. “The Lusail hotel will be the landmark of Qatar and Katara Hospitality. It will be completed, latest by early 2017. At any cost we will start operations from 2017.”
He said that the hotel would be operated by Katara Hospitality. “We will be operating the hotel and we want to show to others that we can do it like any other operator. Similarly, we will be operating other hotels under our group in later years.”
The CEO said Katara Hospitality had property worth QR150bn. “The group will have around 6,000 employees by 2014.”
As for the projects in Gambia and Maldives, al-Mulla said the group was ready to start the projects. “However, we are evaluating the market and studying the feasibility before starting the project. According to the market evaluation, we will start the project. We will be there very soon.”
Operational hotels like Raffles Singapore, Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris, Schweizerhof Bern and upcoming hotels like Excelsior Gallia Milan, Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne, Royal Savoy Lausanne or The Peninsula Paris are hospitality jewels that are now part of Katara Hospitality portfolio.Page 10