Author: Hamad Abdulla Al-Mulla, CEO, Katara Hospitality
8 Dec 2016
Katara Hospitality is a global hotel owner, developer and operator based in Qatar, with more than 45 years of experience and a growing portfolio of incredible luxury landmark hotels across the world. The organisation was established in 1970 by the Government of Qatar to undertake the establishment of tourist attractions, in collaboration with local and foreign private sector firms. In 2012, the company was renamed from Qatar National Hotels to Katara Hospitality in order to reflect the company’s heritage and international expansion plans, including investing in remarkable hotels in Qatar while growing a portfolio of iconic hotels in key global markets. As the country’s flagship hospitality organisation, Katara Hospitality supports Qatar’s long-term economic vision.
The hospitality group has adopted a pioneering approach from the start, and has marked a series of firsts, including the Gulf Hotel – now the Doha Marriott – becoming Qatar’s first five-star hotel in 1973. With the opening of the Sheraton Grand Doha Resort and Convention Hotel in 1982, the company introduced Qatar’s very first internationally branded five-star hotel. The Ritz-Carlton, Doha was the tallest building in Qatar when it opened in 2001. Then came the Sealine Beach Resort, Qatar’s first leisure resort, followed by Sharq Village and Spa – the first luxury resort in the country – featuring the Six Senses Spa, which was the largest of its kind in the region at the time.
Having been at the forefront of the hospitality industry for more than 45 years, Katara Hospitality has played an instrumental role in shaping the hospitality landscape which, today, is part of the national infrastructure that grows alongside the country’s development. When investing abroad, the organisation is the hospitality flagship of the country, representing an industry that is perceived as an essential sector in Qatar’s economic diversification.
The hospitality trade in Qatar is set to soar, and this is largely driven by the country’s ‘Vision 2030’ programme, which aims to lead the country on a path of economic diversification, recognising the increasing demand in international business tourism. Therefore, Katara Hospitality’s mission is to preserve existing industry heritage within Qatar, while also acquiring spectacular international properties that once set the standards in the sector and today carry significant prestige.
The organisation’s aim is to further invest in these iconic historic hotels in order to restore them to their former glory and turn them into thriving businesses, while ensuring their hospitality heritage is secured.
The hotels owned by Katara Hospitality form an eclectic portfolio that caters to high-end business travellers and more cost-conscious ones
Accordingly, Katara Hospitality does not just focus on acquiring hallmark properties: it is also creating hospitality icons from scratch and turning assets designed for other purposes into true hospitality gems. Tazi Palace in Tangier is a great example: the property was originally designed to become a royal residence, but will now be transformed into a luxurious palace hotel. Each property represents a hospitality icon, strengthening Qatar’s reputation as a key player in the global tourism market.
Katara Hospitality has a rich portfolio of properties spread across three continents, in Qatar, Egypt, Morocco, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Singapore and Thailand. This strategic development strategy has positioned the organisation as an international frontrunner in the hospitality sector, and Katara Hospitality is increasingly being recognised as an organisation that is pushing the boundaries of industry excellence.
The company is now focusing on its next strategic target of expanding its portfolio of iconic hotels to 60 properties by 2026, after surpassing its previous target of 30 properties by 2016 two years early.
While Katara Hospitality strives to partner with some of the finest hotel management companies, it also owns a standalone operating division, Murwab Hotel Group, which was launched early in 2015. The group manages an international collection of boutique upscale hotels and brands offering contemporary hospitality steeped in cultural heritage. Murwab Hotel Group manages properties under its three main areas of business: Murwab Hotels, the Bürgenstock Selection, and a collection of independent non-branded upscale properties.
The global hospitality landscape remains competitive, with reports of recent major acquisitions further calling for strategic evolution on the part of globally renowned hospitality players. Katara Hospitality is an experienced investor in the hospitality sector, with a dynamic team that understands the distinctive needs of the markets within which the company operates. It continues to partner with trusted brands that share its pursuit for excellence, its core values, and its strategic intent as an organisation. The economic challenges faced by the organisation are much like those encountered by all other major players within the competitive luxury hotel sector.
As the organisation expands its footprint across the world, Katara Hospitality is following a healthy diversification strategy, aiming to create a network of five and four-star business hotels and leisure resorts in key tourist destinations. This business-driven approach ensures a balance is met across assets of short and long-term profitability, and that the organisation’s cash flow projections adequately support its development. At the same time, when engaging in a project, the organisation always looks for something special, something that sets it apart. Each new property adds an extra dimension to the business, while considering the return the hotel is likely to yield.
Katara Hospitality is following a healthy diversification strategy, aiming to create a network of five and four-star business hotels and leisure resorts in key tourist destinations
Growing the business is a key priority for any company, and the next natural step for Katara Hospitality was to step into key international locations. Expanding internationally is no easy feat, but throughout the process of expansion, the organisation has been sure to stay true to its strategy of investing in true icons that represent heritage and pure luxury.
The hotels owned and managed by Katara Hospitality in Qatar form an eclectic portfolio that cater to demand from high-end business travellers and more cost-conscious ones, through to the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions segment, as well as recreational facilities.
Qatar meets the world
Katara Hospitality believes in the growth of the hospitality sector, not only for the present, but also for the future, in order to create a legacy Qatar can be proud of. The development of iconic hotels across the country will firmly put Qatar on the map as a world-class international destination, and one that will continue to attract travellers for generations to come.
The organisation constantly aspires to create an extraordinary legacy that is aligned with its commitment to preserve history and heritage. Katara Hospitality takes immense pride in the challenge of revamping buildings that carry fascinating history into remarkable hospitality complexes, while offering an authentic cultural experience throughout the journey of the guests in the hotel.
Katara Hospitality is also aligned with the wider values and objectives of the Vision 2030 programme. The organisation works with Qatari high-school graduates, as well as undergraduates at Qatar University and Stenden University, encouraging them to pursue a career in the hospitality sector. These initiatives undertaken by the organisation are part of a larger project to develop a dynamic and efficient workforce for Qatar.
Recently, Katara Hospitality introduced Katara Specialties, a contemporary initiative designed to highlight the evolution of the organisation’s food and beverage concepts. It serves to create authentic Qatari cuisine within all Katara Hospitality’s local and international hotels. The concept has been created to showcase the richness of Qatari heritage and Arabian hospitality, while adding to the diverse range of enriching dining experiences for our esteemed guests.