Unlike the rapid growth in hotels in Middle Eastern states such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the Muscat hotel scene has remained fairly stable, with just one or two significant properties joining the market each year.
Established hotels including the beachfront Grand Hyatt, Intercontinental, and Al Bustan Palace (another Intercontinental hotel), and the Crowne Plaza with its clifftop views and private bay, have been joined in recent years by the high-end boutique Chedi brand, and the three-hotel Shangri-La complex outside the city centre.
But plans for two resort developments are set to add names like Kempinski, Fairmont, Four Seasons and Hotel Missoni to the city's ever extending shoreline, and Muscat is also beginning to embrace the three and four-star market. Here Business Traveller rounds up ten of the city's new and forthcoming hotels.
1) Park Inn Muscat
Opened in March 2009, this 175-room property is located just off Sultan Qaboos Street, the main highway linking the airport (around 15 minutes drive) and the Ruwi business district. It's the first Park Inn property in Oman, and joins the Radisson Blu Muscat as the second Rezidor hotel in the city.
Unlike the majority of the three-star Park Inn portfolio, this is a four-star property, with features including a rooftop swimming pool and bar, a fitness centre with separate male and female steam rooms and saunas, and the brand's signature RBG Grill Restaurant. All rooms apart from three of the seven suites have walk-in showers rather than bathtubs, and business facilities include four meeting rooms, a 24-hour business centre, and wifi internet access.
A full review of the Park Inn Muscat will be published in a forthcoming issue of Business Traveller.
2) Hotel Ibis Muscat
The first Accor-branded hotel in Oman, the Ibis Muscat is also the first truly budget property by an international group in Muscat.
Located a few minutes walk from the Park Inn, the 171-room hotel features an all-day dining restaurant, gym, four meeting rooms, and in-room facilities including air-conditioning and wifi access.
3) City Seasons Hotel Muscat
This regional brand has four hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and is due to open a 329-room / 65 apartment property in Muscat later this year.
Details are sketchy at present, but the five-star hotel will be located in the same area as the Park Inn and Ibis properties, within a shopping and entertainment complex.
4) Sheraton Muscat
Not strictly speaking a new property, but this hotel has been closed for over two years for a refurbishment programme, with a current reopening date of “late 2010”. One of the few high-rise buildings in the city, the hotel is located in the Ruwi business district, and will feature 230 renovated rooms, new all-day dining restaurant The Park, Asado (a South American Steakhouse), and 1753, a Bavarian-themed restaurant.
There will be a grand ballroom for up to 650 guests, an upgraded gym, new massage, sauna and steam rooms, a floodlit tennis court, and indoor and outdoor swimming pools.
5) Kempinski The Wave, Muscat
The Wave project is being developed on the beachfront to the west of the city centre, close to Muscat International airport, and will feature residential apartments and villas, a marina, golf course, and two hotels managed by Kempinski and Fairmont. The Kempinski property is due to open in 2013, and will offer 280 guest rooms and suites as well as “state-of-the-art business and leisure facilities”.
6) Fairmont The Wave, Muscat
Slated for a 2012 opening, the Fairmont property will be located next to the Greg Norman-designed golf course, and will feature around 300 rooms and suites, as well as “gourmet restaurants”, meeting facilities, a Willow Stream spa, and residences under the Fairmont Heritage Place brand.
7) Millennium Hotels Muscat (exact name not yet announced)
Muscat is staging the Asian Beach Games this December, and the one million sqm Al Mussanah Sport City will act as the nucleus for the Games, with events taking place at various locations along the Muscat shoreline.
The newly-built hub is in fact located 125km outside the city centre, but nevertheless it has been announced that Millennium Hotels will open a four-star property within the development in time for the event, which will also leave a legacy of serviced apartments, retail spaces, restaurants and a 400-berth marina.
8) Four Seasons Jebel Sifah
Located around 40km to the east of the city, past the Al Bustan and Shangri-La properties, Jebel Sifah is one of four projects being developed by Muriya, a joint venture between Egypt’s Orascom Hotels & Development, and Omran (formerly the Oman Tourist Development Company).
Similar to The Wave the project will feature residential villas and apartments, a marina, restaurants and cafes, and several five -star hotels. Among these is the Four Seasons Jebel Sifah, the first property by the luxury brand in Oman, due to open in 2012 and offering 200 rooms and a further 70 residential units.
9) Hotel Missoni Jebel Sifah
Hotel Missoni is set to join Radisson Blue and Park Inn as Rezidor's third brand in Muscat. The partnership between the hotel group and Italian fashion brand Missoni debuted in Edinburgh last year (click here for a review), and there are currently four Missoni properties under development in Kuwait (due to open in June), Cape Town (2011), Ilha de Cajaiba in Brazil (2012), and the 250-room Hotel Missoni Jebel Sifah also slated for 2012.
The property will feature two restaurants (including the brand's signature eatery Cucina), a 1,000sqm spa, two tennis courts, a private beach, "multiple swimming pools", and a 400sqm ballroom.
10) Banyan Tree Sifah
Thai-based group Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts will be partnering with subsidiary Angsana Resorts and Spas to manage a 239-room hotel and spa within the Sifah development, along with a further 77 residential units. The property is also due to open in 2012.