Muscat: One of Oman’s top hotels can now expect upward of a thousand guests a day after once again opening its doors to the public, after undergoing a massive renovation.
The Al Bustan Hotel, which is now managed by the Ritz Carlton Group, underwent renovation over the last year-and-a-half, and has once again begun taking reservations from October 1. The official opening of the hotel takes place at the end of this month.
“We have 250 rooms so during our high season we have 500 guests in-house every single day, plus all the outside guests from our day passes, functions, events and weddings, so we will be welcoming on average a thousand guests a day during this season,” said Katrin Herz, general manager for Al Bustan by Ritz Carlton.
“In the last couple of days, we have been getting busier, and our soft opening will finish by the end of October.
“By November, all areas will be operational,” she added. “We have had hundreds of enquiries and for the last 18 months, the guests who plan their vacation with us at a certain time didn’t come to Oman and really missed it. The phone has been ringing and the emails have been coming.”
The last big renovation was 10 years ago, with it being a hotel standard to renovate every 10 years. All areas of the hotel were retouched, with the hotel’s famed atrium lobby and Majan ballroom receiving a new look and feel, with the guest rooms also being renovated.
“Our lagoon pools and suites were given a new design, and our rooms on the fifth, sixth and seventh floor have a soft redo,” added Herz. “We are very excited about the look and feel of our new food and beverage outlets. We have a new family aqualand, a kid’s pool, a playground, some slides and a small zipline, that was previously just a patch of grass, and it will be a lot of fun for the kids now.”
Planning began over three years ago, and 18 months ago, Al Bustan Palace was closed down to begin the renovation work. The resort welcomed its first guest after reopening on October 1, and the hotel opens officially on 30 October.
“There was a huge scaffolding in the lobby to get the project done, and the chandelier has been lowered by about eight metres, in addition to enhancing the dome of the atrium,” she said.” During the renovation, a lot of our staff went to other Ritz-Carlton properties in the region, and it was an opportunity for them to see other properties. Some of them were in the Middle East, some went to Munich, because they needed Arabic speakers in the summer, some went to the Maldives, some went to Japan. Some did masters degrees, so everyone was able to use that time and invest in themselves.”
First opened for a GCC summit in 1985, the resort has since hosted many government delegations and VIP visits, and the hotel hopes to maintain the high levels of Omanisation it currently has.
“We are very proud of our Omanisation and we are always above 50% Omani staff at the moment,” recalled Herz. “We just hosted a big recruitment day where we were looking to add to our teams and our other available properties in Oman. We have a lot of different training programmes and academies, so for us it’s just not a number. We want to advance Omanis into more senior positions so we have a lot of development programmes.”