Qatar finally releases hotel reservations ahead of World Cup

(Bloomberg) – Thousands of hotel rooms in Qatar that were previously blocked by 2022 FIFA World Cup organizers are being made available to the general public for booking, even though some properties are still under construction less than two months before kick-off.

The accommodations had been shortlisted by the Supreme Committee of Qatar and governing body FIFA to prioritize competition teams, sponsors and their guests, officials, royal guests and fans who had booked packages of hospitality. Now, with the World Cup due to start on November 20, several thousand unassigned rooms are being released after a contractually agreed deadline, according to a person familiar with the process.

Hotel executives said more rooms would become available in early October, which would ease the crisis. “The availability picture will become much, much broader,” Guy Hutchinson, president and CEO of Rotana Hotel Management Corp., said in an interview. “A lot of these concerns will be answered in the very short term.” He expects occupancy of his properties to be 90% or more for the duration of the tournament.

A Qatari spokesperson said it was on track to provide 130,000 rooms for the tournament and more than 117,000 rooms are currently available. Accommodation options include purpose-built accommodations, tents, Airbnb-style accommodations, and at least two cruise ships with nearly 4,000 cabins.

The country and its largely immigrant workforce have been working tirelessly to prepare the country, including an overhaul of sewage systems to handle the estimated 1.2 million fans coming for the event of a month. The bulk of visitors will come in the first two weeks of the tournament, with many entering and leaving on the same day, staying in neighboring countries like the United Arab Emirates. Qatar has reopened a secondary airport to the public to cope with an increase in flights.

Stadiums, mostly built from scratch, are complete. But at least half a dozen hotels, including five-star establishments, are still under construction with the aim of completing the work by November 1. Some plan to open all of their rooms and restaurants, while others will only have a portion of their rooms available in time for the tournament.

Some of the so-called fan villages – including rows and rows of rapidly built housing resembling mobile homes or shipping containers visible from the air – are still being worked on.

The official tournament website still indicates very limited availability in hotel rooms for the first few nights before teams are eliminated.

However, more rooms are available on individual hotel booking sites. The new Rixos Gulf Hotel Doha, for example, recently started taking bookings for the tournament. It opens the all-inclusive property on October 23, with rooms available on its website starting at 3,570 Qatari riyals ($980.50) and going up to 33,320 riyals per night for the most luxurious suite.

There are many private houses – called villas – available from 787 riyals per night, as well as apartments and properties that offer hostel-style twin-bedded studios for 300 riyals per night. Tents and other space in fan villages are also available for between 407 and 1512 riyals per night, with a minimum stay of two nights.

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