Al Jabal Al Akhdar has the potential to become the region’s top mountain getaway destination if fine-tuned to further align with international luxury trends, says Dagmar Symes, General Manager, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort
How is the performance of Anantara in Oman? What are the recent milestones?
Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort has established itself as one of the main luxury players in Oman and the Middle East. We kicked off 2019 with a string of awards, recognising service excellence, world-class luxury and fine dining in Oman. We were listed as one of the top 100 hotels in the world by Elite Traveller and were bestowed the TripAdvisor 2019 Travellers’ Choice Award for ‘Best Luxury Hotel in Oman’. Our Bella Vista was awarded ‘Best Italian Restaurant’ & ‘Restaurant of the Year’ at the 15th Oman Restaurant Awards.
In May, the Spa at Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort was named ‘Leading Hotel Spa of the Year’ by the Leaders in Hospitality Awards. It was also recognised by the 2019 Conde Nast Johansens Awards for Excellence. This was a great start to the year and paves the way for more successes in the future.
How is Oman’s hospitality industry shaping up?
The Sultanate has witnessed a huge surge in visitor numbers and this is continuing to rise. Tourism currently is amongst the fastest growing sectors offering more employment and career prospects for local talents with key players emerging in the market. As cited in the Oman Tourism Strategy 2040, tourism will convey increased, better and more diverse opportunities for Omani talents. It aims to increase the number of hotel rooms and to expand facilities outside the most popular cities. By 2040, the sector targets to achieve annual arrivals of 11.7 million.
Oman, with its warm and welcoming community, has already established itself as a unique tourism destination over the past few years. Further development as well as investments will place Oman firmly on the map, creating socio-economic benefits for the Omani population. The Sultanate’s unique character help attracts a diverse array of visitors seeking sustainable eco-friendly mountain tourism, and this presents Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort with a real opportunity to contribute to this growth.
Can you talk about the prospects and the challenges in the industry?
Growth has to be matched with supply. The local talent pool within the hospitality industry is a fresh and a dynamic one as young and talented Omanis are currently on the verge of taking the lead. The industry has the capacity to play a larger role in the country’s growth if all parties come together. This, along with, preserving Oman’s cultural heritage, will ensure that tourism prosper.
What are your future plans?
Al Jabal Al Akhdar holds a special place in people’s hearts and is steeped in culture and tradition. The location has the potential to become the region’s top mountain getaway destination if fine-tuned to further align with international luxury trends.
As for Anantara, we plan to continue positioning ourselves as a unique resort offering memorable journeys while we further develop the brand in straight alignment with the local community. We take it upon ourselves to elevate the guest experience, whether through the addition of more mountain gurus or offering authentic experiences to mirror the real Oman to visitors. In the coming years we are planning to expand the brand within the Sultanate and the Minor Hotels portfolio as a whole.
What is your industry outlook?
Oman is witnessing economic growth and stability, with the sector sighting expansion with more hotels, meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) in Oman as well as vacation apartments and more. Tourism is amongst the many sectors expected to lead the way and by 2040 the tourism industry is expected to account for six per cent of Oman’s GDP and thus playing a major role in generating employment for Omani nationals. Further investment in the Sultanate’s tourism sector is also set to increase employment opportunities in tourism to 45,000 by 2020. We foresee a healthy growth in the sector backed up with infrastructural investments spreading all over the Sultanate and across all governorates.
Muhammed Nafie is an Assistant Editor at Oman Economic Review.