First in-airport Dior spa opens with Qatar Duty Free at Doha’s Hamad International

By Faye Bartle |

Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat

Left: Inside the first Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat at an airport, at DOH. Right: TRBusiness’ Faye Bartle with Thabet Musleh, Senior Vice President, QDF.

ON LOCATION: TRBusiness has been on location with Qatar Duty Free at Hamad International Airport (DOH) to celebrate the launch of the first in-airport Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat.

The new Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat Doha – the largest in the world – opened on Tuesday 7 May, with a ribbon cutting ceremony carried out by Thabet Musleh, Senior Vice President, QDF and Veronique Courtois, CEO of Parfums Christian Dior.

TRBusiness first broke the story of the Dior spa concept coming to Hamad International Airport back in May 2023, and the eagerly anticipated launch has been meticulously brought to life.

It’s already fully booked for the next two to three months, demonstrating the strong demand for luxury wellbeing experiences at the hub.

Occupying 800 sqm in DOH’s North Node, near Orchard, the two-storey Retreat is open around the clock.

Featuring eight treatment rooms, and capable of delivering up to 80 treatments per day, it offers a carefully curated roster of treatments (including those created using the L’Or de Vie and Dior Prestige lines) lasting for up to two hours and priced from QAR250-1,990.

Among them is the DOH exclusive Escale à Doha ritual for face and body, which is designed especially for those recovering from a long trip or jet lag.

Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat

Spanning 800 sqm across two levels, the new Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat is the first such concept in an airport and the largest in the world.

There’s also a dedicated space for men’s wellbeing, complete with customised barber treatments including the Dior Luxury Barber Experience and the Dior Shave.

Combining a wellness and retail experience, the ground floor of the Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat Doha offers a selection of Dior Maison homeware, perfumes, skincare and experiences, including a SkinScanner so travellers can undergo a customised skin diagnosis in the boutique.

A stand-out item is the EUR140,000 Miss Dior trunk (one of only four on the planet) which, when sold – and as Musleh stressed to TRBusiness, it’s a case of when, not if – he believes it may be the most expensive beauty piece ever sold in an airport anywhere in the world.

All those purchasing a service or a product (perfume, skincare and selected make-up) can take advantage of the complimentary engraving service.

“As an airport, as a retailer, we are always looking for new experiences and to challenge the status quo and deliver something sensational for customers when they travel and that’s how this came about,” Musleh told TRBusiness in our face-to-face interview.

The Dior spa concept originally launched on the domestic market in 2021 in Paris and the DOH concept has been around two to three years in the making.

Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat

There’s a dedicated space for men’s wellbeing.

“The challenge has been giving that quality,” said Musleh. “How do you get someone to go into a spa and get a treatment and feel like ‘I am no longer in an airport?’ I believe we have done it, but I will let you be the judge.” (See review below – TRBusiness’ Faye Bartle was among the first customers in the world to experience a treatment).

Musleh points out the competitive pricing strategy. “We want people to try it. We want people to go and enjoy it,” he said.

“We are also super proud to have the first Dior barbershop anywhere in the world,” he added.

“Nowhere in the world has Dior done this, they have chosen Doha and HIA as the choice for this and we are super happy with that. And a shave is about GBP40 – so for Dior, in an airport, £40 is not a lot of money. I paid GBP30 recently in Liverpool,” he commented.

Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat

Located near Orchard, the new Dior spa has two entrances: one through the boutique Dior, and one through the Qatar Airways business lounge. Right: TRBusiness’ Faye Bartle at the opening.

For the concept, QDF and Dior had a meeting of minds when it comes to experiences.

“Lots of brands believe but they don’t take the plunge and special thanks and shout out to Dior because they believe and they wanted to do it,” he said. “They partnered with us on this journey.”

Musleh says he has tried every treatment on the menu, as many may expect from his perfectionist nature (but also mirroring the eight-month staff training required). Bookings are currently rolling in due to word of mouth.

Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat

Left: On the ground floor, the boutique space encapsulates the spirit of a luxurious Parisian apartment. Right: TRBusiness’ Faye Bartle interviews Thabet Musleh, Senior VP, QDF.

“We have a waiting list of people,” said Musleh, who revealed that people have been calling and enquiring about the opening so they can specifically plan to travel through DOH and book.

“We have a lot of frequent flyers, a lot of business travellers and expats that live in Qatar that fly home every weekend,” he explained.

The retail element offers a point of difference, with the star of the show the aforementioned Miss Dior trunk, which takes around nine months to get delivered.

“Our target is to make our customers happy,” he said. “It’s our most expensive product we have ever done in the airport.”

Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat

On the first floor, the spa is home to eight treatment rooms. Among the treatments offers are, through Dior Skin Tech expertise, the Dior Skin Light LED mask treatment, as well as Dior powered by Hydrafacial and the Luno Waves 21.

In terms of new developments, Musleh says the focus is on delivering something that’s right for the customer, by adding value and experiences.

“We are driven by the experience, not the brand,” he said. “QDF can help push the industry on and I am super proud of that.

“The problem with the industry today is that people focus on MAGs and commercial returns, rather than the customer and I can tell you now, and I am not exaggerating, I can far outperform any MAG, any commercial return, because I do it in a different way. I focus on the customer first and I look the result secondly.”

