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Katara Hospitality leads innovation in Qatar’s hotel industry

Katara Hospitality is a global hotel owner, developer and operator based in Qatar. With over 40 years’ experience in the industry, the company is increasingly being recognised as one of the world’s leading hospitality organisations

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Sheraton Doha Resort and Conference Hotel, which was opened by Katara Hospitality in 1982. The global hotel owner has dramatically enhanced Qatar's hospitality sector
Sheraton Doha Resort and Conference Hotel, which was opened by Katara Hospitality in 1982. The global hotel owner has dramatically enhanced Qatar's hospitality sector 

Katara Hospitality has undergone considerable change and growth since it was established in 1970. For over 40 years, the company has been investing in peerless hotels in Qatar and growing its collection of iconic properties in key international markets, all the while ensuring that its valuable roots are maintained. Today, with these principles still in mind, the company has its sights set on a glorious future.

Katara Hospitality’s success has been built through years of hard work and strategic planning. From its outset, the company implemented a pioneering approach in developing the hospitality landscape in Qatar.

A strong start
Since it was set up, the company has been at the forefront of Qatar’s hospitality development. The firm has witnessed a series of firsts since its creation, when the government of Qatar established it as Qatar National Hotels (QNH). This company became the managing force behind The Gulf Hotel (now the Doha Marriott); the country’s first five-star hotel. Subsequent hotel openings included the Sheraton Doha in 1982 (Qatar’s first internationally branded hotel), the Ritz-Carlton in Doha (the tallest building in Qatar when it opened in 2001) and the Sealine Beach Resort (the first leisure resort in Qatar). Sharq Village and Spa was then the first luxury resort in the country, with the Six Senses Spa being the largest of its kind in the region.

As of the end of 2014, the company already had 30 hotels in operation or under development

2006 saw the company undertake its first international venture with the acquisition of the Renaissance Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt. The year 2012 then marked another major milestone in the company’s history when, during a wave of strategic expansion, it seized the opportunity to redefine the brand. QNH was renamed Katara Hospitality, allowing for the substantial growth of not only the firm’s already expanding portfolio, but of Qatar’s reputation as a key player in the global tourism market.

The rebranding allowed the creation of a completely new corporate identity for the company, generated by the adoption of a name that was vastly more relevant to the company’s international expansion plans. The word ‘Catara’ dates back to 150 AD and was originally used by ancient cartographers to refer to the area known today as the Qatar Peninsula, before European cartographers began using the spelling ‘Katara’ in the first half of the 18th century.

Surpassing expectations
As the company launched its growth plan, it set itself a target of managing 30 properties by 2016. Since then, in a dedicated mission to achieve this goal, Katara Hospitality has accomplished significant milestones in acquisition, investment, development and operations. As of the end of 2014, the company already had 30 hotels in operation or under development, and therefore met its long established goal a full two years ahead of schedule. As Qatar’s flagship hospitality organisation, Katara Hospitality is worth tens of billions of dollars and has more than 6,500 rooms in 12 countries across three continents.

As Katara Hospitality now looks towards its next target of adding another 30 properties to its portfolio by 2026, it approaches its strategic expansion from two different perspectives – in Qatar itself, the company has shaped the hospitality landscape for over four decades and is now a significant part of the infrastructure that is fundamental to the country’s development. When investing abroad, however, the organisation acts as the hospitality flagship of the country, representing an industry that is an essential factor in Qatar’s economic diversification.

Keen on preserving hospitality heritage, the company acquires spectacular properties that once set the standards in the sector and years later still represent some kind of legacy. Katara Hospitality then further invests in these historically iconic hotels to restore them to their former glory, turning them into thriving businesses while ensuring that their history is respected and preserved.

Collecting gems
International properties such as The Peninsula Paris, InterContinental Carlton Cannes, Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris, Raffles Singapore and The Savoy in London – as well as upcoming hotels such as the Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne and Royal Savoy Lausanne – are, or will be, jewels of the global hospitality industry, and are all part of the distinguished Katara Hospitality portfolio.

When it comes to the strategy for investing abroad, Katara Hospitality does not focus only on acquiring existing iconic properties. In line with its commitment to preserving heritage, the company also creates new icons by turning assets that were designed for other purposes into true hospitality gems. The Tazi Palace in Tangier, for example, was originally designed to be a royal residence, but will soon be transformed into a luxurious palace hotel. An establishment will be created within the original building’s magnificent shell, with an extension tastefully added to complement the historic structure’s refurbishment.

Katara Hospitality is a company with a sound financial background and a clear outlook on its projected business path. As it continues to expand its footprint across the world, Katara Hospitality follows a healthy diversification strategy, aiming to create a network of four- and five-star business hotels and leisure resorts in some of the world’s key
tourist destinations.

This business-driven approach ensures that a balance is met across assets of both short- and long-term profitability, and that the company’s cash flow projections adequately support its development. At the same time, when engaging in a project, one of Katara Hospitality’s main priorities is to look for something truly unique – something that sets it apart from the rest of the already massive hotel industry. By always taking into account the return that the hotel is likely to yield, each new property attained by the company adds an exceptional new dimension to the business.

The Six Senses Spa at Sharq Village and Spa
The Six Senses Spa at Sharq Village and Spa

An eclectic portfolio
Currently, the properties owned and managed by Katara Hospitality form an eclectic portfolio of hotels that cover a series of customer demands; from those of high end business travellers to more cost-conscious ones. All the while, the properties also cater to the needs of the MICE segment and offer guests outstanding recreational facilities.

In line with the Qatar National Vision 2030, which aims to lead the country on its path of economic diversification through recognition of the increasing demands for international business tourism, Katara Hospitality is also focusing on developing a new network of first class business hotels. Its Murwab Hotels brand will be at the forefront of this development.

The firm’s contributions to the hospitality landscape have been recognised on a global scale, leading to the company winning a number of awards. Just recently, Katara Hospitality was named the World’s Leading Hospitality Company at the 2014 World Travel Awards, after being previously recognised as the Middle East’s Leading Hospitality Development Company in May 2014 and the World’s Leading Hospitality Company in December 2013. The company has also received significant regional recognition, being named the Hospitality Company of the Year at the fifth Arabian Business Qatar Awards and the 2014 Hospitality Achiever at the Inaugural Qatar Enterprise Agility Awards.

Such achievements have propelled the organisation into the global spotlight, meaning that the Katara Hospitality brand is now increasingly and internationally associated with excellence in hospitality development. As it continues to produce iconic hotels across the globe, Katara Hospitality is developing a reputation as a Qatari organisation that brings heritage properties up to a world class, modern standard in key international destinations. With its collection of award-winning hotels, Katara Hospitality is investing today for future generations, with properties that are currently under renovation or development already set to redefine the standards in the global hospitality industry.

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