We are always happy to go that extra mile for our patrons
Published: 22/11/2017 12:00 pm
Darren Darwin, general manager, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, says recent award wins are simply a reflection of the great team behind the scenes that operate with consistency
How do you evaluate Anantara Jabal Akhdar's performance in the first year of its operations in Oman?
It’s been an incredibly successful year; each individual team member has worked so hard for us to achieve such a global-wide recognition during the first year of opening. As a result, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort has been voted one of the best in the Middle East and has gained great respect internationally as a result. Winning the GM of the Year Award in Hotelier Middle East Awards 2017 marks yet another great accomplishment for the resort and Oman as a destination.
Additionally, we’re the only resort in Oman to have been listed on Condé Nast Traveller’s Gold list and Travel and Leisure IT list in opening year, an achievement that takes most resorts two to three years to establish. We’ve also been listed on Condé Nast Traveller’s Hot List featured among top newly opened hotels. It is thanks to these key achievements that we’re so strongly positioned after just one year of operation.
The resort won The Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2017. What are the factors that led to this achievement?
Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort offers an experience that is unlikely to find anywhere else in the world, and we work closely with media to communicate and highlight these unique selling points. From the historical ties to Princess Diana at Diana’s Point, a restaurant that is inspired by a traditional Khasab Fort and cliff pool villas, to indigenous experiences available in the surrounding mountainside location and extra special touches, like gifting guests with local rose water bottles on departure. We make sure that every person staying with us leaves with a remarkable story to tell.
Most importantly, our team have a warm and personal approach to ensure that each and every guest feels welcomed. The team lives together on the mountain and forms very close friendships. They share their wisdom and bring local stories to life, ensuring guests receive a fully immersive experience.
Our Mountain Guru is also always on hand to accompany guests as they explore the vast mountain and builds a rapport with guests, providing them with interesting nuggets of information about life on the mountain.
Winning the GM of the year award in the Hotelier Middle East Awards 2017, speaks volumes about your leadership. What does this recognition mean to you?
I believe we have a world-class team that dedicate their time to the resort, are always happy to go that extra mile and they are a joy to work with. The award is simply a reflection of the great team behind the scenes that operate with consistency. Even though the award recognizes the GM role, I definitely could not have achieved this without the full support of my team. I’m very proud to be the first GM for Minor Hotels, and in Oman, to have won this award and the fact that it has generated exposure for both the destination and Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort is paramount to our future success. I hope this award is a continuation of many more accolades for Al Jabal Al Akhdar and the region. We have already won so many this year already.
What are the major milestones of the past year, What are you adding on to the existing offerings?
The opening phase at any resort is challenging let alone opening a hotel on a remote mountain location that overlooks a cliff. To maintain a high level of standard in these circumstances is a huge challenge, however, I’m proud to say that we have proved this is possible.
We’re always striving to be innovative and creative, to enable us to stay on top of our game. Examples of this include the recent launch of a new rock-climbing phase, The Ultimate Jabal Activity Wall as well as the opening a brand new Arabic restaurant, Al Qalaa, which features the iconic architecture of Khasab Castle in Musandam, Northern Oman. We are thrilled to have celebrated our first anniversary last month, which represents a significant milestone for our resort and the destination, however we have plenty more active plans in the pipeline so watch this space! The F&B team is always striving to offer the best quality by using local ingredients and creating new menus and our Anantara Spa now offers Bikram Yoga classes, a 90 minute session of yoga in a 40°c controlled temperature held in the private natural lit hammam.
What are the challenges in the current market?
There have been economic and political challenges across the globe, which of course affect our inbound markets, however, the Omani market has experienced an increased level of popularity over the past years, effectively turning the region into an emerging market. We’ve found that it is the unique culture, landscape and history have captured audiences from all corners of the world and we are determined to ensure this continues by offering guests the best luxury experience whilst keeping the rich local culture alive.