Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel, reopened in late 2018 with extensive enhancements. Katrin Herz, General Manager, talks about the key trends influencing the luxury travel industry
How was 2018 in terms of news and business for you, and what do you have planned for 2019?
This year, we have centered our efforts on completing an extensive renovation for our palace hotel, which re-opened on October1, 2018, to embrace the evolving needs of families and the modern global traveller. The result is a next-generation luxury experience.
Our rooms and suites have undergone extensive redesign to reflect true Omani culture and heritage, with a mix of modern elegance and state-of-the-art technology. The hotel’s restaurants have also had an exciting transformation, with an extended two-level terrace at Al Khiran Kitchen for our guests to have an even more enjoyable dining experience.
Most of the refurbishment works was carried out by the Royal Estates at the Royal Court Affairs in Oman, while renowned luxury integrated design firm WATG and affiliated design studio Wimberly Interiors provided some of the other architecture and interior renovation under the supervision of the Royal Estates.
As Muscat’s premier destination for the most prestigious wedding celebrations and events, our grand ballroom and meeting rooms have been carefully reimagined to touch on our guests’ five senses. Of course, they carry the best of Omani hospitality, and a legendary Ritz-Carlton service.
We are now looking at the last quarter of the year with great excitement and anticipation, as we reintroduce our newly renovated rooms and facilities to our guests and visitors over the next coming months. We are expecting 2019 to be a year of intense sales activities especially toward our new and emerging markets such as Russia and India, but also amongst our more established markets like the United Kingdom.
Finally, we will be participating in key upcoming travel trade events such as the International Luxury Travel Market and World Travel Market among others, organised by Oman’s very active Ministry of Tourism.
What key trends are influencing the luxury travel industry in the GCC, and how are you responding to these shifting customer demands?
We have noticed that families increasingly travel within the luxury segment across the GCC, usually for extended vacations. The Ritz-Carlton brand has adapted to this trend over the years with the development of our signature Ritz Kids programme, and at Al Bustan Palace, we have recently created a new outdoor experience dedicated to families, called Aqua Land. This extensive new space is complete with a kid’s pool, slides, playgrounds, a mini zipline, a Kids Club and a new outlet to cater to families. This new recreational highlight is a result of our renovation project, and we are very proud to be able to welcome and entertain family stays.
Another factor influencing luxury travel is authenticity. Travellers are looking for a story-telling lifetime experience. Therefore every aspect of the property is measured from the rich heritage and background redefined through modern luxury, up to the five senses. Our recent transformation has set the standard for luxury hospitality not only in Oman but for the region; there are many special features and gems that each have a story to tell.
Where do you think the future of luxury travel in the GCC is heading? What is driving this change and how do you plan to stay ahead of the curve?
Multigenerational travel is a trend that we see more and more in our hotels, with families travelling together with children and even grandparents, booking rooms and suites over several days. In line with this development, an increasing number of lifestyle luxury hotel brands have arrived in the GCC to offer more experiences for all generations. We are truly privileged to be located in a destination that combines natural beauty and a strong heritage with a sense of hospitality renowned around the world. This perfect mix places us in the spotlight of destinations and as a palatial resort and we remain steadfast on creating travel memories unique to our destination for our global travellers.
What are you looking forward to?
We are very excited about our summer promotions, visitors can escape the sweltering heat with a refreshing dip in the infinity pool, find tranquility in rejuvenating spa treatments or take a walk along a one kilometre stretch of private beach. We know summer brings people together. We have something for every guest, whether they are looking for a family-friendly getaway or just a day of solitude spent along the oceanside. With a private beach, numerous swimming pools and various activities for adults and children, we want our guests to truly have a summer to remember. Residents and Marriot Bonvoy members can take advantage of great offers and of course there is the Summer Resort Day Passes for that one day in the sun. Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton Hotel is a perfect way to unwind this summer with legendary hospitality.
Muhammed Nafie is an Assistant Editor at Oman Economic Review.