Christian Hirt, a hospitality industry expert with more than 25 years of experience, has been appointed by Accor as Managing Director of the soon-to-open Raffles and Fairmont hotels in Doha – the iconic, dual-branded properties housed within Qatar’s landmark Lusail Towers.
Hirt, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration and a Master’s in Business Administration, brings to the leadership role almost three decades of hospitality and F&B expertise, honed in award-wining properties across Europe, Australia and the United States. He will head an experienced, multi-national executive team with many members having been involved in the launch and relaunch of national landmark hotels and resorts.
“Overseeing the opening of these two distinct properties that share a common vision to deliver the ultimate guest experience is an exceptional opportunity, even more so when they represent a country’s aspiring tourism and hospitality strategy,” said Hirt. “With Qatar set to be at the centre of the sporting world when it hosts the Middle East’s first FIFA World Cup 2022 later this year, this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Hirt moved to Qatar from the multi-award-winning Raffles Istanbul, where he spent six years as General Manager, built up an international clientele base and secured notable industry accolades including Travel & Leisure’s ‘Best City Hotel Europe 2019’, Conde Nast Traveller’s ‘Best Hotel in Turkey’ and earning the hotel five stars in the Forbes Travel Guide for three consecutive years.
“Christian has the passion, pedigree, innovation and cross-cultural expertise needed to inspire and deliver the exceptional levels of service associated with both brands: Fairmont and Raffles, which will become synonymous with this iconic building,” said Mark Willis, CEO India, Middle East, Africa & Turkey.
“Housed within an architectural marvel that will be instantly recognised globally as Qatar’s statement hospitality postcard, the properties will deliver on world-renowned quality services, and on the brand promise of one of the world’s most exciting emerging tourism destinations.
The project’s newly appointed Executive Team includes French/Lebanese hotelier Hani Akkari, who will serve as General Manager of the 362 rooms and suites at the Fairmont Doha, and German hospitality professional Bernd Frank Knaier, who will be Hotel Manager at the 132-suite Raffles Hotel and Residences Doha.
Akkari, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel Management and a Master’s in Hospitality Management, brings extensive experience, including more than a decade working across Europe, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and, since 2017, Qatar. Knaier meanwhile has been a key member of the Raffles family since 2011, joining first the historic five-star Raffles Beijing, before moving to Raffles Singapore in 2014.
“The executive team charged with delivering our mission may come from different geographies and cultures, but all share a solid and passionate commitment to bring to Qatar an innovative approach to hospitality that will reverberate around the world. I am confident their combined efforts will firmly place Qatar on the world’s hospitality and culinary stage and set benchmarks that others will aspire to,” explained Hirt.
The towers are an architectural interpretation of Qatar’s national emblem of intertwined traditional scimitar swords. They mark the entry of both the Fairmont and Raffles brands into Qatar, following an agreement between Katara Hospitality, and Accor.
Both Raffles Hotel and Residences Doha and the Fairmont Doha are due to open in Q3 2022 ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.