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“Will we go next year?”

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Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel
Ranked #5 of 60 Hotels in Muscat
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 23 March 2014

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.

Room Tip: Go for a sea view on an upper floor.
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  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank galingale
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 22 March 2014

My company booked me into the Al Bustan Palace for the nights of the 18th and 19th March, because all of the business hotels closer to Muscat were completely full. The longer taxi journey from the airport was a chore, but the memory melted away as soon as I arrived at this extraordinary hotel. The concrete external structure of the building is self-importantly grand and of gargantuan proportions. However your eye is seduced by the superb location, in a private bay rimmed with Palm trees and perfect set-designer mountains! Inside I entered a breathtakingly huge white lobby, quickly checked in and was whisked off to my lovely room on the sixth floor with a balcony overlooking the gardens and beach. A comprehensive buffet breakfast is served in the restaurant on the ground floor from 7.00am, but I was not seated or shown around, resulting in a lot of puzzled wandering around until I found the items I wanted. On both mornings I had to wait a long time to be offered tea or coffee. The laid back service really reflects the nature of the hotel, which caters for discerning leisure travellers seeking, luxury and tranquility rather than stressed and suited businessmen racing to get to their first meeting of the day in central Muscat. All in all, I loved my two night stay. As I wistfully packed away my unworn swimming trunks on the morning of the 20th I vowed to return one day, with my family and
a lot more time on my hands to enjoy the leisurely pleasures of this wonderful hotel.

Stayed: March 2014, travelled on business
1  Thank BusinessTraveller145
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 March 2014

The Al Bustan Palace is just a five and a half hour drive from Sharjah in the UAE. The hotel is set in a wonderful coastal location just a few minutes outside Muscat with the spectacular Hajar mountains as a backdrop. We received a warm Omani welcome upon arrival and after a smooth check-in were soon settled into our 'lagoon room'. The room was very well furnished and had a deck area boasting direct pool access and two sun loungers. The minibar was stocked with complimentary soft drinks that are replenished as often as you like. There are three main dining options, the Beach Pavillion serving mainly seafood and steaks, the China Mood (excellent Chinese cuisine and a mesmerizing tea-pouring ceremony) and the Al Kirhan restaurant where breakfast is served and different themed buffets each evening (save room for the deserts!).
The hotel provides a free daily shuttle service into Muscat Old Town and the Souk - both well worth exploring but recommendation is to book your place as seats are limited to 26 each day. The downside is that you only get about one hour to explore but taxis are relatively cheap and allow you the freedom to take your time when exploring (the shuttle option allows about one hour).
There are plenty of excursion options and it is certainly worth exploring the area including local fishing villages, wonderful beaches and rugged mountains. Alternatively, the manicured hotel gardens leading to the beach are ideal for relaxing.
This is a wonderful place to stay whether for a weekend break or longer stay, but do take time to explore the local area!

Room Tip: A 'lagoon room' on the first floor is worth requesting to enjoy direct access to the pool fr...
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  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank merlin81260
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 March 2014

Where to begin. Oman is the S. California of the MId East- laid back, easy going, not preachy and uptight and prickly about normal human behavior like so much of the rest of the Mid East. The Sultan only wants the finest things and built this hotel. The outside building doesn't look special, but walk inside and the lobby is incredible as well as the grounds. Usually I don't review lobbies because crummy hotels often have nice lobbies as a way to distract you from the awful rooms it has- but not in this case. Incredible lobby, incredible service- wonderful rooms. I'm platinum with Marriott and they upgraded us to a huge suite on high floor directly looking over the Ocean. Breakfast buffet included in our room price- one of the largest and best buffets I've ever seen. I can't say enough about the staff and grounds of the hotel. Management sent me a few emails prior to coming to welcome me that were individually written and thoughtful- really make you feel like they can't wait to meet you and have you stay at their hotel. Nice city, country and hotel. If you're taking a trip to Dubai, then get on a plane and fly to Muscat. (View from air is also pretty.) The vulgarity of Dubai will melt away into the tranquility of Muscat.

Room Tip: An octagon shape allows a good chance to have ocean view, but all rooms seem to have nice views. Th...
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  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled with friends
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Thank Psnpsn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 March 2014

This hotel is our favorite when it comes to a quick day out in the weekend. It is the one that feels out of town but offers the best of Muscat. They greet you with a frankincense smell and if you book a room on the sea side, the oceanic deep blue color along the coast in Oman will give the room a special feeling.

Room Tip: Rooms on the sea side are nice
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  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled with family
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1  Thank John
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 March 2014

We stayed at this hotel in January 2014 it was part of our 25 anniversary trip, we stayed four nights. We found the staff very attentive and helpful the hotel is very opulent with beautiful furnishings. The evening buffet option was varied with a themed selection each evening, we particularly enjoyed the Chinese restaurant food was delicious and there was a Chinese tea show during the evening. The beach and pools are great again staff attentive. Whilst there my husband had a slight accident whilst sailing the staff were again excellent and just a couple of stitches were needed, when discussed with the manager he was very helpful, it was due to my husbands error. We Would definitely stay here again, nice luxurious surroundings with excellent service. We stayed on the second flood with pool view and balcony very relaxing.

Room Tip: Pool view higher floor nice views
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  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank Sharon D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 March 2014

After a horrid wet winter and having both been ill, we just wanted a complete rest and some sunshine in luxurious surroundings - this is exactly what Al Bustan delivered. Huge quiet rooms, blissfully comfortable beds ensure good sleep. We had half board terms, which meant a very good buffet breakfast on the beautiful terrace overlooking the massive infinity pool, fringed with palm trees and looking out to sea - a lovely way to start the day. Sunbeds by the pool for the rest of the day - never more than a dozen or so people in it, perfect. If you want lunch, good salads made by the pool bar staff and brought to you. Suppers in the main restaurant themed every night [curry, local dishes, Italian, etc] a bit hit and miss but there is always something good. Staff pretty uniformly charming and kind. We did almost nothing all week and came home feeling fit and rested. If we had stayed longer, some trips to the desert, etc would have been good to do - another time.

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Janmicham
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 Business Hotel in Muscat
#1 Family Hotel in Muscat
#2 Romantic Hotel in Muscat
#2 On the Beach Hotel in Muscat
#5 Luxury Hotel in Muscat
Price Range: £267 - £606 (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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