Marcus Sutton is nearing a year at the helm of the Crowne Plaza — The Business Park Doha. And, while he has overseen operations at the hotel in what he describes as a “challenging 2016”, work is on in full swing to open the Holiday Inn next door.
“We are nearing the completion of the project directly next door, which is the Holiday Inn Doha The Business Park — positioned in the four-star space. These hotels will be managed in a cluster format, where we will have one leadership team, one general manager and a lot of the services will be shared in order to find better synergies to work between the properties,” Sutton tells Hotelier Qatar.
He confirms: “I will be in charge of both properties, as we are in the process of setting up a separate leadership team at a senior level which will be responsible for them.”
Sutton has spent 17 years in the hospitality industry, and believes every bit of his experience will be useful. “I have worked in everything from a 52-room boutique hotel in London, up to a 3000-key convention hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, and everything in between. That journey has prepared me for the kind of role I find myself at the moment.”
Sutton looks back on his journey stating: “I’m very happy with the way my career has progressed because I am one of the youngest GMs in the company, and also in Doha at the moment. But, I also feel that I did not get here by chance. There was a lot of hard work and being involved with multi-national hospitality companies in a lot of international locations. I looked at maximising my opportunities in different countries across different brands and also in different styles of property.”
His experience at the cluster of IHG properties at the Dubai Festival City was a crucial step ahead of his move to Doha. Sutton explains: “In Dubai we had four different business units — The Intercontinental Dubai Festival City, The InterContinental Residences and Suites, Crowne Plaza and a golf course. A cluster setup is vastly different from a standalone one. The expectation of having a cluster is to have synergies.”
“It is also important to provide a different kind of service across both brands because it is challenge for one leader to wear both brands. Within IHG we talk about a brand promise and we really believe in living and breathing that brand promise,” he says.
Trust in leadership is important says Sutton, as he admits juggling both properties has been an challenging. “It’s been busy because 2016 has obviously been as challenging year for Doha, and we have had to focus on maximising returns for the Crowne Plaza. At the same time, we had to keep a close watch on the development of the new hotel. My biggest priority has been to make sure I have the right people in the right positions, and to build a leadership team that is self-motivated, trustworthy and capable of taking care of their responsibilities.”
Revealing more, Sutton says the Holiday Inn The Business Park Doha is designed to have a modern contemporary four-star feel to it, “with lots of unique design features within the hotel”. He continues: “The hotel will have 307 rooms and a pillar-less ballroom that will be able to seat 850 people, which is one of the largest on this side of town. We will also have signature dining destinations and meeting space,” he says.
Sutton justifies the need for a new hotel in the area, despite 2016 witnessing a room rate drop of 25% across the country. “IHG and our owners have a strong relationship and through discussions there was an agreement between the two parties that there was a strong need for a four-star property. With projects coming up in the Msheireb area, which is going to be the new financial district, scheduled to open in the mid- to end-2017, it’s all about providing our guests with options, and making the Business Park a destination in itself.