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Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel
Ranked #5 of 61 Hotels in Muscat
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 9 February 2012

ROOMS: impeccable, such comfortable beds. Bathroom products leave something to be desired, though - especially given that this is a Ritz-Carlton.

GROUNDS AND BEACH: magnificent! The grounds are perfectly manicured,pools are exquisite, and the beach is the best one in Muscat - which, it appears, doesn't have such great sand beaches, but rather rocky ones. Try the hammocks, or the double beds with a canopy! The staff are extremely attentive. Loved the lunches at the Pavilion restaurant, sitting outside with your feet in the sand while you eat!
One complaint: the atmosphere can get a little ... contrived. Is it really necessary to have horses on the beach to light 5 little tiki-torches every night? The first time it was charming, but after awhile it felt a bit like the hotel is trying too hard to give an authentic experience, while the whole thing just felt "fake".

FOOD:
- BREAKFAST: nothing to complain about the breakfast buffet. It was a dream.
- CHINESE: the best Chinese I've ever had. Although, once again, the "tea pouring" thing felt contrived. How much is one expected to ooh and aah over a teapot with a very long spout?
- SEAFOOD RESTAURANT: felt empty at dinner, but great location. Had lunch there - go for the crab cakes!
- DINNER BUFFET: the choice was all right. Not anything to write home about. Go for the à la carte menu. Their Indian food was sublime!
- ARABIAN NIGHTS EXPERIENCE: I forget what it was called. The dinner in the tents thing. 3 words: DO NOT BOOK. It was a waste of an evening. Once again, very contrived. Fun for about half an hour. Eating in tents was nice. But the food wasn't very good. Moreover, the waiters didn't give you a minute to eat! They serve you one course, then before you've had a chance to try anything or to ask for seconds of what you did like, they're taking the plates away and serving the next course! What should have been a long, relaxed meal became a race. The servings of each dish was only about a spoonful, so since there was no chance to have seconds of what you liked, we left still hungry! Definitely not worth the price!

LOBBY: fantastic, cavernous. Around X-mas and New Year, there were choirs singing carols, pianists - and an absolutely fantastic harpist that we could have spent all night listening to!

SERVICE: excellent. Ask for it, and it's done. The minibus into town was a fantastic touch as well!

SPA & FITNESS: fantastic array of massages, etc. Fitness room was a little stuffy and smelly at times - but good machines, and fun TV's on them!

In sum, only complaints are: stop making the hotel into a theme park, and fix your Arabian Nights dinner!

Room Tip: Pick the rooms on the higher floors - the view is much better!
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  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank PinkLemons
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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1,468 - 1,474 of 2,155 reviews

Reviewed 9 February 2012

We last stayed at the Al Bustan in 1999, when it was managed by InterContinental and very good indeed. After reading comments in other reviews, and knowing that it is now managed by Ritz Carlton (Marriott), I was expecting to be a little disappointed. Far from it!
We spent 8 nights there in February 2012. Our Mountain View room had been well refurbished; was well-appointed with an excellent king-size bed; very efficient air con; great shower over the bath; two wardrobes with plenty of hanging space and several drawers; flat screen satellite TV; and a balcony with table and chairs and great views of the mountains behind the hotel.
Reviewers have said that it is expensive: well, so it is, but what do you expect from a 5-star hotel set in 200 acres of beautifully-manicured gardens; a very big infinity pool and four large lagoon pools; four tennis courts; children's play areas; and a very large, well-maintained sandy beach? The location is stunning - in a lovely, quiet bay surrounded by stark mountains. Expensive, but not outrageously so. There are plenty of good sun-loungers, well spread out and each pair with table and parasol. Guests are provided with a complimentary cool box with two bottles of water and cold towels; the room minibar with soft drinks is complimentary; and we were greeted with a fruit bowl and gifts of stuffed dates and Omani confectionary in the room. Contrary to other comments, you do not have to pay for Internet access. If you choose to use the fast broadband in the room, you will be charged. But there is free wi-fi in the lobby and other public areas.
The breakfast buffet has a very wide choice and can be enjoyed on the terrace, or inside and costs £25 pp. The main restaurant offers a buffet with a different theme each evening: Arabic, Far Eastern, Italian etc. With service charge and sales tax adding 17%, expect to pay £50 plus pp. The food is well-prepared with plenty of variety, however, and can be enjoyed outside under the stars, fanned by ocean breezes with flaming braziers and illuminated fountains. If you prefer to go a la carte, you will have to ask for the menu. A main course costs about one-third of the buffet, the food is good and the portions generous. There is also a Chinese restaurant and the Beach Pavilion, where we enjoyed dinner on the beach. We chose the fixed price, four course menu with a bottle of Australian Sauvignon Blanc. Cost? Two camels!
Lunch can be served at your lounger, but the choice is limited.
The staff everywhere were excellent, attentive and courteous.
In summary, if the hotel was very good in 1999, it is even better now! My only complaint is that the hotel's policy regarding Internet access is not made clear in their Directory of Services. In any case, a hotel of this standard should not charge for Internet use whether in the room or elsewhere.

