Muscat: Hotel operators in Oman were delighted to be operating at close to full capacity over the long weekend, as they dealt with a late flurry of bookings to add to what is already a busy period.
The Isra’a Wal Miraj holiday meant that 3 and 4 April were public holidays in Oman, prompting many people to make plans for a long weekend, just a week after they were announced on Sunday, March 27. This time of the year is already a busy period for hotels, given that the tourism season in the country normally runs from April to September.
However, hotels were still able to take in visitors from Oman and the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, adding that the late boost to their occupancy and revenue before the summer months was very welcome.
Dr Mary Ann Roberta, Director Marketing and Development, Al Nahda Hotels and Resorts Group, told Times of Oman, “We saw a rise in bookings the moment the holidays were announced, both here at Al Nahda Resort and Spa in Muscat and in our Sahab Resort in Jabal Akhdar. The Dunes Resort stayed open on special request for six days. We normally close that for the summer on 31 March, because of the weather but this year it filled up really quickly.” “We are delighted with the response: the long weekend came as a very pleasant surprise to all of the leisure industry operators here. There was high occupancy, good business, and it was like a last send-off before the summer came in. This could not have come at a better time” she added
Many people chose to leave Muscat for a few days and explore other parts of Oman. Apart from Jabal Akhdar, the Masirah Islands and Ras Al Jinz were popular areas close to the capital that saw a rise in visitor numbers.
Vijay Handa, Cluster General Manager, Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve, said, “Both Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve and Masirah Island Resort were full for the last few days and we had to turn people away. This was unexpected, particularly in Duqm as, although business in that sector is growing every year, it tends to be people who are travelling to Salalah who stopover, but we did get a few walk-ins.”
Well, it was very busy over the long weekend and we had a lot of enquiries,” Firas Rashid, Director of Sales and Marketing, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar, added.
“The hotel was already full from Wednesday to Saturday even before the weekend had begun, which is great news. We had a very large number of bookings the moment the holidays were announced. These were mostly from Oman, with some from the UAE from Thursday onwards.
Rashid said: “Unfortunately, we had to turn some people away because we were full, especially on Thursday night. This period is already busy, because of the high demand from the European holiday season. We were already at 70 percent occupancy with guests from the UK, Italy, France and Germany and this holiday period made us reach hundred per cent occupancy.”
Hotels also did good business in Oman’s northern governorate of Musandam and southern Dhofar region, where tourists continue to ensure occupancy rates are high.
James Hewitson, General Manager, Anantara Al Baleed Resort, Salalah, said: “We’d expected a busy weekend because we had a good response as soon as the holidays were announced. We had a special offer called ‘extend the fun’ which includes half-board and late checkout at 6pm. Within the region, we saw bookings pick up for three nights – obviously, the European crowd has a longer stay duration. We are pleased with that, because it showed that people were keen to get away for a short break.
Qasim Hassan, Reservation Agent at Six Senses Zighy Bay added, “We are full at the moment because of Easter and the holidays in between. Most of the guests are from Europe at this time of the year, and some of our most loyal in-house guests booked their stays last year. Unfortunately, we have no availability at this time of the year, so if people call, we can suggest an alternative date. We expect this to continue at least until the end of April.” However, while some chose to visit areas outside Muscat, many of the European tourists were keen to explore the capital.
“For the rest of the month, we have tourist groups from Europe, and we also had many staycation plans, with a special plan for rooms and breakfast,” said Praveen George, GM Sales and Marketing, Al Falaj Hotel. “As we expected, many of the people who live in Oman travelled outside Muscat to take advantage of this long weekend.”
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