Redevelopment plans considered for Oman hotel

Luxury Chedi Muscat may merge rooms into larger family villas

NEWS, Business, Chedi Muscat, Hotel, Redevelopment, World Travel and Tourism Council

The luxury hotel Chedi Muscat in Oman is considering redeveloping to merge some rooms into larger family villas with private swimming pools to accommodate wealthy Arab families.

The hotel’s general manager Markus Iseli said the number of room keys would be reduced and walls knocked down to create larger spaces as well as adding additional luxury elements.

“[The redevelopment would be] for the GCC traveller that looks for absolute privacy [and] seclusion because we have the royal families coming from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and they would ... rather have the privacy of their own pools,” Iseli said.

“We’re looking at giving [the hotel] a little bit of a fresh look [to help] re-enforce our position in the market as being one of the top three leading hotels.”

Iseli said redesigning the hotel could see the percentage of visitors from the GCC rise from 30% to 45%.

"This is a market that is certainly up and coming,” he said.

“The way the resort was built 11 years ago, it hasn’t taken this market into account.

“When you have a royal family travelling they’re always travelling in large numbers and us not offering connecting rooms means it’s certainly something that we’re potentially missing out on.

“Europe is still strong [in terms of visitor numbers] but we cannot depend on that market. We need to be flexible and look at other avenues; we’re [also] going east, looking into Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, we don’t want to have all eggs in one basket.”

Iseli said the Muscat market was “very strong” at the moment.

“We are far ahead of what we have done last year, so this is a good sign,” he said.

“In the next 3-4 years Oman remains in high demand.”

Iseli said Oman was yet to take advantage of its tourism potential but it was “catching up”.

“The Ministry of Tourism and the proper investment will bring it up to speed, in a controlled manner, not doing what Dubai has been doing or Abu Dhabi because I think that’s really our strength as a destination,” he said.

“We need to add additional infrastructure, such as free standing restaurants with a licence that can serve alcohol. Shopping is there but not to the extent of Dubai or Abu Dhabi, so it has potential and there’s more that we can do.

“There’s huge potential if they do it smart and continue the way they’ve started, it’ll be a success story, no doubt. We just have to be smart, don’t go wild and crazy.”

The World Travel and Tourism Council said last week Oman was on track to record the highest growth in tourism in the Middle East this year.

The council said tourism directly contributed OMR982.8mn ($2.5bn) to Oman’s economy in 2013, accounting for 3% of the gross domestic product (GDP). It is forecast to rise by 10.2% to OMR1.08bn in 2014.

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