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Mokey4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 February 2012

Enjoyed a 5 night visit over the New Year. Booked a lagoon room facing the garden and ocean. Check in friendly and efficient. Room well appointed with a good size patio going onto a swimming pool. Breakfast excellent food service could be improved. Room service outstanding. Sea food restaurant on beach a real disappointment. Poor service together with a lack of choice on the menu. Standard of fish disappointing when compared to the excellent sea food buffet in the main hotel restaurant. Chinese restaurant better but hardly outstanding. Considering this is a Ritz Carlton establishment there is work to be done especially in the restaurants on service and selection of choice. However the team in the garden cant do enough for the guests. Excellent. Location superb for relaxation.

Room Tip: Lagoon rooms first floor
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  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled with family
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1  Thank StanDee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 February 2012

Oman is quite simply one of God's oil paintings. Rock desert shimmering in feint pink and greens. The drive from the airport through the perfect streets on perfect roads culminates at the 'ship' roundabout where looms the magnificent hotel. Set in it's own bay the hotel offers rooms and suites which are gorgeous. The top floor is inexcessible as they are often used for State visits. But all else is quiet and beautiful calm. Overlooking either the mountains or the hotels private beach and the glorious arabian gulf. Food is excellent, service wonderful with the ever present Omani grace and hospitality. Muscat is full of interest. The old Souk, parks, diving, desert trips...too much to write a short review on. 3 days seems like forever. A short distance from Dubai do it's easy to do over a weekend. Romantic, graceful perfection.

  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled on business
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1  Thank Cheryl G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 January 2012

A sprawling sumptuous palace of a hotel outstanding on all fronts. Certainly expensive, prices are not for the faint-hearted. The beach, pools, restaurants, lobby bar were excellent. Staff discreet and friendly, and often local (unlike other middle eastern destinations like Dubai where staff are generally not indiginous). The ballroom was also amazing, a breathtaking space with private entrance. Decor lavish to the point of ostentatious, as you'd expect from this region especially given the fact this is still a functioning Royal palace. Stayed in a ground floor pool-side room with private sun deck. However you would never lounge in the sun here, instead choosing the beach-side shaded areas in front which are staffed and serviced all day. Free snorkel kit hire, plenty to see in the adjacent corals and rocks. Out of town location but only a short taxi drive into Muscat - or for trips including by boat. Taxi driver will drop and wait for you while you dine in town, rather amazingly at no extra cost. Some reviews here mention poor service, we did not experience this at all during our 14-night stay. Even the minor service-related requests we did make were dealt with in an efficient, immediate and apologetic manner (to our slight embarassment).

