UNIQUE LUXURY EXPERIENCE

Oman 2020 | TOURISM & RETAIL | INTERVIEW

Perched 2,000m above sea level on the curving rim of a canyon, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort is at the forefront in promoting Oman's natural beauty and adventurous spirit.

Dagmar Symes
BIOGRAPHY

Dagmar Symes was appointed General Manager of Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort in 2018. She holds a wealth of experience in both the hotel and luxury retail industries across Europe and the Middle East. Starting her career with the leading hotels of the world, she previously worked in various luxury properties in France, Switzerland, and her native Germany. Prior to joining Minor Hotels, she held the position of cluster general manager at Phoenicia InterContinental Hotel in Beirut and Le Vendome InterContinental Hotel. In her role at Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, she is responsible for introducing and overseeing Anantara's vision of offering unparalleled experiences for its guests.

What roles does Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort play in the Anantara portfolio and in Oman's tourism industry?
Since its inception in 2001, Anantara has been creating hospitality experiences with the mission of bringing back the sense of excitement and anticipation that was once inherent to international travel—the true source of a globetrotting lifestyle, exceptional experiences, and self-discovery. Minor Hotels' luxury brand has bloomed into a collection of unique luxury hotels in both resort and city settings, delivered by a team of passionately dedicated hosts and discerning, curious travelers. Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar represents a prime example of this philosophy as one of the crown jewels of Anantara's portfolio. Perched at 2,000m above sea level on the curving rim of a canyon at the fabled Green Mountain, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar is the highest-altitude five-star resort in the Middle East. It offers a unique luxury experience that is different from other hotels in Oman and the region. Having been recognized as the leading and award-winning luxury hotel with the highest accolades in the region, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar has highlighted Oman internationally on the luxury hospitality front.

How do you expect demand for your facility to evolve in the medium term?
So far, demand has been increasing at a steady pace for the last three years. Oman itself has been getting more and more exposure as a prime travel destination in the Middle East. We are expecting positive growth in the next couple of years. One of the main factors affecting this growth will be the expansion of Oman Air, one of our key partners. Its growth will enable us to expand into new untapped markets such as China and North America. The vast expansion of the Sultanate's hotel portfolio highlights our clear positioning as an exceptional luxury mountain lifestyle resort and underlines the uniqueness of our offerings. We thrive to continually enhance our luxury guest experience by evolving with market trends and the needs of guests.

How can luxury facilities in the Sultanate remain ahead of the innovation curve in face of rising competition and evolving trends?
The very concept of luxury travel has been shifting in recent years, all in Oman's favor. High-end travelers are in a constant quest for unique and authentic experiences. This is where Oman's rich cultural heritage, natural wealth, and heartfelt hospitality come into play. We believe that modern luxury should not be cookie cutter or pretentious. The hallmarks of our approach are organic, non-formulaic, accessible, and intuitive experiences. We are known for our premium touches that have an energetic local spice, not faceless glamour. The kind of luxury and service we offer feels natural and at ease with our surroundings. One major trend in recent years is the rise of conscious tourism. This lines up perfectly with our culture of sustainability and environmental protection. As a lifestyle mountain destination, we are at the forefront in promoting the natural beauty of Oman and its adventurous spirit.

What challenges is Oman currently facing?
The main challenge is a logistical one. In terms of infrastructure, the transport network is still limited both on the international and local levels. Institutionally, the government has taken steps toward facilitating visitors' entry into the country and will hopefully continue to do so in the medium and long term. Furthermore, as tourism is one of the main pillars of the government's vision, educational institutions need to adjust their curriculum and academic portfolio to accommodate the rising demand for hospitality and tourism specialists.

What are your strategic growth priorities?
We are working closely with the Ministry of Tourism and local key players in the hospitality and tourism sectors to expand into new markets as well as to strengthen our presence in the main traditional markets such as Europe. It goes without saying that our growth plans are fully aligned with the National Tourism Strategy 2040. This includes creating job opportunities for locals, developing new projects, and highlighting the importance of sustainability throughout the Sultanate.