This was our fourth annual 10 day break at the Al Bustan. For our first, the hotel was under Intercontinental ownership; thereafter Ritz-Carlton assumed the 25 year lease. Inevitably, new 'ownership' was going herald changes, and these we have witnessed in the past three years. To the casual observer, many comments may seem picky, but we hope to strike a balance which will constructively inform others of our experiences. First, we both still agree that Oman is a wonderful place and its people warm and friendly. Equally, the international staff at the Al Bustan have been well trained by Ritz-Carlton, have a good use of English and are professional, attentive and obliging. The hotel rooms are well equipped and functional, although refurbishment would seem due in some areas. Bathrooms are small and grotty shower curtains should be replaced. That said, the addition of Asprey toiletries is appreciated. The gardens, pools and beach are superb, and guests are well looked after by the (mainly Omani) staff there. Ritz-Carlton have improved the beach/pool/garden menu considerably and it now comes from a cooking station central in the gardens, rather than from the Beach Pavilion as it did before. Buffet breakfast on the Al Khiran terrace is a great start to the day, once one has endured the somewhat chaotic arrival procedure; some days, we saw up to a dozen guests waiting to be shown to their tables; other days, no staff were in evidence and guests were left to circumnavigate the restaurant in search of somewhere to sit! We do not like dinner buffets and it appears that Ritz-Carlton are promoting the 'themed' evening buffet in the Al Khiran restaurant. However, during our stay it seemed that the vast majority of guests were from Germany (why so few reviews from Germany, even under the German language pages?), so it may be that the hotel is merely catering for their demands. A limited a la carte menu is available, but the almost frenetic to-ing and fro-ing of buffet gatherers does not make for digestive calm. We had four excellent dinners at the China Moon, where both the food and the staff are terrific. Equally, the Beach Pavilion offers super (and expensive) food, albeit the restaurant was almost empty on the two occasions we went there. In our opinion, the Al Khiran is in dire need of a makeover, since it currently resembles a 1980s cafeteria. The brown furniture and plush seat coverings alone are verging on retro! Overall, our negative comments centre around what we think must be a Marriott corporate drive to improve the bottom line. Little things we once enjoyed have disappeared - a daily paper in your room; a weather/events schedule; towels in your coldbox; the French restaurant. More significantly, although there was once the odd event held in the grounds for outside customers, these are now quite regular and, in many cases, detract from the paying guest experience, particularly those with attaching loud computer-generated noise. Whilst one commends Ritz-Carlton on its commercial drive, the likely impact of each 'outside' event on resident guests should perhaps receive greater scrutiny. We make a comment about the price of alcoholic drinks each year and, despite an explanation about high state tax from the excellent Manager in the Bar, we are still not convinced that they have to be so high (diminishing return). Overall, we had a great stay once again at the Al Bustan. Will we go again next year? Probably, not least that we do not seek a resort hotel, we love Oman, and there there would seem to be nothing better in the region.
- 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