The Grande Dame of Muscat undergoes major upgrade

It’s out with the old and in with the new. And no one deserves this more than the Grand Dame of Oman — The InterContinental Hotel Muscat.
When Muscat was just an open space dominated by sand, grass and marshes, the iconic building witnessed more than four decades of transformation and with the collective effort of Omran, the Ministry of Tourism and InterContinental Muscat, a comprehensive renovation has been taking place which started in 2016.
“The InterContinental Muscat was built to last. Opened 41 years ago, it has played an incredible role in the culture of Oman and Muscat. It was the first international hotel that has opened and was the venue for many wonderful moments all throughout the country’s history. Because of its age, the property needed an enhancement,” shared Thierry Perrot, Regional General Manager of InterContinental Hotel Muscat.
“This lady, the Grand Dame of Oman, has not undergone any surgery since the last 41 years and she needed the enhancement in response to the demands of our guests who had loved the immaculate service but wanted to see our facility keeping up with modern developments. We worked hard with Omran and the Ministry of Tourism to elevate the experience infusing almost every corner of the building with Omani flavours,” he said.
“We are the first ‘star’ hotel in Oman doing major renovations without closing the hotel. The rooms were completely stripped out of everything and only the wall structures remained. We created artwork,” shared Viji Kunjachan, Area Director of Engineering.
Working hand in hand with Purchasing Manager Mohammad al Wahibi, Kunjachan said, “We started from scratch. There was a lot of brainstorming session and strategic planning involved. We worked with nine contractors and an international interior design firm. We divided the work into three phases with each phase divided into 18 months work period. From the original 253 rooms, we have to make adjustments in between and upon completion of the full renovation, we will have 262. It was an impossible mission but because of teamwork, we succeeded in executing within our given time frame.”
“With the renovation, the hotel also went through a digital transformation utilising ‘smart room’ technologies which help reduce costs and enhance operational efficiency. We utilised the Cisco Meraki system to ensure that there is visibility and network connectivity wherever one is located in the hotel. We upgraded the backbone of our network to Cat6a cable making it very advance,” shared Information Technology Manager Laila al Barwany.
“There is a lot of new, transformative technology brought in. We have a stylish electronic door locks system — the most advanced that allow guests to unlock their doors via their phones. Rooms are now equipped with state of the art video technology to make sure that they have the ultimate guest experience,” she added.
While the hardware was upgraded, even the Front Office and Housekeeping unit also underwent massive upgrades.
Executive Housekeeper Suresh Kadkha shared that “the staff were trained properly in how this new technology works. We have contacted third-party firms to help elevate the knowledge of our staff and make sure that they are instrumental in providing a seamless experience to our guests.”
“Operating the hotel while there’s an on-going enhancement is a huge challenge. So we make sure that we provide comprehensive information and options for our guests including mentally preparing them to some inconveniences. We worked tirelessly to make sure that they still leave fully satisfied with the overall experience,” shared Front Office Manager Suhail al Balushi.
“Everything is about guest satisfaction — our goal is to maintain and satisfy the guests so when they come back, they will think of us first,” he said.
“We would love our guests to go home and share their experience with family and friends and create this word-of-mouth recommendation. We want our guests to have an emotional connection with the country — something they would remember not just because we are a luxury hotel but because of the flavour of Oman and this magic moment,” Perrot said.
As for Eunice Fernando, Director of Marketing Communications, “Luxury has to keep on changing. We have to be relevant to keep up with the times. As the longest running hotel in Oman, its history continues to live on through the young generation whose passion has never been stronger. I am proud to be part of this generation who never ceases to uphold the history and heritage of the Grande Dame.”