Art & Culture
Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels
Where Luxury Meets Tradition
July 02, 2012
The Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels, owned and managed by Al Rayyan Hospitality, is a collection of six luxury boutique hotels comprising between 14 and 37 rooms each. The hotels are speckled across Doha’s historic Souq Waqif, offering guests a unique blend of authentic Qatari hospitality and modern facilities.
As a member of Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels’ executive committee and Director of Sales and Marketing, Mr. Russell Loughland is contributing to the development and leading the positioning of these eccentric and distinctive hotels. With years of experience working for big brands in the global hospitality industry, Loughland moved to Qatar six months ago to be part of the Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels which he refers to as “an exclusive collection of luxury boutique hotels in the heart of the most authentic tourist destination within the GCC.”
Indeed, the uniqueness of these hotels stems from their location. According to Loughland, “The project strongly leverages on the cultural surroundings, as the Souq Waqif area represents an authentically local national treasure which has maintained its historic and cultural significance as an old marketplace throughout the years, thus helping the boutique hotels develop a local traditional identity.”
As part of this setting, Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels are renovations of a number of buildings in the Souq, altered into exclusive modern accommodations of high standards, while preserving the past traditional identities of these buildings to provide a sense of heritage. In Loughland’s words, the six boutique hotels are “quintessentially different from each other” – a feature he believes enhances the unique and distinctive concept of the project. Hence, the boutique hotels are marketed under the slogan “choose your own flavor”, noting that no matter what background guests come from or what drive stands behind their stay, they will find a hotel that responds to their taste within the rich variety of choices offered to them.
Of the six luxury boutique hotels, four are operational and two will be launched within the next few months. Al Najada Boutique Hotel, designed as typically Arabian, is a reincarnation of a building originally completed in 1930, preserving the heritage of Qatar and the country’s local architecture. On the other hand, Arumaila Boutique Hotel flaunts a more of a contemporary concept based on a dynamic, à la mode theme, characterized by its vibrant décor and ambiance. Musheireb Boutique Hotel embraces yet a different concept reflecting the authentic Qatari culture; it targets guests looking for an elegant, yet traditional retreat. Al Mirqab Boutique Hotel, the fourth exclusive hotel belonging to Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels, stands as the ideal venue for moderate-scale corporate events and family celebrations.
To render the guest-experience all the more luxurious and intimate, each boutique hotel accommodates two or three body treatment rooms. Loughland disclosed that they are currently in the process of initiating an agreement with an Indonesian company to manage the provision of various treatment services. This is, of course, in line with the company’s concept of providing guests with a variety of choices. As such, Swedish spa rooms will be found neighboring a typical Arabian Hammam within the same boutique hotel.
Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels provides food and beverage outlets to complement the tailored hospitality services. Out of 12 food and beverage outlets, seven are currently operational. As noted by Loughland, the restaurants reflect the attitude of the boutique hotels and endorse the same concept.
The great variety of food and beverage outlets within the six boutique hotels range from the impressive fine dining restaurant at Al Najada Boutique Hotel, called The Dining Room, which offers a seven course degustation menu and an à la carte menu, to The Canteen at Arumaila Boutique Hotel which offers a quality selection of sandwiches, burgers, and soups using only the highest-quality ingredients. The spectrum of cuisines presented include American-style grill with grilled tenderloin and freshly delivered lobster, served at The Rooftop Grill at the Arumaila Boutique Hotel. Middle Eastern cuisine is served at The Mataam restaurant, located in the Musheireb Boutique Hotel. The East restaurant, located in the Al Mirqab Boutique Hotel, offers an international fusion of Mediterranean, Arabic, and Japanese cuisines with a Persian twist. The Courtyard, an informal hip and funky café at Al Najada Boutique Hotel, offers light meals as well as an innovative à la carte selection of fusion cuisine. Loughland also mentioned a soon-to-be-opened Moroccan restaurant, with authentic cuisine to be cooked by Moroccan chefs.
According to Loughland, the operational side of the business relies on a truly brilliant and international staff. “Although our staff members represent various nationalities, we recognize the importance of employing Qataris to manage development as we are a Qatari company,” he said, referring to the ethos of the company while recruiting, which consists of hiring the attitude and training the skills to encourage and drive development.
While acknowledging the high level of competition present in the market, Loughland asserted his conviction in the Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels, which he believes is well-equipped to stand out amidst a sea of big competitors. His confidence stems from the presence of the fundamental, client-centered, tailor-made, personalized services the company offers to ensure that customers’ needs are not only met, but also surpassed.
While the focus of the business is currently concentrated on the local market, Al Rayyan Hospitality aims to make the Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels a primary sought-after destination by corporate and leisure travelers, Westerns or Arabs. The strategic vision of the company is to extend to the GCC and the international market, and to operate on a global scale by developing a number of hotels in various parts of the world such as Adria, Al Rayyan Hospitality’s new 25-bedroom-hotel which will open this summer in London. Loughland believes Adria will act as a great magnet for Qataris visiting London.