In an interview for Upscale Living Magazine, I interviewed Rami Sayess, Regional Vice President and General Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Doha in Qatar. We discussed design and luxury, regional influences, dining options and signature dishes, the perfect itinerary in Doha, and much more.
Tell me a little bit about the design concept behind Four Seasons Doha, and the original ambition for the hotel when it first opened its doors in April 2005.
The design concept behind Four Seasons Hotel Doha was inspired by the Moorish architecture of the magnificent Alhambra palace and fortress complex in Granada, Spain. The Hotel’s striking neo-classical design combine Islamic traditions with artistic distinction, featuring wind towers, columns and geometric patterns, crowned with stylized lattice-work domes. Our ambition when we first opened in 2005 and until now, is of course, to provide the best personalized service to our guests and to be recognized as the hotel of choice for the discerning traveler when visiting Doha.
What are some of the most luxurious features of the property, and how have you balanced local and regional influences from the Middle East with the iconic grandeur and style of Four Seasons properties more generally?
It must be the grand interiors of the Hotel. It has been painstakingly decorated and furnished with bespoke chandeliers, custom-made furniture and art collections showcasing local and international artists. One of the most prominent pieces of artwork in the Hotel is The Doves of Peace by Iraqi sculptor Ali Al Jabiri. Located in the soaring triple-height atrium of the Hotel’s lower Grand Lobby, the obvious symbolism of the precariously balanced bronze birds, soaring 10ft above the miniature domes of the water feature below, is tempered by the unified beauty of the design and the proliferation of birds depicted.
In keeping with the Islamic understanding of attaining peace and harmony through the balance of opposites, the Hotel’s interiors and artwork provide a fascinating synthesis of dark and light, traditional and modern. Generally, it is a truly unique balance of Middle East influence and Four Seasons style.
In terms of dining options, what kinds of restaurants are on-site and how would you describe their cuisines?
We have seven distinct restaurants and each showcases its own specialty. IL Teatro offers traditional Italian cooking with an excellent selection of Italian wines, tranquil ambiance and beautiful interiors. Nusantao features authentic Pan-Asian and oriental dishes prepared with theatrical flair by our multicultural culinary team; a casual ambiance yet very elegant. Head to the Pool Grill for an outdoor dining option – the view of the Arabian Gulf makes for a dining experience both visually appealing and delicious, especially the grill selections.
For afternoon tea, head to Seasons Tea Lounge, where the lounge offers the best afternoon tea in Doha. Or go casual to Arabica Café with fresh, comforting and cheerful atmosphere, this venue offers on-the-go for quick and convenient bites.
Après Spa Cafe at our Spa and Wellness Center offers health-conscious dishes and drinks. Last but not least, Library Bar and Cigar Lounge is the go-to place for after work or late night drinks, as well as a great selection of cigars.
Additionally, we will be opening Nobu Doha soon, which will feature three distinct floors to experience acclaimed Chef Nobu’s signature new-style Japanese cuisine.
The Hotel is also going to debut the Shisha Terrace, a new restaurant that offers a magical view over the Arabian Gulf and grotto pool, in a stylish, yet relaxed, Arabic setting.
What are some of the signature dishes and cocktails you would recommend both guests and visitors of the hotel?
I would definitely recommend Hokkaido Scallop and Pomelo with Yuzu Dressing at Nusantao. This dish is very refreshing and delicious, as are our signature cocktails; The Library Bar has great selections of Martinis. Every Martini is a must try.
Tell me a little bit about the Library Bar and Cigar Lounge. What inspired this hotel offering and what kinds of cigars are available, and perhaps most popular, among guests?
The Library Bar and Cigar Lounge is the perfect retreat for a pre or post-dinner tipple and cigar, in an intimate club-style. It has become the business traveler and local expats favorite place to go after work drinks. We have a selection of the best cigars from Cuba such as Cohiba and Hoyo De Monterrey. Cohiba is the most popular cigar here.
In order to truly experience the hotel and surrounding area, what kind of itinerary would you design travelers wishing to make the most of their stay?
Qatar boasts attractive facilities and activities for everyone. A desert safari, shopping excursion, museum visit, or round of golf on the 18-hole championship course can be the one of the great activities to begin with.
A walk around the Corniche and a visit to Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) would be my ideal first day itinerary in Doha. MIA is a really great museum, designed by world renowned architect I.M Pei, this museum is one of Doha’s iconic landmarks. It interprets traditional Islamic architecture and showcases where traditional art meets the 21st century. MIA houses one of the world’s most complete collections of Islamic artifacts. After enjoying Doha skyscrapers at the Corniche, a visit to the souk is a must. There you can experience local food and find local handcrafts or souvenirs.
If you want to be a bit more adventurous, ask our concierge to arrange a trip to the desert. There you can do some dune bashing or enjoy the inland sea beach.
Whichever choices you make, a visit to our renowned Spa is what you need during your stay in Doha. For more information, please visit www.fourseasons.com/doha