The future of luxury hospitality with Sherief Abouelmagd, cluster GM of Steigenberger Doha

The future of luxury hospitality with Sherief Abouelmagd, cluster GM of Steigenberger Doha

Sherief Abouelmajd, a seasoned hotelier with over 30 years of experience spanning the USA, North Africa, the Middle East and GCC countries, has a wealth of operational expertise. As general manager of the Steigenberger Hotel Doha, he reveals the latest hospitality trends and the strategies he has implemented to ensure the hotel delivers exceptional guest experiences.

Can you provide insights into the current trends in luxury hospitality specific to Doha and the wider region?

In 2022, Qatar saw a surge in hotel openings to accommodate the FIFA World Cup influx, marking a remarkable year. With visitor numbers climbing 167 percent in the first seven months of 2023, Qatar’s hospitality sector is experiencing substantial growth. According to a recent report by Knight Frank, the sector is poised to achieve a total room supply of 53,400 by 2028.

Today, luxury, upper-upscale and upscale hotels account for 74 percent of the existing hotel supply in Qatar. It is expected that the segment will expand by a further 78 percent by 2028. In this fast-paced and highly competitive market, luxury hoteliers are looking to adopt newer technologies to help stay ahead of their competition. Furthermore, hospitality brands now integrate wellness and eco-tourism values into their offerings due to increasing demand in these sectors.

In a culturally diverse location like Doha, how does the hotel blend local culture with luxury guest experiences?

These days, luxury travelers are more interested in holistic experiences rather than the superficial, specifically in a culturally diverse destination like Qatar. Steigenberger Hotel Doha blends Qatari culture with German hospitality, providing a distinctive guest experience through natural, physical, and cultural elements. Thus, Qatari culture enriches every aspect, from spa treatments and cuisine to architecture, art, crafts and guest experiences.

Sustainability is increasingly important in the hospitality industry. What sustainable initiatives has the hotel implemented to reduce its environmental impact?

We prioritize sustainability in luxury hospitality, taking proactive steps to minimize our environmental impact. We believe that luxury extends beyond the opulence we offer to encompass the responsibility we hold toward our environment.
Some of the initiatives we have implemented include:

  • Energy efficiency: our property incorporates 100 percent use of LED lighting, which decreases our energy consumption but also provides a comfortable environment for our guests.
  • Waste management: our commitment to minimizing waste extends from our back-of-house operations to our guest services.
  • Local sourcing: whenever possible, we source locally produced food and materials.
  • Cultural sustainability: we incorporate Qatari traditional elements into our architecture and offerings.
  • Community support: for the World Cleanup Day, the Steigenberger team volunteered in a community cleanup at Al Zubarah Beach, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

How do you envision the future of luxury travel, particularly in light of recent global events and changing traveler preferences?

The luxury hospitality market has undergone significant transformation over the years. It has evolved into a sector that prioritizes experiences, personalization and social responsibility alongside traditional luxury elements. I believe the future of luxury hospitality will be defined by the growing influence of health and wellness, seamless technology integration and personalized services. The modern traveler seeks sustainability and cultural engagement.
Furthermore, bleisure travel and flexible booking options are becoming increasingly important. As a brand, we’re committed to pioneering these changes to offer a rich, meaningful guest experience. We are continually reassessing how we can provide an elevated experience that is in tune with guests’ expectations.

What strategies is Steigenberger Hotel Doha adopting to prepare for the evolving landscape of luxury travel?

The luxury hospitality industry, with its rich traditions and high standards, is at an exciting crossroads. The interplay of global events, changing traveler preference, and rapid technological advancements is reshaping how we perceive luxury and service. At Steigenberger Hotel Doha, we believe that adaptation and innovation are paramount. We’re not just reacting to these shifts; we’re proactively embracing them. We will continue to set industry benchmarks and offer unparalleled experiences to our guests. For example, we have integrated technology touchpoints to deliver highly personalized experiences for all our guests.


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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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