Tuesday, February 02, 2016

I'm Promoting Tourism to Qatar

Sometimes in the middle of all my complaining and ranting about every-day life, I forget how truly blessed I am to be able to do some of the things that I get to do.  Like this trip (courtesy of my job).  I try to be grateful for every little thing and then something big like this comes along and it just wows me...

As I said in my previous post, I love it there and I am really looking forward to going back (Qatar Airways just reduced their economy ticket for the 50 minute flight to Doha to KD 61.)   There are so many activities and events going on in Qatar and I am pleasantly surprised by it all.

Below are all the properties and places I visited (with links to their websites) during my brief 3-and-a-half-day trip to Qatar.  (We were busy from 7:30 am to 10:30 pm which is how we were able to do so much.  Thank you, Qatar Tourism Authority!)

Located on a crescent-shaped island and accessible by their fleet of shuttle boats, Banana Island Resort (which you are probably hearing a lot about) is lovely, but no alcohol is allowed – either at the resort or brought in by guests (limiting their market).  All staff members seem to be trained to say, "Salam alaykum" to guests as you pass by.   The above-water villas also don’t have direct access down to the sea nor do they have in-floor “windows” to the water below.  The resort does offer many family-friendly activities (wave pool, bowling, cinemas) has an amazingly beautiful/tranquil spa with views over the sea.  Also several restaurants and the food was very good.

Villa at Banana Island Resort, Qatar
Looks like Malaysia, right?
Standard bathtubs at Banana Island (me WANTS!)

Outdoor seating area in over-water villa next to private pool

Marsa Malaz Kempinski is a true luxury hotel on it's own man-made island, so that every room faces the water (all rooms have balconies).  Every room has a butler at your service. You walk into the hotel through a very large atrium with high chandeliers over decorative marble floors.  Located on the Pearl (which, unfortunately, is not close to the downtown center), it will have the largest nightclub (500 pax) in Qatar opening in February.  The artwork at the Kempinski is phenomenal.  There are 6M Qatari Riyals worth of Dale Chihuly (same artist who created the chandeliers at 360 Mall, Kuwait) chandeliers in the lobby alone!


Dale Chihuly Art at Kempinski
Entrance to Kempinski
Dale Chihuly Chandeliers

Four Seasons – standard Four Seasons high quality and luxury in a beautifully landscaped beachfront property.   Houses the famous Nobu (sushi) Restaurant on a peninsula off the long beach of the hotel.  Well landscaped pool area.  Cigar bar.  The rooms with sea views are extraordinary with doors that open so you can awaken to the sea.

View from a room at the Four Seasons

Beach front area at Four Seasons - Nobu on Right Top
Four Seasons pool area

Four Seasons pool area
Shangri-La Hotel is a cross between Asian and Middle Eastern décor and food selection.  Their rooms had the only welcome tray (really nicely done touch with dates, fresh fruit and sweets).  Nice spa.  It is adjacent to the City Center mall (there will be direct access to the mall soon).  Next to the Convention Center.  The service at the Shangri-La was outstanding. All the staff members just seemed genuinely happy to be there.

Welcoming tray at Shangri La

King bed at Shangri-La
Rotana is next to the Shangri-La. Also adjacent to the City Center Mall.  Next to the Convention Center.  The Rotana is perhaps a lower-cost alternative but still quite comfortable.

The Westin will open in April.  It is huge and very pretty.  Has the largest convention hall in Doha at 1700 theater-style.  Beautiful landscaping.  Villa rooms with private pools.  Wave pool on property next to their Thai restaurant.  It was in a strange area, however.  Not close to most attractions and driving in it does not allow for a 5-star first impression (once inside, however, that changes).
One of the Westin's pretty walkways
DoubleTree –   Walking distance to old town area.  The café (Open Café) has surprisingly amazingly good food for a hotel café – truly a 6-star meal in a cafe environment. 

And by the by - the hotels serve alcohol.

The Qatar Tourism Authority used Qatar International Adventures as their tour operator for our trip.  I was impressed by the quality of activities and their professionalism.  Check out their packages online. They are reasonable and I highly recommend the Msheireb Museum  tour, Katara Cultural village tour (with a stop to L'wzaar seafood restaurant inside Katara), and desert adventure (winter).

Souq Waqif is a must-see.  Similar to Mubarakia in Kuwait, Souq Waqif is an old souq with small alleys, shops and restaurants.  Most of the restaurants are more upscale than Mubarakia, however.  Souq Waqif also houses several small, boutique hotels if you would like to stay in the heart of the old-town area.  The Souq also provides activities and festivals throughout the year (LINK and LINK).

Souq Waqif

Bird houses at Katara

One of the old houses at Msheireb Museum
A listing of Qatar Events can be found HERE.

Visa requirements to Qatar can easily be looked up HERE.  Most Western nationalities can purchase a visa upon arrival at the airport.


Exotic Kuwait- Derrick said...

Wow......just wow. and your photography skills are on fleeeeeek xD

James Sanborn said...

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Desert Safari in Doha