Design, music, fashion and fuel – the four passion points along with a local narrative differentiate W Muscat. Excerpts from an interview with General Manager, Gerald Chevasson
W Hotels are seen as being distinct, how do you go about creating this differentiation in your properties?
W was born in 1998 in New York to give a new and different product to the five-star hotel category. The idea was to offer something that was slick, vibrant, and accessible 24 hours a day; a place of continuous happenings.
At W we start by creating a story using various elements of the country we are based in. We then weave this narrative across various aspects of the hotel, working closely with the interior designers and architects to focus on three important things; the physical attributes of the country, its historical background and the culture of societal aspects.
Oman, for instance, is blessed with incredible mountains, a beautiful city, the winding shoreline of the sea, the emerald Bimmah sinkhole and bounteous wadis; a true oasis of nature. It also boasts an illustrious history celebrating the silk route of international trade, making Muttrah the gateway to the globe, creating the evolution of the city as we know it today. Similarly, the social aspects of the country are factorised and these ideas are fed into the design narrative, with a signature W touch.
At W we don’t do anything without a purpose. We have a story, a passion and strive to reflect the country through our hotels. The opening of W Muscat, will add to the ever-growing hotel landscape in Oman, to support the tourism projections.
We look to offer a different experience to our clients and visitors of Oman through our four passion points – MUSIC, DESIGN, FASHION, FUEL – which are very important. An iconic design sets the backdrop for what’s to follow, fashion and music bring our signature vibrancy to the brand and FUEL drives the appetite to nourish your body and celebrate fitness with our dynamic programming.
Internationally, W is known to showcase ‘respective locales.’ In what ways will you showcase Oman’s heritage, culture and beauty?
I will give you one example, when you enter an Omani home, the first thing that you smell is Luban – the heady scent of Frankincense. At the entrance of W Muscat, you are greeted by our 9-tonne stainless steel Luban Tree, standing at 10 metres tall to represent Omani hospitality and a local welcome on your arrival.
Inside the hotel there are countless design features that embrace Oman’s culture. From classic luggage trunks to symbolise travelling to slanted ceilings in bedrooms to give the effect of a tent in the desert. Because Oman is famous for fishing, we have a larger-than-life fishing net that illuminates and guides the way to our Great Room. Our Living Room light installation mimics the lines of the Al Hajar Mountains as well as copious exotic finds placed around the hotel; from faux-animals to bold furniture.
How many hotels does W operate worldwide and where are a majority of these located?
There are over 50 W hotels in the world. We have hotels in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Istanbul, New York, Washington, Miami, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Bali, Maldives, Brisbane…
We are a part of the wider Marriott International Group with more than 6,000 hotels around the world. We have a saying in W – being normal, will get you nowhere. We have to constantly evolve in a new direction. Our philosophy is ‘Whatever, Whenever’ and that’s exactly what we will offer to all our guests.
What can guests look forward to from W once it opens?
They can expect something new and unique. It goes back to the three-point narrative and four passion points, that’s what makes us different. We are going to open people’s minds by being curious. People are attracted by what is unusual for them.
W tries to blend playfulness with luxury e.g. the lobby is called ‘LIVING ROOM, the valet ‘WHEELS’ and the swimming pools ‘WET’ How do you explain this eclectic blend?
W was born out of a philosophy of doing things differently and a desire to have a different language. In our everyday conversation, we don’t say we are going to the gym, we say we are going to get ‘FIT’. That is a part of our DNA. At W, we give guests what they need, we talk to people. For us the guest experience is important.
Take us through some of the features and facilities of W Muscat?
We have 279 rooms, 28 suites and seven room categories which overlook the electric blue waters of the shoreline. WET, our signature swimming pool is 1800sqm in size with edgy cabanas, sunbeds and lounges to soak up the sun and enjoy a host of international DJs and offerings. As well as AWAY Spa, a generous 1000sqm setting with 10 treatment rooms, a hammam, a couples’ room and a salon with all the facilities. The hotel will also welcome FIT, our 24-hour gym.
Our B&F (beverage and food) outlets will offer contemporary menus and styling with something very new flavours to shake up the Muscat food scene. For businesses we offer seven meeting rooms – in W we call them Studio and Strategy. The ballroom is called ‘Great Room’ and can accommodate over 300 people for a seated dinner.
How will W Muscat contribute to the Sultanate’s larger objectives of promoting tourism and encouraging Omanisation?
Recently we hosted a recruitment drive ‘Casting Day’ where over 200 Omani talents came to audition for a job at W Muscat. We are committed to empowering Omanis looking for a career within the hospitality sector and are in the process of onboarding a number of young, energetic and dynamic Omanis to become a part of the W brand. We are really looking forward to bringing What’s New/Next to Muscat with our Omani spirit and unmistakable W style.