Since opening its doors in October 2001 the Ritz-Carlton Doha has set the standards of the local hospitality industry. This summer the Four Seasons opened in the Qatari capital, and no less than 37 new hotel projects are in the pipeline. But the Ritz-Carlton welcomes the competition.
'We are very happy to have some new neighbors,' says Acting General Manager Andrew Turner. 'Doha is a rapidly expanding market, mainly for commercial rather than leisure travel, and we have been experiencing very high occupancy levels.'
However, industry insiders say that the Ritz-Carlton will have no immediate rival, and that its No1 status is not under threat for the time being. This certainly is a hotel property of distinction where the superlatives have to be applied in a global context.
Located on a secure artificial island to the west of Doha, the Ritz-Carlton is a 374-room hotel tower with every conceivable luxury. Its fittings and facilities are the most obvious cause for celebration.
In the lobby hangs a Viennese Baakowitz chandelier which has more than 2,000 individual crystals and weighs 1.2 tonnes. Indeed, for lovers of chandeliers the Ritz-Carlton is a treat with 263 of them in total. If you stay in a suite you will also have your own chandelier with dimmer switch for full enjoyment.
Suites are also lined with padded velvet and silk wall fabrics. But at the same time the Ritz-Carlton's trademark understated furniture gives the homely feel of a gentleman's club.
Bathrooms for all guests are beautifully crafted in marble with great attention to detail. Anything you might need during your stay is thought through, down to the last cotton bud.
Best restaurant in Doha
The Ritz-Carlton Doha has nine restaurants including the best restaurant in Qatar, La Mer, on the top floor with panoramic views back over to the city skyline. This French restaurant specializes in seafood but the British born chef is happy to oblige with any special requests.
Leisure facilities in this hotel are also premier league. There is a spacious spa complex, an indoor 25-metre swimming pool, full-size indoor tennis courts, and a garden with a feature rock-pool and bar for sunbathing.
But what really makes the Ritz-Carlton stand out from other chains is not is excellent fittings and facilities, but the devotion of its staff. The corporate ethos of 'Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen' assures a level of personalized service that is second to none.
Your every wish is taken care of with minimum fuss and considerable attention. And no other hotel chain has successfully adopted this type of familiar and responsive service without either overdoing it or failing to meet the required very high standard of personnel.
This was one of the innovations of the great hotelier Cesar Ritz a hundred years ago and his tradition lives on at the modern Ritz-Carlton. But times have changed a little and you will be able to dine without a tie, something that would have horrified Cesar Ritz!