Four Seasons Doha ready to fight for top spot

Group invests in revamp and new outlets to take competition 'head on'

Management, Four seasons doha, Four seasons hotel doha, Simon casson

The Four Seasons Hotel Doha is ready to take on the increasingly competitive hotel market in Qatar, according to regional vice president and general manager at Four Seasons Doha, Simon Casson.

Aside from a rooms refurbishment, the property’s owners have invested US $5 million in a new restaurant called Nusantao: Sea Kitchens, an Asian-fusion outlet that focuses on the cuisines of Japan, Thailand, China, Indian and Indonesia.

“What we realised, probably in the Middle East more importantly than maybe big urban Western cities, F&B in the hotel is a key signature of the hotel,” Casson explained.

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“It is what draws people to the hotel and we are excited to have just opened that in Doha.”

Casson said the property had had a robust strategy in place to deal with the increase in competition many years ago.

“Strategy by virtue means if you are thinking about it now then it’s too late. Three years ago we planned our rooms renovation and the owner invested $10 million in the hotel over the past year,” he explained.

This investment has included “significant rebranding” of the restaurants, lounges and cigar bar as well as a complete soft refurbishment of all the rooms.

“If you have new sparkly, quality product coming into the market you don’t want to look average by comparison or tired and old,” Casson continued.

Aside from the physical product on offer, he added that the team at the hotel had “day-by-day earned the reputation for being the service leaders in the market”.

“They have worked hard to do so and I think that’s what Four Seasons is renowned for - to be able to bring a culture and ethos into a hotel, a soul if you like that the guests feel is different and not necessarily with wow things - we don’t have people with white gloves throwing petals at your feet as you walk in,” he asserted.

However, Casson warned that increased inventory could quickly cut any gains the hotel had made.

“When we came it was a $150 market and I think we pioneered and reinvented that market,” he said.

“We came in with a great location, a very strong product, the Four Season brand and over two years brought that market up to what it is today with average rates in the high end of around $450. I think the big danger is when you have dramatic supply increase like we are now us that you can very quickly lose those gains.

“With such relatively static demand and significant supply there’s going to be dilution in the market, so whoever is best at what they do is going to try and grab disproportionate share to protect their business and some others are going to suffer greatly.”

But the increased competition hasn’t dulled any further ambition for Four Seasons in Qatar. All the ground work has just been completed for Four Seasons Doha at the Pearl and the tenders are out for the above ground construction with doors expected to open by the end of 2014.

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