Luxury hotels plant flags in Muscat

A room at the W Muscat.
Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

It's not made any recent luxury "hot spot" listings, but one of the places that has long topped my bucket list is Muscat.

I fell in love with the little bit of what I saw of Oman a decade ago, when I made a short side trip from Dubai to Six Senses Zighy Bay.

Still, because the resort is in a remote coastal region, I only got a brief sense of the country and its culture from the staff and a day trip through rocky mountains that are mostly inhabited by goats.

Oman's capital, Muscat, with its historic buildings and mosques, I'm told, is downright magical. And if luxury hotel development is any indication, we may soon see the city climbing a lot more than my personal must-see list.

Last month W Hotels opened W Muscat, which joins luxury brands like Kempinski, Shangri La,  Ritz Carlton and Chedi, which was one of the first contemporary luxury properties to enter the market.

The W is situated along the historic city's lively waterfront, with the rugged Al Hajar Mountains as its backdrop.

All 279 rooms have water views, and the hotel offers a beachfront pool as well as spa with 10 treatment rooms and a hammam.

"Muscat is a fascinating and exciting city. Its cultural DNA honors millennia of tradition while looking to what's new and next -- an ideal match for the W brand," said Anthony Ingham, global brand leader for W Hotels Worldwide. "The arrival of W in Muscat marks a new chapter for both the brand and this buzzing metropolis. The hotel reinterprets Omani design and cultural traditions to create a modern, energetic and stylish escape unlike anything the sultanate has seen before."

While the W opening may mark a new chapter for Muscat, it certainly won't be the last.

The Oman Times reports that the number of tourists coming to Oman has more than doubled in the last 10 years, from 1.54 million in 2008 to 3.24 million in 2018.

And continuing to build tourism is one of five sectors the government is pursuing as part of its effort to expand its economy beyond fossil fuels, the newspaper says.

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