By Anand Holla
In a glittering affair befitting the glory of being crowned as “grand”, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts announced the designation of Sheraton Doha Resort & Convention Hotel as a Sheraton Grand Hotel, last week.
As dignitaries and special guests poured in to witness the welcoming of Doha’s iconic hotel into the brand’s new premier tier of hotels recognised for their “enticing destinations, distinguished designs, and excellence in service and guest experiences”, Sheraton Doha joined 21 other Sheraton Grand properties in the world.
As the oldest of Qatar’s five-star hotels attained a critical milestone, Community sat down for a chat with Nick Heath, General Manager, Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel, to know more:
Nick Heath; US ambassador to Qatar Dana Shell Smith; Michael Wale, President for Europe, Africa & Middle East for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.; Guido De Wilde, Senior Vice President And Regional Director - Middle East, Starwood Hotels And Resorts Worldwide Inc. at the event last week.
With Sheraton Doha becoming Sheraton Grand, can this be seen as a complete reinvention of the brand?
If you look at Sheraton as a brand, globally, it’s very strong. Knowing that we have some Sheratons that exemplify the Sheraton culture, we have been looking at how to create an elevated tier and that’s where Sheraton Grand comes in. Now Sheraton Doha is part of 21 hotels worldwide which have been recognised for the qualities of design, location, superior facilities and amenities. We are able to evolve ourselves with Sheraton Grand, which has been great because we have just been through over 30 years of excellence serving the community and the international traveller. We have just been through a full, extensive renovation, and so as we have emerged from that, it’s perfect timing for us to recognise the hotel for Qatar and Doha as a Sheraton Grand.
The Sheraton Doha holds special significance and nostalgic value to the people of Qatar. Are you trying to rekindle older connections while reaching out for the new?
We have welcomed everyone over the years, and we are now looking at welcoming the third generation. When you look at the history, yes, the hotel is one of the oldest luxury hotels, but on the other hand, it’s probably the most iconic in the Gulf by design. So I think the pride comes from Qatar emerging as this global destination and Doha being part of that. Moreover, the fact remains that it’s not just another building or another hotel, it’s an exciting landmark.
Whenever you see the shape of the hotel, you know how to get around town. That’s really important. Over the years, so many of the royalty and so many families of Qatar have been married here. I think it holds a cherished place in the hearts of the people of Qatar.
Given this knowledge, what is the main task at hand for you?
For us, it’s about how do we bring people back to experience, and how do we reignite with our customers. Every week, we have a lot of weddings, events, which means people are often in and around the hotel. It’s really comfortable for them. Our atrium lounge at the dome where we have now relaunched our afternoon tea also exemplifies this kind of comfort zone, a place where people can relax and socialise.
I think we are a social icon, a business icon, and we have the largest hotel meeting and convention facilities so we do large-scale events. We are very connected to the government because of the scale we offer, and therefore, we hold a lot of high-profile, international, local and GCC-region events of the government. For us, that this is the number one hotel brings a certain pride to the nation.
With the amount of hotels cropping up and the ensuing competition, how does Sheraton plan to stand out?
There are two ways of looking at supply and demand – if the supply is growing, we have to grow demand. Together in partnership with our company as well as others and Qatar Tourism Authority, we know how to bring new market and new travellers. We have to promote the destination, which means we need more supply. On the upside, we have scale, distribution and opportunity. So if we look at the positives of how to build out the hospitality industry ready for the visitors that we are envisaging and hoping – whether they are from the GCC, Europe, Asia, Russia, or China – then we can look to grow and develop the importance. Especially with the World Cup 2022 coming up, I think everybody is highly excited and building some great, beautiful hotels and iconic landmarks and we are part of a history of that.
How does Sheraton envision achieving the high benchmarks that it’s setting for itself?
We have a storied history. For us, we have to maintain our legacy and keep working hard. We must have that commitment that we can really ensure we shine and everybody who visits is served well. We must have that grand positioning as well as that grand execution. That’s what we do and what we are proud and passionate about. It’s about how we make that emotional connection with our guests – whether it be through food in their stomachs, or through design and architecture.
We want to attract a number of different lifestyle events, and have people enjoy our restaurants and experience the world through Sheraton. We have restaurants serving cuisines from Latin American to Mediterranean. I think you can visit Sheraton, and feel that you have experienced the world of hospitality. We are looking forward to serving the community.
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