Mutrah Hotel… going down memory lane

Muntasir Shaaban Saleh al Farsy –

The Mutrah Hotel, the first hotel in the Sultanate, has a rich and eventful history.
It was opened in 1970 by the management of Al Falaj Hotel, though the idea for setting up the hotel came a year before.
Muttrah is an Arabic term for ‘faraway place’. Indeed, the moniker was apt because in those days, the hotel was away from heart of the city, and commuting long distances was something unheard of.
The hotel was named after the area, where the Falaj/Spring was running right into the Bait Al Falaj Military Camp.
In the late sixties, no one ever imagined the area would transform itself into a bustling neighbourhood with both commercial areas and houses.
Only a car workshop named ‘Samir and Qassim’ was close by, but later moved to Darsait on the request of the municipality. A scrap yard owned by Juma Abras was just behind the yet-to-come-up hotel.
To begin with, 19-room pre-fabricated structures were brought all the way from Australia and placed in the middle of a barren and rugged land at Wushail in Muttrah with only few huts in sight.
The work picked up pace soon after.
An Englishman named Tony was its first manager, succeeded later by Mohsin, an Egyptian.
Another hotel by the same name was constructed and opened in 1972. It was run by a Cypriot-Greek manager and later by an Egyptian-Greek, Papayannis.
Mutrah Hotel was initially licensed only for foreigners with strictly no check-in for Omanis.
It was known for its delicacies, especially the local lobster, drawing many Britons all the way from the Rusayl Camp. Al Falaj was full of British military personnel during weekends, mainly to use the swimming pool there.
Many foreign delegates as well as other guests would stay in the hotel on their business trips to the country. The tariff was about RO 20 per night, excluding meals.
With the passing of time, the hotel wore a different look. It was turned into a multi-storey building with a stately look.
The ownership too changed several hands. It is now run by a young and educated Faisal al Balushi, who has transformed it into a four-star hotel.
It has 43 rooms with all amenities, a bar lounge with snooker and darts entertainment, and a fitness centre. Like any other top hotel, it has a business centre with Internet facility and free Wi-Fi. It also arranges local sight-seeing trips for visitors.
It specialises in different cuisine, including Arabic, Chinese, Indian and continental.
The landmark buildings is located close to Muttrah Sea Road, the souq, Muttrah Fort and the Sultan Qaboos Port.