From its prime location overlooking the city’s Diplomatic Quarter and a mere eight km from the centre of Riyadh, The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh is redefining the gold standard for luxury hospitality.
Since first opening its palatial doors in October 2011, The Ritz-Carlton has become the Saudi capital’s hotel of choice for elite guests, the business community and delegations welcomed by an exceptional flagship property with a wealth of fabulous physical assets all set in the privacy of 52 acres of landscaped gardens.
As one drives past the famous lion and crown Ritz-Carlton logo close to the monumental gatehouse, one might fancifully think at first glance that one is entering a Ducal palace somewhere in rural Italy. Driving down the one-km-long avenue flanked by fountains, mature palms and landscaped gardens, the dramatic scale of the Greco-Roman architecture of the approaching hotel is quite breathtaking.
The late founding father of The Ritz-Carlton company, Cesar Ritz, was famously celebrated as ‘the king of hoteliers and hotelier to kings’, and he would have found it most fitting that the company’s first property in Riyadh was originally designed to be a private royal guest palace.
The impressive property has 493 rooms and 99 suites including a bridal suite, superb gourmet signature restaurants, and extensive recreational facilities which include a spa and bowling alley. There is more than 5,800 sq m of conference space with two immense ballrooms located in separate wings. Then there are two vast auditoriums with stages for lectures, press conferences and a range of meeting rooms for conventions, conferences and exhibitions.
The massive entrance lobby reaches 10 m high and contains an immense crystal globe chandelier suspended beneath an ornate Tiepolo-styled ceiling. Four rearing copper horses stand guarding the lobby which is proving popular with guests and visitors alike. Despite the vast area, the human scale remains as this is an area of activity and warmth with huge displays of flowers and cascading light, an intimate place whether one is sitting, relaxing, sipping a cup of coffee or literally watching the world go by.
Very much the centre of the hotel, the lobby provides the perfect setting as a grand concourse for a multitude of activities and special gatherings. Prior to the 2014 Fifa World Cup, the Argentine national football team was hosted by the hotel with the lobby becoming the focal point for massive local and media interest in the celebrities.
INNOVATION AND FLAIR
Adel Al Mahboob, General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh, has extensive experience of the Riyadh luxury market at the highest levels.
“Since opening in October 2011, the property has created tremendous interest as we provide a level of luxury hospitality with character and style to the city. In addition to our flagship status for The Ritz-Carlton, we have the highest average rate of occupancy for this class of property in the city. Our expectations for 2015 are ahead of the curve,” he says.
As Al Mahboob explains, the Riyadh property combines the legendary Ritz-Carlton service of innovation and creative flair with a fabulous property with the hotel rightly acknowledged as one of the top destinations in the region.
“The property is taking a leadership role in Saudi Arabia as the ultimate guest palace for top businessmen, VIPs, corporate guests, families, delegations and visiting kings, presidents and ministers, and is a veritable who’s who of guests for global summits, regional conferences, weddings and social events,” says Al Mahboob.
He continues: “The Ritz-Carlton provides absolute guest privacy, gourmet cuisine and a superb range of fabulous hotel and conference facilities. Increasingly, local, regional and international guests are attracted to the property bringing intense customer loyalty appropriate to one of the most iconic and successful luxury brands in the world.”
In the highly competitive Riyadh hospitality sector, the majestic grandeur and dynamic energy of the property is proving irresistible for social events too, making its reputation as the most luxurious venue for weddings and special occasions with its own private entrance and the sheer size of the ballrooms and scale of operations. According to Al Mahboob, many high-profile social events are coming to the Ritz-Carlton and business is increasing. Location is everything and the proximity of the super-fast Makkah highway and the ease and availability of extensive car parking makes this gated hotel an ideal destination.
All the 493 rooms are superlative and impressive in their own right with ceilings and spacious, each providing great views from the four wings. There are 49 uniquely themed two-bedroom Royal Suites, each measuring more than 425 sq m, and a total of 50 one-bedroom Executive Suites which are proving to be popular with the corporate sector and visiting delegations.
The Royal Suites are elegantly styled with great subtlety utilising ethic textures and include the colour themes of amethyst, amber, royal blue and emerald. Wall fabrics include satin, velvet, genuine leather and silk and all carpets are custom made. Marble is omnipresent throughout the property and throughout the Royal Suites too, creating a sense of space and great beauty. One estimate is that more than 50,000 sq m of marble originating from Brazil, Italy and Portugal cover the floors and face many of the walls of the hotel.
The Royal Suites have divided living and sleeping areas including a separate office with a work station and a dining room that can accommodate up to 14 guests. All rooms are fully equipped with the latest technology including wireless and high-speed internet access, flat screen televisions and DVD players as standard. The lighting systems are designed to meet any functional requirements from a formal business environment to conduct meetings to a place of relaxation and quiet contemplation and calm.
The Executive Suites are equally stunning and opulent with divided living and sleeping areas, separate sitting area with guest bathroom and extensive technology from docking points to televisions. A nice touch complementing the array of technology is the placing of a traditional alarm clock on the bedside table.
The typical guest for the Executive Suites is drawn from the Fortune 500 companies and global multinationals include senior corporate individuals many of whom are engaged in the banking, energy, construction, aviation and technology sectors.
As well as the benefits of the spacious accommodation, these guests also have exclusive access to The Club Lounge further ensuring intimacy, privacy and exemplary levels of service with an all-day food and beverages available. The Club Lounge is extremely popular with guests not only for the quality of the food and beverage but a warm retreat within the hotel. Essentially, The Club Lounge which overlooks the indoor swimming pool is discreet and private and very exclusive being stocked with books, magazines, daily newspapers, and a separate area for watching television and relaxing.
In addition, executive guests are provided with royal treatment too and ferried as standard by limousine from and to King Khalid International Airport, which is a 35-minute drive from the hotel. Also, The Ritz-Carlton rewards programme and its exclusivity for many corporate are increasingly beneficial for many guests.
With its engaging and welcoming staff embracing the corporate mantra of ‘ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen’ the property is built upon exceptionable service with great attention to detail. Importantly, to achieve the highest levels of quality and consistent service, a fine team of professionals has been trained across all aspects of the business.
“The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh is acknowledged not only for its quality of service but as a flagship property for what we believe is the third most important market in the world. We are exceeding expectations as the numbers of high-end visitors both individual and corporate increases and we are seeing more from the governmental and diplomatic sectors too in terms of official delegations too. Social events are increasing and we have many plans for the future to meet the requirements of our guests.
“As well as business travellers, families visiting the property are increasing. There are more bankers visiting the city, more high-level construction companies as the metro system gets underway, more consultants and more energy sector visitors. Many of our guests stay up to six weeks at a time and the hotel is very much a home from home and it is our responsibility to ensure that we provide the quality of service as ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen,” Al Mahoob concludes.