Some luxury hotels are legends from the moment they are born, and the 1982 opening of the 11-floor sculpture that is Sheraton Doha Hotel and Resort is one of them. The concrete triangular building, by architect William Hill, rises in descending-size steps, to a massive crowning cap. First guest was astronaut Alan Shepard. The gal looks at photos of the hotel in its early days. It was then surrounded by the sands of the desert and no other buildings – how that has changed.
The interior has an open atrium soaring up to the inside of the crowning cap. All 378 bedrooms open off corridors, with thousands of living plants on the atrium side. All bedrooms have private balconies. The hotel was closed for five months in 2014 to take it back, in retro style, to the sumptuous look it had in its first days. Room 442, therefore, a typical 420 sq ft space with three steps down from the bedroom area to the near-balcony living and office part, is a symphony of off-white, camel, and rich red colours.
I look down at a man-made harbour, and out to sea (there is a particular soft blue to the waters here). I am told by my new friend Mariam Romy Jaskulski, International Sales & Marketing Manager of Qatar International Adventures, about more man-made sea installations. A massive deep-water port, big enough to host mega-cruise ships, is scheduled for opening November 2015 – it is worth checking the cartoon-like progress of the port on YouTube. Obviously ships are being planned, already, to accommodate visitors to the World Cup in 2022.
But look in another direction and see how Doha is trying to catch up with Dubai when it comes to stunning modern architectural wonders, many of which are luxury hotels. I took this photo while walking over to the Sheraton’s outstanding sports centre – the building on the left. Oh what a gym! No wonder it has over 300 local members.