Muscat: Oman is a strong and growing destination for tourists from different parts of the world, especially from Europe, said a top-level official of a leading hotel chain that opened its first Middle East resort in Oman last week.
However, the availability of upscale facilities is limited in the country. "Our marketing efforts in Europe indicated a very strong demand for Oman," Mark Edleson, president of Alila Hotels & Resorts, told Times of Oman.
He was on a short visit to Muscat for attending the soft opening of his group's first luxury resort Alila Jabal Akhdar in the stunning Jabal Akhdar mountain.
"We feel that there are a lot of pent-up demand for Oman holidays. There are a lot of interest and excitement about the hotel in Europe," added Edleson.
This destination resort, which has 84 suites and two Jabal villas, will draw guests seeking a top-of-the-world experience combined with its ultimate location in the dramatic mountainous region of Jabal Akhdar.
Set 2,000 metres above sea level just two-and-a-half hour drive from Muscat, the resort will provide access to one of Oman's most spectacular and untapped regions.
He said the demand is evenly divided in different seasons of the year between GCC and nationals and Europeans. Alila Jabal Akhdar is expecting half of its guests from GCC countries, including Oman, and the remaining 50 per cent from overseas markets, especially from European countries.
Since the climate in Jabal Akhdar is always 10 to 15 degrees less compared to the sea-level, it will attract tourists from Gulf countries like United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait and Bahrain.
Edleson also noted that the Singapore-based hotel chain has a very strong distribution network throughout China, South East Asia and India. "These are the growing outbound tourism markets."
However, Edleson said that the anticipated occupancy rate at Alila Jabal Akhdar would be in the region of 40-45 per cent in the first year of operation. "We are trying to control it. We want to build the quality in the hotel and would like to well-position at the high-end of the market. So, our first push is not occupancy."
The resort is trying to train local employees as the hotel aims at 80 per cent Omanisation. "We are trying to source them from Jabal Akhdar. We are starting with 140 employees and as the hotel builds its name and occupancy, we expect to have 180 people."
The resort is owned by Omran, a prominent operator and asset manager of tourism in Oman, and it is managed by Alila Hotels & Resorts. Edleson said the resort will be fully operational by the end of May.
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