MUSCAT, Oman (eTN) – Cashing in on the new concept of Islamic hotels worldwide, especially in the GCC, Oman announced yesterday the launch of its first alcohol-free, five-star hotel. The Platinum, the first alcohol-free, 5-star hotel in the country, will open for guests from August 25.
Addressing a press conference at the Saphire ballroom of Crystal Suites in Wadi Al Kabir yesterday (Sunday), Shabbir Bhoriawala, the proprietor of the Platinum, said: “It is with pride we announce the launch of The Platinum, an iconic hotel in Al Khuwair — iconic for its eco-services, design, and architecture. And more importantly, our hotel will not be serving alcohol.”
Shabbir believes that the availability of alcohol is not something a hotel depends on. The majority of guests, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, opt for hotels mainly because of its location, service, security, etc., and he added, “And Platinum hotel will … deliver … that.”
The formal launch of the aesthetic-looking The Platinum will be done in mid-September. Said Shabbir, “But we will go ahead with [a] soft opening on August 25. Luxury, eco-friendliness, and aesthetics will be the hallmark of the hotel.”
To make his point, the enterprising businessman averred, “We already have a alcohol-free hotel by the name Crystal Suites in Wadi Al Kabir, and it is doing extremely good. I foresee business potential in this domain is quite good as people from the region are traveling more and more and would like to stay in hotels which respect their values and culture.” He also cites the example of Taj Palace hotel and other hotels in the neighboring United Arab Emirates (UAE), which are shariah-compliant (follows Islamic principles), and today they are the most sought-after hotels in the UAE.
When asked if an alcohol-free five-star hotel can be profitable without serving alcohol, Shabbir noted that most of hotel’s revenue emanates from its rooms division, and beverage service often doesn’t make much money because the margins are low and it is labor intensive.
After Taj in Dubai opened, since then many have emerged with exclusively Islamic-branded hotels in the UAE. Among the big names in the UAE are Shaza Hotels, Tamani Hotels and Resorts, Hospitality Management Holdings (HMH), Flora Hotels, and Al Mmulla Hospitality.
Shabbir added, “At the end of the day, customers are more attracted to a product that matches their needs.”
Shariah-compliant hotels (no alcohol, halal food, no pork, no discos, etc.) are catching up fast not only in the GCC, even markets in Europe are exploring the possibility of opening such hotels in a bid to grab the Arab market. They provide a culturally unique and relaxing atmosphere for travelers.
The profile of Shariah-compliant hotels is on the rise and in line with the growth in the number of Arab tourists. Travelers from the GCC spend about $15 billion annually on leisure travel, according to industry figures. Said Shabbir, “Our intention is to target all customers, and we believe that there are [a] good number of customers among non-Muslims who find it extremely comfortable in alcohol-free hotels.”
Shabbir is optimistic, “We want to create a product that differentiates itself. This concept will become very common in the next few years.”
At the press meet was S. A. Salman Rizvi, general manager, The Platinum. He observed, “The Platinum will be an harmonious blend of rich Islamic/Mughal heritage and ultra-modern luxuries incorporating legendary Omani hospitality. With 85 tastefully-done rooms and suites, The Platinum will epitomize luxury at its best. The hotel will offer diverse gourmet experiences and recreation for families, corporate entities, and leisure travelers.”
The hotel will encompass a wide gamut of in-room amenities including international direct dialing telephone (IP telephony), high-speed Wi-Fi Internet facilities, 32″ LCD TV with IPTV, video on demand, and Internet browsing through TV, in-room safe, mini fridge with non-alcoholic drinks, complimentary tea/snacks, etc. As an introductory offer, The Platinum offers RO35 for executive room, RO 40/50 for deluxe room-single/double, RO75/90 for royal suite–single/double, and RO 90/110 for presidential suite–single/double. All the rates are inclusive of complimentary breakfast. More details are available at: www.theplatinumoman.com .