Muscat: She has been part of the hospitality industry for more than two decades in the region. Maren Kuehl, General Manager of Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, has been with the luxury hospitality brand in Oman for more than two years and has now fallen in love with the country, the people and the town of Al Jabal Al Akhdar.
In an exclusive chat with Times of Oman Maren Kuehl said: “I initially came after the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were over as part of the hotel’s task force to revive the operation in the aftermath of the pandemic. I was here on a three-month assignment but I am glad that I have stayed back to enjoy this beautiful place and the country.
“The people of Oman and, in particular, the local people in the mountains are so warm and hospitable. This is the very reason that we have 40 percent of the hotel workforce as Omanis and they mostly come from the mountains. They actually elevate the hospitality with their natural warmth and affection and we have really benefited from their presence.”
Maren, who hails from Germany, said: “Development in Al Jabal Al Akhdar is needed but it should not be fast-paced. We have to be mindful of the development pace of such a beautiful place.
“There is still scope of more hotels here but the government should make sure that the character of the town is not lost in the guise of development. The place still needs a lot of spotlight and more should be done to promote this lovely town.”
She added: “Sustainable development is the key for the growth of Al Jabal Al Akhdar and the essence of the traditional town should be safeguarded at any cost.”
‘Hectic season ahead’
Maren said the hotel is all geared up for a “hectic season” and has received “good bookings till early March next year.”
She said: “We are all ready for our guests, mainly from Europe now, after an amazing summer where we had the majority of guests from the GCC countries. We expect to have good business this winter. We are committed to providing heartfelt hospitality in one of the world’s most beautiful destinations. The resort promises an invigorating travel experience.”
Al Qalaa reopens
Maren informed that the Arabic Omani restaurant Al Qalaa reopened its doors at the resort from October 1.
Inspired by Khasab Castle in Musandam, Al Qalaa boasts a constellation of hanging lanterns and a sweeping mountain backdrop. Authentic recipes from Oman and across the Gulf are presented with flair. Ingredients are freshly harvested from the Arabian Sea and local farms – then crafted or grilled to perfection.
“We are expecting a great winter season and to enhance the authentic Omani experience, we have reopened our Al Qalaa restaurant from October 1,” she said.
Among the other activities during the season ahead is a Friday Garden barbeque fiesta, Chill about the Clouds offer and theme nights at different restaurants.
She said: “At our property we have to ensure a wide range of culinary options as usually we have guests here for a couple of nights. They like to explore the resort and providing them with a variety of cuisines is very important. We also have a lot of outdoor activities including rock climbing, mountain climbing, archery and mountain hikes. Our guests can enjoy the gym, spa and an infinity pool to relax.”
Day pass for OMR25
On special offers for the domestic market, Maren said: “We value the importance of domestic and regional markets and do provide various promotional offers throughout the year online.
“The year-long day pass for OMR25 provides guests a full day access to pool, gym and discount at spa. The full voucher amount can be used at all the hotel outlets.”
Maren admitted that the room tariff at the resort is higher as compared to competitors but said the hotel ensures that “rooms, facilities and services come with value addition”.
Maren further said: “There still needs to be a lot to be done to promote Al Jabal Al Akhdar and Oman in the international market. We hope to contribute in the best possible way to promote Oman and Al Jabal Al Akhdar in the Sultanate and around the world with the cooperation of the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism. The success of Al Jabal Al Akhdar Festival is a testament of the growing interest among locals and we hope we can host such events more often.”