A caravan or a camel train is used sparingly elsewhere around the globe. But its use in hotels to lead the diners for a culinary journey makes it interesting and unique. It’s a new concept in the hospitality industry where a local dromedary is the guide. And this is part of a culinary journey at The Chedi Muscat along with Omani drummers amid an Arabic setting.
The camel will not get his hose into the tent or on to the plates. This concept has been beautifully conceived wherein the guests and visitors are not put into any trouble. Called the new ‘Caravan of Taste’ adventure is a five-stop, three-and-a-half-hour tour of the hotel’s contemporary interpretations of cuisines developed in Arabia, India and Japan.
About four months of planning and homework has undergone to finally launch the caravan on track at the hotel.
The caravan ride is on every week on Thursdays but they plan to soon start during weekends depending on responses.
A little after sunset as the guests enter at their own pace, the canopies are lit up along with the Tiki torches.
Before which the chefs are busy setting up the lawns, tables, buffet, lights and giving final touches. They are then ready to execute the work for the night.
Various departments like engineering, food and beverages, marketing and housekeeping are involved to make it a success. The journey begins at the Lobby Lounge Courtyard, where the hotel’s culinary impresario, or the chef, details the night’s routing.
The caravan sets off to the beats of classical Omani beats, pausing en route by the 103-metre Long Pool for Japanese appetisers at the pool’s cabana in a family-style setup.
From there, it’s down a sandy path to the hotel’s Beach Restaurant for an array of seafood.
The camel’s final stop is at the Serai Pool for shisha and dessert.
Like the camel itself, the Caravan of Taste is at the vanguard of never-before culinary happenings at the hotel.
Deepak Sharma, director of food and beverage, The Chedi Muscat, the man behind the concept, says:
“We wanted the guests to enjoy and talk about their experience even after they leave the hotel. The event gives a taste to our guests as there is a set menu with few changes made each week. As a memento, we present them instant pictures with the camels captured from a Polaroid camera.”
He has worked on the ‘touch points’ that reflect from his rich hospitality experience.
Right from the arrival of guests where they are served ‘Settai’, a welcome drink which is a mix of fresh juices, Arabic spices and Zettar, reflecting the true Chedi style till they wind up with shisha and dessert.
The food package is unlimited, allowing guests to relax and time to interact, converse or network among themselves.
The responses from guests so far have been amazing.
Roko Palmic, Director of Sales and Marketing, says, “With this unique concept, we want the guests from all around the world to explore the variety of The Chedi’s culinary offers combined with an authentic cultural touch of true Omani hospitality.”
For Bhawan, the camel’s owner from Barka, it is quite a task every week to cajole and be with his camel named ‘Khalid’.
Details like its breed, age, light weight, height went towards its selection which ended with a final interview with the owner.
One of the main challenges was to customise the Arabian camel to hotel’s requirement.
Permission was sought from the local municipality and the hotel management to get the caravan rolling.
Right from the moment the mammal enters the hotel, its ride along the pathways, and behaviour among the guests were taken into close consideration.
“I get to meet foreign tourists during my visit and interact with them. I use my time during the caravan profitably which also helps me to extend Oman’s culture and hospitality towards the tourists,” says Bhawan who owns about 32 camels having travelled to over 64 countries.
He took the best trained dromedary for the task and the one which was used during the Global Village in Dubai.
Deepak mentions about Valentina, the leader of a Russian troupe of 25 guests, who wanted to perform for them on a week day.
Her request was granted which made her visit to Oman memorable.
The tourists experience the authentic Omani experience during the Caravan of Taste leaving behind their experiences and often get back with e-mails of their desire to return again.