By Deepak Sharma
Guests no longer just seek luxury hotels, they need luxury experiences in every stay
As authorities in Oman work aggressively to boost Oman’s already growing tourism sector as part of the country’s economic diversification plan, the hotel industry is ready to benefit from the move by expanding its offerings, particularly in the high-end segment.
The growth of Oman’s hospita-lity sector, primarily centred around high-end hotels, is driven by a number of factors including the fact that the sultanate provides one of the safest and most transparent investment environments in the region.
As per industry captains, foreign investors can easily find avenues to invest in, especially in the tourism sector. The boost to the sector has also been provided by the country’s recent move to indicate very firmly to the world that it is investing in the tourism sector for the long term and is determined to achieve the objectives of the 2040 National Tourism Strategy.
“We’re currently looking at a resurgence in Oman’s luxury hotel market that’s being propelled by a number of international events. As offerings in the sector have increased, so has the demand for luxury services that exceed the conventional,” said Gerald Chevasson, general manager, W Hotel Muscat.
According to him, “Guests no longer want luxury hotels; they want luxury experiences. People want to be dazzled and surprised. Personalisation is key and custom itineraries, amenities and individually curated experiences are increasingly in demand.”
Echoing similar sentiment, Panos Panagis general manager/district director, Radisson Hotel Group Oman, which runs the Hormuz Grand hotel in Muscat said that there has been a shift in people’s liking.
Whenever, a person steps into a hotel for a vacation or for any other work, he looks for a personalised experience.
Katrin Herz, general manager, Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton hotel said, “There has indeed been an increase in regional and global demand for luxury tourism, but we have also witnessed a shift in the way luxury hotels are experienced. We are welcoming more and more multi-generational families who are looking for an all-inclusive experience, where previously the luxury industry was dominated by elder, wealthy couples.”
The increase in number of hotels in Oman in recent years has also forced operators to adopt new strategies to stay head of the competition and attract more visitors while keeping profitability intact.
Herz said that while the regional market still makes up a large part of visitors, arrivals from international countries are steadily growing.
Oman’s government has been making efforts to attract international tourists in line with its goal to achieve 11.7mn arrivals by 2040.
With the recent opening of the new Muscat International Airport, relaxations in tourist visa rules, Oman’s participation in major international exhibitions, and the broadening of sports and leisure offerings, the sultanate has immense scope for increasing international tourism.
On her hotel’s initiative, Herz said, “Since first opening its doors in 1985, the hotel has maintained its reputation as one of the world’s most luxurious resorts, and as an ultimate destination for prestigious events in Oman.
“A recent renovation has also allowed it to surpass the grandeur of its palatial history and offer next-generation luxury experiences. Some of our special features include a 1km beach, 200 acres of lush beachfront landscaping, a 50m infinity pool and four lagoons, and of course the newly opened outdoor family-inspired Aqua Land. Our Six Senses Spa offers over 3,000sq m meters of facilities right along the beachfront, with a selection of wellness treatments that go beyond the ordinary.”
The newest addition to Oman’s hospitality sector, the W Muscat, is also taking a host of new steps to boost consumer experience. Chevasson said, “At W Muscat, we’re breaking the boundaries of luxury. We’re adding life and energy to the local scene through programming and happenings that celebrate our passion points of music, design, fashion and fuel.”
On challenges Chevasson said, “We have to constantly move in new directions and we continue to offer the unexpected, creating distinctive experiences that reimagine the luxury industry.
“As the world becomes more globalised, we have to be pro-active in the ways we attract guests.”
Herz said, “We are keenly encouraging the new generation of young and talented Omanis to join the country’s burgeoning hospitality industry, to elevating the community, and to supporting the government in its tourism strategy.”