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Thu 3 Apr 2008 04:00 AM

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Doha enjoys F&B boom

The face of Doha's food and beverage market has changed significantly in the last year, according to industry insiders.

The face of Doha's food and beverage market has changed significantly in the last year, according to industry insiders.

The influx of international hotel properties into the city has lead to increased maturity in the sector and the market has become more competitive, according to communications manager at the Mövenpick Hotel Doha Mihaela Comsa.

"The international hotel chains that are opening - or are due to open - are bringing interesting and innovative F&B concepts to the market," she told Caterer.

"This phenomenon represents a challenge for us, as we need to maintain our customers and continuously attract new ones.

The Mövenpick has only one outlet, catering to both in-house guests and the local market.

"In order to be able to face the increasing competition and the variety that the market has to offer, we have to put aggressive strategies in place.

"In order to retain our customers, we have to continuously work on innovative solutions and new offers.

At the Four Seasons Hotel Doha, executive chef Kenji Salz is also planning a number of improvements to help fend off the new competition.

He said that as the level of F&B investment in the city had risen significantly, Doha's profile had shifted away from being a "family enclave".

"I think we raised the bar here when we opened our fine-dining restaurant. Now I am thinking about morphing the dinner buffet into an à la carte and we will probably open two more outlets," he said.

"When the new hotels open, they are going to have to go to bat to take away the market from the existing hotels," he promised.

Rony Sahyouni, assistant director of sales for the W Doha, which is set to open later this year, is confident that the hotel can meet the challenge.

The hotel will feature The Market by Jean-Georges and The Spice Market, both concepts created by Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, as well as La Maison Du Caviar, a Crystal Lounge nightclub and Wahm, a poolside shisha lounge.

"The W is bringing something extra to this market with the famous Jean-Georges, and Wahm will set us apart too - it has a licence to serve alcohol and will be competition for the shisha cafés," Sahyouni said.

Some of the benefits of the booming market are already apparent to Four Season's Salz.

"New suppliers are setting up," he explained. "But it will be the quality of people and products that companies are prepared to invest in that will change dramatically in the next two years," he predicted.

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