Since winning the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup (Nov. 21–Dec. 18), Qatar’s glimmering social, political and commercial capital city of Doha worked nonstop to expand its hospitality venues and improve its infrastructure. It channeled investments into the construction of new hotels, shopping malls, conference centers, cultural attractions and a brand-new metro system.
In addition, Qatar is building six new World Cup- quality soccer stadiums (and renovating two more) in Doha, Qatar’s capital, and in four nearby suburban cities. All stadiums feature cooling systems to combat the desert heat, and all lie within 20 to 30 minutes of city center Doha, a great logistical amenity for World Cup visitors.
Qatar is a small country, just 0.12 percent the size of the United States, but its profitable oil and natural gas exports make it the world’s richest country. During my first visit to Doha in 2014, developers were constructing upscale neighborhoods for the thousands of expats working for local multinational firms, art museums with outstanding collections, and dozens of university buildings for local and foreign students. Doha’s growth in the past decade has been phenomenal; and although many international travelers call Doha a “baby” Dubai, this baby is growing extremely quickly.
In this sunbaked city everything moves at bullet speed. High-rise residential, commercial and hotel towers quickly sprout in every neighborhood like colorful Lego blocks. New asphalt highways shimmer in the heat, slithering their way across the desert to green, oasis-looking golf courses and to the gated suburbs beyond.
The city built its three Metro lines in just two years, enabling sleek air- conditioned trains to glide through the city with efficiency and speed. Visitors may enjoy the 39 ultra-modern Metro stations and avoiding traffic jams, but wealthy locals find it difficult to shun their Mercedes, Porsches and Maseratis for public transportation.
Doha is home to several diverse neighborhoods, including some built only within the past few years. In centrally located West Bay, office towers come alive at night with light shows on their façades, and the Corniche, a four-mile- long waterfront promenade, proves perfect for strolling or biking during cooler months or on early summer mornings before the temperature rises above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Visitors will find many hotels and restaurants in this area as well as in the nearby City Center Mall, one of the largest shopping and restaurant malls in the Middle East.
A favorite neighborhood is Al Jasra, home to Souq Waqif, the city’s historic Bedouin marketplace that began in the late 1700s. Although beautifully restored, its narrow alleys, the maze of small stone shops and cafés and the ubiquitous knots of buyers and sellers haggling over prices all provide one of the few clues in modern Doha of the city’s Arabian past. The souk offers thousands of items to buy, everything from carpets and Bedouin scarves to incense, nuts and spices. Visit the souk in early evening when strings of soft lights line the alleys and Qataris sit at outdoor cafés with glasses of tea or coffee, enjoying the cooler but still sultry air.
The elite, artificial island of The Pearl-Qatar occupies two square miles of reclaimed land adjacent to the West Bay lagoon. It houses an upscale residential development with luxury apartments, villas and townhouses, all with beautiful views of the sea, harbor and nearby marina. For lunch or dinner here visit Medina Centrale, a Mediterranean-inspired town square with an intriguing selection of restaurants.
I imagine that when writer Hans Christian Andersen mused, “Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale,” he was standing at the edge of Copenhagen’s historic Tivoli Gardens, one of his favorite haunts, enlivened by the swirl of human happiness that surrounded him: children laughing; carousels spinning; games of chance played for prizes; lovers holding hands; hungry people whispering over sweets, hot drinks, beer and towering, open-faced smørrebrød, Denmark’s quintessential sandwich. That fairy tale lives on today at the second-oldest amusement park in the world, a spectacle of folly architecture, bakeries, gardens, rides, restaurants, puppet shows and joy ... and which also happens to be one of the city’s most storied places to convene for business.
Since its prestige for attracting the world elite grew in the 1960s, Greece remains the go-to destination for glittering holidays. Each step of the journey is enrobed in luxury, from culinary traditions with the highest standard of execution and name-brand, high-end shopping to first-rate wellness locales and elite accommodations, like 5-star hotels, private villas and yachts.
The restored Park Hyatt Toronto reopened its doors, bringing luxury, sophistication and glamour alongside a nod to the hotel’s Canadian heritage. Alessandro Munge of Studio Munge collaborated on the hotel’s refresh, drawing inspiration from Canada’s seasons and natural landscapes.
I recently dined at Irwin’s in Philadelphia. The restaurant is located on the rooftop of the Bok Building, a former school turned collective of small businesses, non-profits, artist workshops, a bar and restaurant. I previously visited Bok for the bar and yoga classes, and I was excited to experience the restaurant.
The Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) Convention 2021 will be unlike any other convention before it, as we come together in person for the first time since the business travel industry drastically changed and look forward to rebuilding and reshaping the future. GBTA Convention 2021 will bring all of us together to learn from experts and each other, in-person at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 17–19. The safety of our attendees is our top priority. View health and safety protocols.
The Global Business Travel Association, the world’s largest business travel and meetings trade organization, recently released a statement from GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang regarding the Biden administration’s recent announcement that the U.S. travel ban will be relaxed in November for vaccinated travelers from 26 Schengen countries, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Arriving early afternoon in Puerto Rico, we jumped in an Uber and took a short, 15-minute drive from the airport to La Concha. As it was Tuesday, the streets were not too busy and the hotel lobby was calm. During the weekend, the scene likely would have been more bustling. We were greeted by a staff member who requested proof of vaccination and government-issued ID, and were given a wristband to indicate we were fully vaccinated. All guests are required to be vaccinated and wear masks at all times while moving around the hotel. Hand sanitizer stations were placed around the lobby, in elevators and in each common area.
Without a doubt, the pandemic changed the role of airports in the travel industry. Hamad International Airport’s role evolved in many ways since the pandemic hit. Now, more than ever, airports are responsible for creating a secure passenger experience. As the gateway to Qatar and the world, the safety and wellbeing of staff and passengers has always been at the core of Hamad International Airport’s strategy.
The Rittenhouse has long stood out as one of Philadelphia’s finest hotels, centrally located in one of the city’s poshest neighborhoods. Needless to say, I knew I was in for an afternoon of luxurious pampering when I hopped in my car and headed down I-95 from my suburban home to the heart of the City of Brotherly Love. As I drove through the seemingly endless roadwork on the highway, I realized just how long it had been since I’d driven this once-familiar route into the city as a result of the pandemic. Of course I was eager for the relaxation and bliss that was in my future, but it was also a welcome feeling to head back into Philadelphia for a moment of normalcy.