Wednesday, March 22, 2023 | Sha'ban 29, 1444 H
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Mapping out the seasons of Mirbat

If you think Salalah and Mirbat are the same, you will be shamelessly mistaken. A lot of people usually make this mistake aside from interchangeably using Salalah instead of Dhofar to refer to the whole governorate that includes Mirbat.

Now that we’ve clarified that often repeated mistake, the next question to ask is that, aside from one of the best places to visit during Khareef, what else do we know about Mirbat?

Probably not a lot. And it is for this reason that a massive effort is being conductive to not only put Mirbat on the map, but also establish this part of Oman as an exciting destination not just for cultural tourism, but also as a yearlong escape tapping into its coastal strength, diversity of landscape and unique underwater treasure aside from relying on the natural charm and hospitality of the Omanis to entertain guests.

For those whose first time to hear about Mirbat, it is located on the shores of the Arabian Sea, the second largest town in Dhofar after Salalah and has been known for the traditional port of Mirbat and its old coastal village that served as an entrepot for the frankincense trade in the past.

Juan Paolo Alfonso has only been in Oman for three months but already realised the potential of Mirbat as the kind of destination people from around the world are looking for as a destination to disconnect.

Before Oman, he was stationed in places like Wyoming and Utah in the United States, the Caribbean, Australia, Costa Rica and Bali in Indonesia as a general manager for hospitality in different hotel brands.

He has now taken the helm as the general manager for Alila Hinu Bay in Mirbat and has made it his mission to establish the property as the anchor point in the said area, he also wanted, more than anything, to push Mirbat as an attractive destination for year long activities most especially water adventures.

“Mirbat is uniquely positioned in the country as a destination and it has lots of things to offer when it comes to tourism. First of, we have to look at its people. They are some of the happiest people that I know and have the best hospitality and warmth. Second, when you visit this part of Oman and really explore what this town is all about, you can’t help but be amaze by its scenery,” he said .

“There are a lot of people and travellers out there who would like to disconnect and this property and location could become iconic down the line. Hopefully, one of these days, Mirbat and the property will become iconic and be identified as the go-to place for an amazing adventure,” he added.

“Oman has not yet been globally established as a diving destination and we would like to work on this. We are looking into adding more activities that will highlight Mirbat and Alila as a destination for people to try. We are offering more watersports activities,” he said.

JP shared that in the last three months, he has learned that the waters in Mirbat are rich with underwater life and that going diving or snorkelling usually means seeing the best corals, dolphins, sea turtles including whale sharks and humpback whales.

“What we are planning to is that instead of mapping out activities of the mountains, we are going to map out the activities of the sea. We will identify the seasons of what you can see on the ocean like when the turtles, the humpback whales or the whale sharks come even the best diving seasons. We already have the framework for that,” he said.

“We have to begin exploring Mirbat and its potentials as a destination. Right now, when you ask, what’s a good restaurant to eat in Mirbat or what’s the best place to stay, it’s not so established. We wanted Mirbat to stand on its own as a destination. The resort will play a key role in that, attracting people and make this place a beach destination and escape,” he said.

A lot of the first time guests who had visited Mirbat had been blown away by the stark landscape and this contrast between the desert and the sea, including the diversity of wildlife, may just be the boost it need to finally make it stand out as a destination.

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