The Chedi in Muscat Revisited
One of our favourite places in the GCC is Oman, lovely people, great places with the perfect balance of cultures. A very understated location.
Other than Zighy Bay (a must see) and Salalah (visit only if you have time), we just seem to always be going back to Muscat, and our home from home, The Chedi Hotel Muscat, Oman.
This would be the 3rd time Mashaalla Style Council members visit the resort, incognito of course :-). On this occasion we picked the Eid holidays, when we normally go around late September or early October when the weather is milder and less humid.
The Chedi is part of the GHM portfolio of hotels, and a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. Its architecture is traditional yet very elegant, the landscaped gardens are pleasing and impressively manicured, the outstanding SPA and gym services are beyond amazing and last by not least the property boasts the longest swimming pool in the region with infinity views and very large comfy sun beds on either side.
You get the idea, and if you want to read more about the hotel facilities and Muscat in general, check out our first visit review to this unique property.
With a heavy heart, we have to say this trip was not our best visit, and we blame the guest relations staff who are responsible for marketing and bookings for not making its guests aware of some key material changes that erode the unique selling points and core DNA of this hotel.
First of all, we escaped to the Chedi leaving our kids in the capable hands of family whilst we chillax, but it seems fellow guests brought theirs and forgot to keep some control and managed to wake us up at 8:30 on the weekend. If you really want to be far from people who wake you up earlier than you want on your holiday you will need to spend more and get yourself a villa, and that is not a guarantee of absolute serenity. Not a problem, we can manage that.
For Eid, the Oman authorities have banned alcohol 2 days before Eid, not an issue for us, but for people travelling from around the world to go to the Chedi and enjoy a glass of wine in the beautiful surroundings, it would have been wise for the hotel reservations team to tell people in advance (we booked 2 months before arrival) or at least advise them a week prior to arrival, people would not necessarily change their plans, but it would have avoided surprises. Again not a problem, we can handle that.
The first bad point on this trip, is that the Beach Restaurant @ The Chedi was closed for renovation. You would think that one of the top restaurants in Muscat being closed, the reservation team would have advised people, imagine one of the things they might have been looking for is being served exquisite fish dishes on the beach terrace with full sea view, and that is not there for us to enjoy.
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This kind of customer relations just does not make sense when you are paying top dollar to stay at a 5 star hotel. Worse still, the Al Bustan hotel in Muscat, its competitor and the other great sea food restaurant offering in Muscat, was also closed for 6 months renovation, commercially it doesn’t make sense for The Chedi to have their best restaurant closed at the same time as the competition.
The second bad point of the trip, the main restaurant, the outdoor area was painted a couple of days prior to our arrival, and guests can smell the paint drying odor, very unpleasant, you’d think they would have done this during the off peak season.
The third bad point of the trip, as the main evening beach restaurant is closed, guests are really limited to the main restaurant, which is also the main breakfast dining area. In the day, everyone is wearing shorts/t-shirts/flipflops, whist in the evening we found that we cannot wear shorts even though they were tailored and sporting Todds shoes, even when sitting in the sweltering heat in the outside area.
Don’t get us wrong, The Chedi is still a great location and property, it is definitely worth spending 3-4 nights at least once in your lifetime. However small details is what makes the difference between a regular 5 star hotel and a boutique leading luxury hotel status. These quality slip-ups witnessed on our 3rd visit are inexcusable, and have to be rectified by their management, with the world being such a connected place there is no reason why the hotel guest relations team do not keep the guests in-the-loop of changes.
Oh well, thankfully most of us are fortunate to vote with our wallets, and there are plenty of choices out there, and letting greed overtake guest relations is just not acceptable, and that does not just affect The Chedi, but how we will look at GHM hotel group as a whole as we do visit their properties across the world.