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Weekend escape: Stay at Centara Muscat Hotel
November 1, 2017 | 8:01 PM
by Antara Bose
 
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The most amusing thing about Muscat city is how quickly a whole new building comes up. I’d driven down this road a number of times and I would bet there were no white boards concealing a fancy 10-storey building (and that qualifies as tall, for us) behind it. But there it was; a swanky new business hotel, right in the heart of the bustling Ghala Heights – Centara Muscat Hotel.

You’d expect a new hotel to take a little time to get noticed, but the almost full parking lot said otherwise. Surrounded closely by other business hotels, hotel apartments and other such entities who would qualify as competition, I wondered if there was a specific reason for the rush. Before I could speculate further, I was guided to my designated underground parking and quickly learned that hey, this was what the hotel felt like on an average weekend. Impressive.

Expanding horizons, Centara Muscat Hotel, marks the start of a new chapter for the international brand Centara Hotels and Resorts. Being the brand’s very first hotel in GCC, Muscat was chosen for more reasons than one. For Centara, Muscat promises to be a destination that thrives on tourism, trade, and logistics. With several tourism infrastructures in the pipeline, coupled with Oman’s peaceful, stable, and hospitable image, Centara has a lot to offer for inbound travellers as well as locals looking for a classy business hotel. With two more properties soon to be opened in the region, one in Deira Island Dubai, and the other in Doha, Qatar, Centara intends to establish the same name in the GCC, as it has achieved in its home country, Thailand.

I was shown to my Business Club Suite by a jovial young attendant. I firmly believe that the exuberance exhibited by the staff of any hotel can really influence the mood of the guest. In my case, from the receptionist to the attendant, they were all doing a jolly good job at it. My room came as another delight, for along with being more spacious than I expected, it had a cosy little living-space (if we can call it that) just by the entrance. It provided for the perfect spot for a coffee-with-a-book session. As much as I would have liked to do just that, I knew I had a special spread waiting for me at Centara’s much talked about Turkish restaurant – Akdeniz. I was keen to try it out (well, keen and hungry).



The highlight of the evening was definitely the supper. I was handed a menu which outlined my 4-course meal that had a selection of the best dishes from all the three restaurants of the hotel. As I sat sipping on a glass of refreshing watermelon juice, I decided to get chatty with the staff and learn more about the restaurant – the name, the theme, and definitely about the chef who was now busy getting ready a fabulous spread for me.

Akdeniz is named after the Mediterranean Sea in Turkey. Though the restaurant draws its inspiration from traditional Turkish recipes, its cuisine is a delicate blend of Turkish taste fused with the more popular Mediterranean flavours. Akdeniz takes pride in its oriental Ocackbasi grill (the stove, to put it simply) serving an assortment of the traditional dishes. At the same time, the passionate chef cooks up an equally great variety of innovative dishes that use ingredients common to Mediterranean cuisines.

Eager to try the main course, I decided to go a little easy on my Caesar Salad as the Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce seemed quite promising; and it was definitely worth the wait. A specialty of The Roof restaurant, the dish was cooked to perfection with the peanut sauce blended symbiotically well with the well-done chicken. Along with it came a generous portion of lamb kofta. The lamb kofta is a part of an Akdeniz favourite – the mixed grill platter. The larger platter also serves lamb chops, lamb kebab and chicken kebabs, along with the lamb kofta, which my mate, despite claiming that he had a full-stomach, devoured completely. The dinner climaxed with a hearty bowl of caramel custard from The Roof Restaurant. Though I was perfectly satisfied with my dessert, I’d heard so much about the Um Ali Crème Brûlée at Akdeniz that I had to ask about it. And I wasn’t wrong, for it turned out to be a dish that the chef took great pride in.

With a content stomach but a mind that still hadn’t satiated its curiosity, I went about to inquire about the rather large tray that had just sailed past me. Yes, I’ve been told its bad manners to peek into other people’s plates, but in my defence, I was being subtle. And besides, if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t know that the platter was holding another one of Akdeniz’s preferred appetisers – a plate with generous portions of baba ganoush, tabbouleh, mutabal, hummus, muhammara and four pieces of warakaenap. I made a mental note to start with that the next time I made a visit and the chef assured that he’d prepare a ‘special’ plate for me.

Apart from Akdeniz, Centara also has Tiptara that offers international cuisine, and the newly opened The Roof that specialises in barbecues, grills, and variety of mocktails. The perfect venue for private events, The Roof overlooks a fair-sized rooftop pool and the busy centre of Ghala Heights down below. Primarily dedicated to business travellers (though I thoroughly enjoyed my leisure weekend just as much), Centara has five customisable banquet and meeting facilities, the Premium Club Lounge on the top floor, the well-equipped Cenfit Fitness Centre and the well-renowned Cenvaree Spa – everything to satisfy the discerning demands of every traveller.

I took the last hour to make the most of the sofa that had been luring me since I had stepped into my room. As I curled up to get a few moments to myself, I marvelled at how Centara had inculcated true Thai hospitality while maintaining all the requirements of a classy business hotel. —[email protected]

Centara Muscat Hotel

Ghala Heights, Bausher

+968 2423 6600


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