Room Tip: Choose Sea facing, pool level if you can. These rooms also have unlimited minibar (soft) replenishe...
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  • Stayed: June 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank thughes59
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 January 2012

I stayed at the Al Bustan Palace Hotel in late December for two nights. Being under Ritz Carlton management, one would except a truly five star hotel. Forget it. While the swimming pool, lobby, and restaurants are five stars, the rooms are not. The rooms are small, reasonably well appointed, but four stars only. There is no way any one paying the Omani Rial equivalent of $500.00 to $700.00 for a standard/deluxe room will be pleased with the value of this hotel, especially given the arrogance of the management team.

Despite a request for a specific type of room by long distance telephone and a promise that my request would be honored, we arrived with a room that was not what we had been promised by the Acting General Manager himself. While the acting General Manager said he would re-arrange the existing room, I was too tired to leave the room after a long flight from Paris. Any manager with proper experience and training would have apologized and upgraded us to a nicer room. But, no apologies from management, no reasonable effort to make things right - nothing! And, the hotel was only 60% to 70% occupied.

Very importantly, this is not a particularly welcoming hotel and not a hotel I am inclined to stay at when I return to Muscat several times this year. With the exception of the restaurant staff, the people working here just go about their routines and are not particularly friendly. In summary, this hotel woud best be entitled "Under the management of Marriott" Marriott owns the Ritz Carlton name. At least with a Marriott, one's expectation of service would be tempered by the uneveness of Marriott Hotels and management around the world.

Expect a response and maybe even an apology to my review from a representative of Al Bustan Palace. Any response will simply be a requirement of Ritz Carlton's corporate management and will be meaningless. Zero effort was made to make our stay as promised. The management of this property rates two stars at best and will not change until new management and training is in place. The basic hotel management concepts of repeat business or loyalty simply does not exist at the Al Bustan "Palace". I can only surmise that the General Manager's prior assignment was at one of Marriott's Fairfield Inn properties.

We also stayed at the Incontinental Hotel in Muscat. Although the Intercontinental is in need of rennovation and the rooms rate three stars, the management team and staff at the Intercontinental are far more friendly and welcoming. And, at over half the price of the Ritz Carlton Al Bustan Palace, there is no reason to stay at the Ritz Carlton unless you value its superior beach and do not care about a friendly and responsive staff. Ironically, the Al Bustan Palace was, until recently, under the management of Intercontinental. The owners of the Al Bustan Palace made a mistake in retaining Marriott/Ritz Carlton to manage its property.

If you want to spend $600.00 to $1,000.00 per night and have value for your money, stay at the Shangri La. If you wish to have a great value for $300.00 per night, stay at the Intercontinental which has the best location in Muscat and a really friendly management team and staff.

Room Tip: There are no standard or deluxe rooms that are of the five star standard one would expect from Ritz...
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  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled on business
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12  Thank Peter L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 January 2012

Great Location and super Beach property, service is lacking. the room is very good or very bad. the ground level rooms pool facing are super. all other rooms very very ordinary. god help if you are stuck with the umpteen parking and mountain facing rooms. The pools are large and beach is super clean. their beach restaurant is nice and if they do a bonfire at night for a large group, u will love it! dont expect too much pampering at the beach service, but book in advance for the always sold out chinese restaurant which is the best! Muscat hotels are a consortium so very expensive artifically!

  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled with friends
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2  Thank skhemka
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel

Address: PO Box 1998, Muscat 114, Oman (Formerly Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel)
Phone Number:
Region: Oman > Muscat Governorate > Muscat
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Family Hotel in Muscat
#1 Business Hotel in Muscat
#2 Romantic Hotel in Muscat
#2 On the Beach Hotel in Muscat
#5 Luxury Hotel in Muscat
Price Range: £255 - £532 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel 5*
Number of rooms: 250
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Set against a dramatic backdrop of rugged mountains, Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel, lies solitary amid an emerald green oasis with 200 acres of lush beachfront landscaping. We are a top choice among hotels in Muscat, Oman, offering accommodations and public spaces that overlook the glittering azure waters of the Gulf of Oman. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Intercontinental Hotel Muttrah

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