Around 85% of DOH pax are transit and there’s an average dwell time of two hours, although this is increasing.

“People are no longer going for the shortest connection time,” said Musleh. “People are now booking flights and saying actually they want four hours in this airport as they’ll have a shower, get something to eat, do some shopping and get back on their flight refreshed.”

Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat

Left: For the first time, Dior has dedicated a space to men’s wellbeing, complete with customised barber treatments including the Dior Luxury Barber Experience and the Dior Shave. Right: The Dune room features a massage table in bronze quartz. 

Musleh says the average spend per passenger (SPP) is increasing “a lot”, almost doubling over the last four years.

Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat

The Constellation double treatment room can be privatised for a wellbeing stopover, and has a private steam room and jacuzzi.

He also says there is “100%’ potential for growth in beauty services and that QDF is doing something “big” with two other brands this year around beauty services.

“Let’s not forget we’re humans and people want to feel, touch and smell a product,” he reasoned.

“That’s always going to continue to be the case. You’re not going to buy a perfume for the first time online, are you? As an industry we still need to make sure we are championing experiences – that’s what makes us different.”

In terms of any new developments, he added: “I always like big announcements and I like to keep them that way.”

Musleh confirmed that QDF’s 32% hike in yoy revenue in 2022-2023 has been “way above” this for the 2023-2024 (the financial year runs April to March).

“This year there will be a big growth in our numbers as we acquired QDC, but we generally deliver high double-digit growth yoy,” he said. (Ed –  more details to come in the Top 10 Busiest Airports report in the TRBusiness June/July 2024 issue).

DOH has achieved ninth place in the ACI World rankings for international pax in 2023, with almost 46m intl. passengers in 2023 (according to preliminary data) – up 28.5% on 2022 and a substantial 18.4% vs. 2019. Musleh says we can expect a similar story for 2024.

“We have a great team that live and breathe customer service and that makes everything easier,” he said.

Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat

Left: The menu features treatments created using the L’Or de Vie and Dior Prestige lines. The signature two-hour Escale à Doha treatment has been designed to provide a feeling of regeneration during a long journey.

QDF’s e-commerce offering should be on track to launch in Q4 2024.

“I think it’ll be a game-changer,” he said. “What we’ve tried to do is bring what we do in the airport in terms of experience to an omnichannel setting as well so it’s going to be very different.”

There are also plans for large scale activation for the Qatar Grand Prix later this year (29 November to 1 December 2024). “It’s going to be a big year for us, and next year even bigger,” said Musleh.

Chiefly, the opening of D and E Concourses in 2025 will bring 20 extra gates – currently, capacity is 53 mppa and this next expansion will take it to circa 65-70m.

When asked if the operation will continue as a single terminal Musleh responded: ‘We have other plans. Concourse F is a remote stand we are working on that – it is 4-5 years away.”

Looking at trends and category performance he said: “Luxury has slowed down probably due the growth of prior years, which was really large – at around 40-50% yoy growth. Gold has slowed down, which is predominantly driven by pricing.”

Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat

Left: Ground-floor retail. Right: The Miss Dior trunk, custom-made by the expert Dior trunk-makers, and of which only four are on display worldwide.

However, a combination of luxury, family, experiences and sense of place shine through strongly as the key characteristics of DOH and that is set to stay, says Musleh.

“We are working now on some different projects for families and younger travellers but were always going to evolve our offer and move it forward – that’s just what we do.

“Whoever can deliver the best experience for that category, for that customer we will partner with. We’re not brand or product specific, we are customer service specific.”

Inside the Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat Doha

TRBusiness’ Faye Bartle was one of the first customers on the planet to experience a treatment at the Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat.

With a one-hour time slot to enjoy at around 8:30am (DOH time) on Wednesday 8 May, we selected a deep tissue massage, which is ideal for targeting aches and pains, reducing muscle tension and aiding relaxation.

Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat

Left: TRBusiness’ Faye Bartle at the Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat Doha. Right: The pre-treatment tea featuring the Instagrammable Dior star biscuit featuring protein powder and dates.

We were welcomed with a refreshing drink (we plumped for the mint lemon juice topped with caviar), before settling into the elegant treatment room, which boasted an expansive dressing are complete with rain shower, Dior beauty products and fluffy white bathrobe.

Retreat-goers are offered a choice of a heated or unheated therapy bed (we chose heated) and to select between two soundtracks.

The highly-skills therapist went to work on knots and tension and the treatment felt highly targeted yet distinctively luxurious. There was excellent communication from the therapist and I left feeling markedly more relaxed and with the niggling twinges in my back and shoulders expertly resolved.

Guests have the option to have a light make-up applied before they exit. Or, there is the option to book in for a separate, professional Dior make-up session.

Ultimately, The Dior Luxury Beauty Retreat sets the bar extremely high. The phone was ringing off the hook when TRBusiness visited and the walks-in were also off to a strong start – so it’s high time that this concept has become a reality.

Further to the above, TRBusiness has been informed that QDF is set to make another announcement at the TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition & Conference in Singapore next week.

READ MORE: Qatar Duty Free dials up the luxury with new Dior boutique at DOH

READ MORE: Garrett Coogan joins Qatar Duty Free as VP on back of QDC acquisition

READ MORE: Qatar Airways and Qatar Duty Free to sponsor ‘Match for Hope’ event

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