Three questions to Stefan Gaessler, GM of Park Hyatt Doha

Three questions to Stefan Gaessler, GM of Park Hyatt Doha

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Park Hyatt Doha was officially relaunched this month. The hotel had first opened its doors in December 2019 but closed shortly after due to the COVID-19 outbreak. HN spoke with Stefan Gaessler, the property’s GM, to learn more about the property. 


What are your plans for the reopening of Park Hyatt Doha?

With unobstructed, elevated views of Doha, Park Hyatt Doha offers a sense of place and ready access to the city’s cultural icons and seat of government, making it ideal for governmental guests, tourists or even staycationers. It’s inherent in our brand to attract global experience seekers. Our vision, therefore, is to provide discreet, residential-style luxury with cultural insights that inform the guest experience. Our proximity to Souq Waqif, Msheireb Museums and Doha Design District afford a variety of unique experiences not found elsewhere in the city. 

How do you believe the hotel will perform in Qatar, especially after the GCC reconciliation?

For the moment, COVID-19 has tempered expectations of a sudden uplift in visitation for GCC member states. That’s not to say that hotels aren’t looking forward to one day returning to pre-blockade occupancies. I’ve witnessed a maturation of hotel products during the period of blockade and feel the city is even better positioned to provide extraordinary experiences. A significant amount of work has also gone into improving infrastructure (especially road and rail) in the lead up to the 2020 FIFA World Cup, which will only serve to further improve the visitor experience. 

Improved access to and from Qatar and a superior guest experience can only contribute positively to the success of hotels. We are part of Msheireb Downtown Doha (MDD), the world’s largest urban regeneration project located in Msheireb, the cultural heart of Doha. We anticipate strong interest from GCC nationals to pay a visit to this rejuvenated district of the city, which will feature a mixture of commercial, luxury retail and residential elements, where dining, art, culture and design take center stage. 

Who is your clientele, and how do you believe guests’ preferences will change after COVID-19? 

Our clientele includes local influencers, governmental guests, and staycation couples. It’s quickly become apparent that our target audience is looking for understated luxury and a high degree of privacy. We’ve witnessed this through associated demand for discretion, privatized dining, spa and pool experiences. This sits seamlessly within the Park Hyatt brand: “We don’t shout, we whisper” and “Luxury is Personal.” The property itself exudes elegance, sophistication and a quiet confidence underpinned with unassuming, intuitive service.  

Getting the balance right between our guests’ need for privacy and desire for a high degree of personalization is an ongoing challenge. The industry often speaks about the guest journey and touch points. While expecting detail and personalization, guests are also looking for a frictionless or seamless experience with contactless elements that minimize the risks of exposure to COVID for example. Electronic menus, keyless entry and contactless payment are means to this end. 

Wellness is also a big focus after 2020 underscored the need for us all to take better care of ourselves. Reconnecting with nature, mindfulness, meditation and self-care have never been more widespread. Tapping into this, The Spa by Park Hyatt Doha offers mood-based treatments, whose protocols adjust to the response of your body in real time, achieving optimal results. The Spa was recognized in January 2021 with Oh La La Magazine double Critics Choice Awards. 

We’re also experiencing an increase in guests wishing to order restaurant quality meals at home and can only foresee this continuing. This has led us to re-engineer kitchen operations and menus with a strong focus on packaging and quality control. By extension, there is considerable demand for high quality offsite catering which we will explore further over the coming months. 

The format of large-scale meetings is likely to shift to a hybrid format in the short to medium term or at least until vaccine rates allow for travel volumes beyond just bubbles. As a hotel, we’ve played both attendee and host in our event spaces to hybrid events, which have proven to be a remarkably efficient and cost effective way to connect and exchange ideas. Hyatt has actively facilitated studio and event spaces over the past 12 months that allow for singular video conferencing events to occur between multiple hotels.

Outdoor spaces to meet and socialize are also in hot demand. This has meant we’ve had to reinterpret and optimize how our outdoor dining spaces are used while ensuring we meet ever evolving Ministry of Public Health guidelines.

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