THE SHERATON GRAND DOHA RESORT & CONVENTION HOTEL WAS THE FIRST ADDRESS IN WEST BAY BEFORE IT BECAME, WELL, WEST BAY. WHEN THIS ICONIC BUILDING OPENED ITS DOORS IN 1982, THERE WAS NOTHING ELSE. NO SKYLINE, NO NEIGHBOURS AND ONLY ONE ROAD WHICH LED TO THE HOTEL. FACT’S CRAIG FERRIMAN WALKS INTO A LITTLE PIECE OF DOHA’S HISTORY FOR A MEMORABLE STAY…
if you stood where the Museum of Islamic Art is back in 1982 and looked out across the bay, the sight
would look very different to how it does today. You would see only one landmark on the horizon at the other side of the crescent and it would look like a ship moored in a harbour. The sight was in fact a hotel called the Sheraton and over 35 years on, the landscape looks completely different to those desolate days, but the Sheraton’s iconic ship-like building stands proudly and distinctively on the shore’s edge as ever it did. Walking into the hotel recently was like walking into a bit of history.
Internally, it does look rather 80s; something of another age Monte Carlo glitz about the place which
feels of its time and not contemporary but you know what, I loved it. It’s one of those hotels
where you peer over the balcony railing on your floor and you can see the lobby below and also feel like your stomach is coming up. The rooms feel like spacious cabins in a cruise ship. You sit on the balcony and look out to sea. It’s very elegant and highly classy. Just little touches count like the gold rim around the bathroom mirror or the thick blue carpets in the bedrooms – beautiful. I started my trip with a visit to the pool cafe and had a hamburger and fries which was actually very good. The general manager recommended it and I can understand why. I walked around the lush lawns of the vast grounds outside the back of the hotel and found the beach that was a hidden treat. Buoys cordoned off a section to keep out unwanted fish and the section offers unrivalled views of the city’s ever emerging sky line while you swim in the Arabian Gulf or get a glow or top up the tan on the sandy beach. Life guards keep an eye on everyone but also ensure that non-hotel guests cannot sneak in which preserves guests’ privacy.
For dinner, I walked over to the health club which has a great Italian restaurant located at the back with plenty of tables to dine al fresco by the side of the sea. La Veranda is an Italian restaurant and its chef, Emanuele Sabatini, has an award-winning menu. I enjoyed their hearty four seasons pizza whilst bathing in the breeze and taking in the bright lights of the great views of the Corniche.
The lobby hosts breakfast in Al Hubara which essentially sits in the basin of the building with all the finery of the structure of the property all around you. A well-known British politician was sipping coffee at the table next to mine giving me the feeling that this is a place where dignitaries still stay. Breakfast offered a bit of everything from fresh fruit to cold cuts to hot items – a very satisfying start to the day.
After breakfast was digested I went to the gym in the award-winning health club. My itinerary stated that I had to have a one-hour session with a personal trainer. He was a Bosnian instructor called Arman and he made me do various exercises for 30-second intervals. He called it functional training. Afterwards, I felt parts of my body I didn’t know I had! It was brutal but brilliant. The gym though is amazing and absolutely enormous with large windows letting light pour in and letting you get lost in the sea views as you wonder where an hour on the treadmill went. I had a massage scheduled shortly after my exhausting fitness session which was the perfect antidote. A 60-minute Swedish massage did just the trick. My therapist, Ganga, told me it’ll be quite a relaxing massage and I said that’ll be fine by me. She wasn’t kidding. All my pressure points were identified and my tense muscles were worked on. A great end to the stay!
Our Friday night was punctuated by a boogie at the Back Yard. This event is held at the far end of the Sheraton’s vast grounds, quite literally in the hotel’s back yard. Visiting live bands and a DJ keep the party vibe going all night long. Fairy lights and wooden garden benches with shisha and the cool sea breeze all contribute to a fabulous evening and the best bit was not having to queue for an Uber after it but to crawl into the warm and comfy bed for an incredibly good night’s sleep. ✤
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