Hotel Check: InterContinental Hotel Muscat, Oman
PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS This is the city’s first luxury hotel (given special permissions and honors from the Sultan) dating back nearly four decades, and as such, it continues to hold such great importance in the new century among locals and diplomats alike. It is a hot spot for dining (the only hotel teppanyaki spot in town), and for an athletic club with a membership coveted by expats and citizens around the city. The current renovation is set to transform the already iconic property into a modern haven of comfort while maintaining many of the same features it once enjoyed from before.
PRICE Internet rates for a traditional room on the random dates we checked start at $120
CONTACT InterContinental Muscat, Oman, PO Box 398, Al Kharjiya Street, Al Shati Area, Muttrah, Muscat, 114, Oman, Phone +968-24-680000,www.intercontinental.com/muscat
WHERE IS IT The hotel attracts plenty of business and diplomatic business thanks to its location, but leisure traffic has a solid footing too thanks to its location within 15-20 minutes from the international airport and one minute from a stretch of beach open to hotel guests.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? Its façade lends no indication to the newly modern interiors that lie within including the original atrium lobby that was one of the first of the Portman style. A massive renovation is winding through the hotel from top to bottom to bring InterContinental’s focus on modern elegance while maintaining a high standard all along. The hotel has done its research on how to remain open during a renovation by keeping working guest rooms at a distance from those undergoing modern reworks.
ROOM FACILITIES For now, guest rooms show off comfortable furnishings with familiar Omani fabrics and king or paired queen bed topped with duvets and thick pillows. New accommodations will be quite striking; the first of them will be available this fall. They will feature tiled foyers leading to spacious rooms with area rugs, oversized beds with cushioned headboards and bedside power outlets, classy Arabic artwork with snazzy lighting designed to create shadows against the walls, and spacious desks with international power ports, speaker phones and free wireless Internet access.
Club InterContinental rooms enjoy special access to a private lounge with free breakfast, all-day refreshments, and evening snacks with complimentary cocktails plus a view of the bay. All rooms enjoy bright bathrooms with makeup and fog-free mirrors, Agraria verbena-scented toiletry stocked vanities, and new shower stalls with rainfall-drenching heads. Expect the entire property to boast its complete modern look by the end of next year. Views range between Haijar Mountain and sea views, both of which are popular with repeat guests.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS Dining is a huge source of business here including a program where hungry locals can sign up for discounts. Among the most popular dining spots is the Italian restaurant facing the pool with a pizza oven and exhibition kitchen. Other options include Japanese with teppanyaki and the all-day buffet. Al Ghazal does a solid job as hearty British pub-cum-gastropub, especially among locals. At inspection, Trader Vic’s was closed, but this is considered one of the city’s most famous and celebrated hangout spots especially for expats.
LEISURE FACILITIES The resort has one of the best athletic clubs in the city with thousands of local members that flock to the property to use one of the city’s most modern fitness centers (mostly Technogym equipment). In fact, this pool is so popular, it has drawn the see-and-be-seen-type from other cities in the Gulf. Part of the renovation in the coming years will encompass the spa where the gym, treatment rooms, and relaxation areas with sauna and steam rooms will be. The beautiful swimming pool stretches across the beachfront (a separate access gives guests way to the nearby sandy beach). Lifeguards and servers armed with a menu of refreshments and snacks serves guests and members that lie across cushioned lounge chairs ringing the pool. Splashing fountains and a winding pool with palm tree-fringed shade makes it popular with local members and guests who enjoy access for free.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The hotel’s main focus is accommodating conference groups, and it does it with swell performance. Its impending renovation will bring updates to the conference facilities making them among the best in town. This will give this diplomat-favored property an edge while boosting the free wireless Internet signal for all travelers. With such a strong food and beverage profile, this property is well-known amongst Omanis giving events an extra edge when they are held here.
VERDICT Muscat has many fine hotels, but few can relish the reputation that this property maintains for diplomats, business travelers, and those in-the-know travelers that love the pool grounds. The upcoming renovations should impress past visitors with a property beyond recognition.
(Pictures by InterContinental Hotel Muscat, Oman)
By Ramsey Qubein
Ramsey is a regular contributor to Business Traveler across all print, digital, web and social channels. He travels more than 400,000 miles a year criss-crossing the globe to report on hotels, airlines, loyalty programs, and all things travel.
You can find more from Ramsey at http://www.ramseyq.com/, on Twitter – @dailytraveltips and Instagram – @dailytraveltips