Healthy recovery in Indian market for Shangri-La Muscat: Rene D Egle, Area General Manager

Leisure & destination weddings key focus area in 2023
/ New Delhi
Healthy recovery in Indian market for Shangri-La Muscat: Rene D Egle, Area General Manager

René D Egle, Area General Manager, Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah, Muscat and Shangri-La Al Husn, Muscat

The Indian market for Shangri-La hotels in Muscat has seen a steady recovery in 2022 and the outlook for 2023 is even better. In an interview with India Outbound, René D Egle, Area General Manager, Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah, Muscat and Shangri-La Al Husn, Muscat says that he is looking at diversifying the market segments to boost the growth further.
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How has recovery been for Shangri-La Muscat in 2022? How far from 2019 are you now?  By when do you expect a complete recovery?

We witnessed healthy growth in 2019 and received over 500 room night requests from India, especially from weddings and MICE segments between 2018 and 2019. The pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions did slow down the growth, but we have seen a steady recovery since the country reopened. As we look forward to better days in 2023, we are focusing on diversifying our market segments while translating learnings into action.

Which are your leading markets currently and how important is India as a source?

India has always been one of our key markets and we have seen growing interest from both business and leisure travellers over the years. India holds a lot of potential as a source market, not just for us but also for Oman as a destination.

How do you plan to grow the footfall from India and what kind of targets are you setting for yourself in this regard?

We have built our strategy around strengthening awareness about the destination as well as our properties as multi-dimensional entities. Apart from leisure and business travellers, we are also focussing on establishing Shangri-La Muscat as a go-to hotel for weddings as well as the MICE segment.

There are unique challenges, but we are tackling them steadily. We are engaging a lot more with our B2B partners in India through direct meetings, with the help of our partners, workshops, and industry events. We will also organise fam trips for trade partners, corporates as well as media to give them a first-hand view of the properties.

As an adults-only resort do you see a lot of Indian visitors because India is supposed to be a family travel market?

Chicken- Black Olive – Aangan by Rohit Ghai

Our USP lies in the fact that Shangri-La Muscat has two properties adjacent to each other that cater to a varied customer base. Shangri-La Al Husn is an adults-only hotel perched up on a cliff and perfect for an intimate vacation for couples. Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah is a family’s dream come true which is spread across two distinct wings, Al Waha, The Oasis, and Al Bandar, The Town. Al Waha is a family-focussed wing with 262 rooms with spacious private balconies or patios to enjoy the view outside.

There are a wide array of dining venues and cuisines from all over the world to choose from. We have recently added Aangan, a contemporary Indian restaurant by Michelin star chef Rohit Ghai that offers a specially curated menu to guests. This restaurant is just the perfect spot to create memories while enjoying the diverse flavours of Indian cuisine.

What makes it a perfect fit for families with children is facilities such as a kids’ club, children’s pool, and splash pad, along with many activities to engage kids. The 500-metre Lazy River enables guests an unusual method to travel between Al Bandar and Al Waha by floating in inflatable donuts along a controlled water current. Inspired by the centuries-old falaj system that brought fresh water to remote Omani villages, it is the only Lazy River in Oman.

Do many Indians get married in Oman? How has this market grown this year?

The destination wedding market is recovering after travel restrictions were lifted. Indian HNIs are driving the surge in demand when it comes to destination weddings. Oman is favoured not just for weddings but also as a fabulous destination for pre-wedding shoots and events as well as for honeymoons. We are experiencing a steady recovery this year, and hoping for a better 2023.

What are your USPs as a destination wedding hotel for the Indian market?

The newlyweds can enjoy an intimate honeymoon at the adults-only Shangri-La Al Husn

There are many factors that work in our favour. Take, for example, the stunning location of Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah overlooking the Gulf of Oman, many indoor and outdoor venue options, ease of hosting all-inclusive weddings, one of the best banqueting and catering services in the country, a committed in-house team, and curated activities for the newlyweds and their guests. The newlyweds can enjoy an intimate honeymoon at the adults-only Shangri-La Al Husn next door.

Moreover, Oman as a destination brings in the freshness that Indian families are looking for in a wedding destination. We should also factor in short flying time from India, a simplified and faster visa process, and a short-term 10-day tourist visa for Indian citizens holding a valid visa to the US, Canada, Australia, UK, Japan, and the Schengen States, making it possible for large wedding groups to travel with ease.

As the wedding season in India is already on, are you getting a lot of demand from India?

While the pandemic did cause a brief pause but currently the wedding market is on a path of recovery. Compared to the last two years, there is healthier market growth and there is a surge in demand from India.

What is the positioning of your hotel? Which segments do you cater to?

Shangri-La Muscat resorts – Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah and Shangri-La Al Husn – are fully integrated destination properties that combine luxurious modern living with Arabian hospitality and a unique Omani flair.

Catering to both business and leisure travellers, we are currently focussing on weddings, MICE groups with stopovers on the way to and from the UK and Europe, and discerning FITs.

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