W has its roots in New York, but W Muscat has an Omani heart and we’re here to create real connections with the community, says Gerald Chevasson, General Manager of Oman’s newly opened lifestyle destination
W Muscat opened its doors at Shatti al Qurum in April 2019. How is the ‘W experience’ being received in Oman?
The W brand is globally recognised and people, especially those who have stayed with us before, know that we are bringing something fresh and vibrant to the scene. We are a luxury hotel but not in the traditional sense. W Muscat is a true disruptor in its aesthetic, amongst the market’s laid back vibe and competitive landscape of 5-star tranquil retreats. We are here to offer an escape, but we’re also here to push the boundaries and shake up the scene around us, which is where our passion for design, music, fashion and fuel come into play.
We have 279 rooms and suites from the Wonderful to the WOW (to open later in the year), a 1,800sqm WET pool, signature AWAY Spa, playful meeting and event spaces, and spectacular views of the waters of the Gulf of Oman. But more than that, W Muscat offers a striking design narrative, steeped in storytelling and inspired by the locale, and B&F (our signature take on F&B) options that push the boundaries of the new normal.
In terms of location, Shatti Al Qurum was definitely the ideal fit as the district is vibrant and ever-evolving. Yes, W has its roots in New York, but W Muscat has an Omani heart and we’re here to create real connections with the community. We have some really exciting happenings coming up.
Design is in the DNA of W. Can you elaborate on the salient features of W Muscat’s design and architecture?
Design that defies expectations and sparks imagination is one of our passions and it can be felt through every part of W Muscat’s experience. An ode to authentic Muscat culture, tradition is translated in an unexpected and edgy way mirroring the modernity of a W hotel. The designs are not only inspired by physical aesthetics but also social and cultural nuances, with every element purposefully crafted.
W Muscat is an extraordinary fusion of two unique worlds, Oman’s rich heritage and incredible storytelling culture with New York energy and chaos. Months were spent really getting to know Oman and the design interprets the country in a creative way. We’ve taken the social, natural and historical aspects of the location for inspiration and then turned them on their head, shaking up what you think you know about Oman. It is at the crossroads of these three elements that we are able to create a complete 360° experience for our guests.
For example, the first thing you’ll notice when you come to W Muscat is a 10 metre-tall, 9-tonne Frankincense Tree sculpture, representing the welcoming hospitality of Oman. Close by is our signature W sign, which is inspired by the local mashrabiya pattern, in combination with backlight neon colours, creating a WOW statement upon arrival. In the Living Room you’ll find a cascading, golden chandelier, which was created to reflect the rugged landscape of the surrounding Al Hajar Mountains. The design of our grill house, CHAR, is reminiscent of an Omani dhow, with rich wooden planks and a low-rise ceiling that give the impression of being inside the cabin. Even our WET Deck, with floor to ceiling mirrors, is inspired by Bimmah Sinkhole. There are literally countless other creative homages to Oman to be found in every space of W Muscat.
What are your future plans?
We’re ready to challenge the typical relaxed, chilled-out nature of Muscat. We want to reimagine and reinvent this traditional capital in a refreshingly unexpected way. W Muscat is looking forward to the upcoming opening of Siddharta Lounge by Buddha-Bar our breathtaking rooftop cocktail lounge, which is going to light up Muscat’s nightlife, as well as Ba Ban, our eclectic 1930s Shanghai-inspired restaurant. We will also be engaging with some top local talents and powering some incredible programs in the months to come – some of our international favorites and some surprises.
How is Oman’s hospitality industry shaping up? Can you talk about the prospects and the challenges in the industry?
Tourism in Oman has seen tremendous growth in the last 40 years as part of its diversification strategy. The hospitality industry of Oman is expected to be worth US$1 billion by 2022 and the number of international tourists is expected to reach 3.4 million. The Sultanate has been hiking up its tourism drive in the European and GCC markets as well as opening up tourist visas. This will give the entire hospitality industry some great momentum. At W Muscat we’re very excited about what is yet to come and are on a mission to create distinctive experiences and bring Whatever/Whenever service culture to life.
Muhammed Nafie is an Assistant Editor at Oman Economic Review.