He added that plans are currently in the final stages of design for the camp and that "we're just in the final stage of selecting an operator now".
"We're in the negotiating process," he said. "We already have the submissions, we've gone through the negotiations, we have an internal committee who will open the envelopes, as they say, and then we'll be able to decide which operator we're going to go for," Mattar said.
"We are hoping to have this off the ground and up and running by 2020."
The villas will range in size from one-bed units for couples, to three-bed units with family rooms for larger groups.
Mattar said that the idea behind the camp was due to the fact that there had been a major increase in "non-regulated" camping, with people pitching up tents across the mountain.
"We did not at the time have any facilities to offer, but we have looked at the trend in the market with glamping, luxury camps and it's become a very popular trend. We thought with the weather on Jebel Jais, which is 10 degrees lower than the coast, and the natural terrain there with the beauty of the Hajjar mountains, (it) would give us a unique location for a luxury camp.
“And we didn't go about building a hotel - we specifically went for a luxury camp to give it that differentiation in the market," he added.
The luxury camp is part of a new sustainable tourism masterplan announced by RAKTDA at Arabian Travel Market on Sunday.
As part of this, the organisation has partnered with local waste management authorities to set targets for hotels to reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill by 75 percent within four years.
Ras Al Khaimah, one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, has a target of receiving one million overnight visitors by the end of this year, and three million by 2025. Last week, the organisation said that visitor numbers in the emirate were up 12 percent year-on-year during the first quarter, which it said puts it on track to hit the 2018 target. It added that hotel occupancy during the quarter stood at 79.4 percent - up 4 percent on the same period last year.
Mattar said that in order to hit the three million visitor target by 2025 it is going to need many more hotel rooms. Its current hotel stock stands at about 5,500 rooms, he said, but that 6,000 more are now in the pipeline following an announcement by Emaar Hospitality last Wednesday that it is set to build a 249-room Address Hotel and 234 Address Residences apartments as part of its 2 million square foot development at Al Marjan Island.
"That is in addition to the Anantara, Intercontinental, Moevenpick, Millennium, Four Points by Sheraton and many other brands that are making their way to Ras Al Khaimah," Mattar said.
He argued that three years ago the emirate was heavily reliant on tourists from three main markets - Russia, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Now, he said “diversity is the name of the game”, with more tourists arriving from India (its fourth-biggest market), Scandinavia and from Eastern Europe, with four direct charter flights to Ras Al Khaimah from Poland and one scheduled flight from the Czech Republic each week boosting visitor numbers from these countries.
(Reporting by Michael Fahy; Editing by Shane McGinley)
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