Oman tourism: Jabal Akhdar gears up for summer visitors

om touBy Gautam Viswanathan : Summer in the Middle East normally brings with it soaring temperatures, but for hotels high up in Jabal Akhdar, it marks the beginning of the summer tourism season.

With temperatures in Jabal Akhdar being significantly lower than the rest of the country this time of year, both Anantara and Alila Jabal Akhdar have laid on special offers, as they attempt to woo visitors from the Sultanate and the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). “A few days ago, the temperatures went down to as low as 10 degrees here,” said Angel Al Araimi, marketing manager for Alila Jabal Akhdar.

“With the rest of the Middle East being so hot right now, I am sure people would appreciate the much cooler temperatures we have in the mountains at this time of year.

“We have introduced a ‘15 Degrees Cooler’ campaign that runs from May to September, and it allows all GCC residents to book rooms at our hotel for just OMR99 a day,” she added. “This includes breakfast and dinner, and a 15 per cent discount on all amenities at our hotel. We have this offer every summer, and even now, we receive more than 100 inquiries a day, and about 20 or 30 of them translate into bookings, so this is good for us.”

Perched on the Saiq Plateau, more than 2,000 metres above sea level, the hotels are a two-hour drive away from Muscat, and command impressive views of Oman’s Al Hajar mountain range, characterised by steep canyons and a rugged but panoramic scenery.

Anantara opened its hotel on the Green Mountain in October 2016, as part of the Sultanate’s efforts to boost tourism in the nation and diversify the economy, and they too are looking forward to welcoming visitors to their resort this summer. Starting next week, the hotel will be running a ‘Beat the Heat’ campaign, which offers guests up to 30 per cent discounts on rooms and other amenities, such as wadi hikes, rock climbing, via ferrata, mountain biking and spa treatments.

“Summers in the Middle East normally mean vacation time, and we have something for every member of the family,” said Firas Rashid, director of Sales and Marketing. “The weather factor sets us apart, because across the GCC, temperatures rise to about 50 degrees, with 80 per cent humidity, but as you climb up the mountain, temperatures become about 15 or 20 degrees lower with zero humidity.”

“Last night, I left the hotel at 8pm and the temperature was 19 degrees and it was 42 degrees when I arrived in Muscat, so it gets even cooler at night,” he added, speaking to the Times of Oman.

“We are using this period to promote domestic tourism and are keen on seeing visitors from our neighbours in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, as well as the rest of the GCC.”

Although some hoteliers might feel the arrival of Ramadan would herald a drop in visitor numbers, Rashid believes this will not be the case in Jabal Akhdar.

“I understand that Ramadan is normally a time for families to be together and meet each other, especially during the first week, but we are expecting more people to visit us during the second week of the Holy Month, because it is actually easier to fast on the mountain, because you will get a lot less thirsty here,” he explained. “We have some great iftar offerings for everyone, so we are excited to see what this summer brings.”

-Times of Oman