There is a great sense of anticipation as a new resort is set to open for business at Sohar in the Sultanate of Oman, says GIULIA FRESCA
LOCATED on the beachfront of Al-Zafaran in Sohar, a city in the coast of the Sultanate of Oman, Radisson Blu Resort, is a luxury business cum leisure resort spread across 2,500 acre. The $32 million project currently under construction is located on a low density private beach, and is set to open by early 2014. The new property will offer 179 spacious accommodations, each with a ocean view, pool and private staff. Other amenities include private spa-treatment; a beach club featuring dining and lounge areas, a big swimming pool and a tennis court. Sohar is a city in the Al-Batinah region, 240 km northwest of Oman's capital Muscat. Sohar which is the capital of the region is in close proximity to the ancient copper mines. It is also fairly close to the fort-towns of Nakhl and Rustaq. Tourists and visitors will be attracted to its large and functional souk with its handy tailors, fruit sellers, and fishermen vying for space, and its fort which stands apart with its four-story walls and six towers, an imposing sight overlooking the bay.
Guests will also enjoy access to the sand beach and coastline, and can explore Oman through customised experiences that introduce them to the nature, culture and people of this up-and-coming tourism destination, known as the "land of beautiful contrasts" - mountains, desert and wadis, all in one day! Further across the plains, a number of wadis, heavily populated in their upper courses, descend from the Al Hajr al Gharbi Mountains to the south. A ribbon of oasis, watered by wells and underground channels (falaj), extends the length of the plain, about ten kilometers inland.
The Radisson Blu Resort in Sohar owes to the vision of prominent Omani entrepreneur Abdullah Ali Al Nabri, who is also the owner of the Radisson Blu Hotel in Muscat. Through the Radisson Blu Resort, Al Nabri aims to establish his family legacy of a pristine, natural, and symbolic place where guests will enjoy luxurious pampering while connecting them and familiarising them to the land, culture and people of the Sultanate of Oman in authentic ways. Moreover the surrounding community is expected to benefit from the establishment of the resort, resultng in more jobs, schools and improved infrastructure. "We are creating a catalyst that will put our country on the world tourism map," says Al Nabri. "The Radisson Blu Resort will be a game changer for Sohar, a great city."
It is easy to understand why. Al Nabri has assembled a team of proven industry leaders to position Radisson Blu Resort amongst the most exclusive luxury boutique hotels in the world. Reflecting Al Nabri's philosophy, guests are not just hotel guests, but personal guests of the Al Nabri family.
"We are doing everything at Radisson Blu to the highest standards so that we can attract the most sophisticated travelers in the world. I want them to feel like guests in my family's home as they discover the Sultanate of Oman that I love," says Al Nabri.
The Radisson Blu Resort, conceptualised by Italian engineer, Nilo Domanico, is designed to a luxurious yet unpretentious and relaxed private estate by the ocean. With rooms designed in a style that combines modern elegance with traditional Omani roots, the resort was intended to create a distinct sense of place. Though the interior joinery and fit-out is Italian, the work on craft furnishings and decorations reflect the traditions of the country.
Featuring 162 spacious guest rooms and 16 suites ranging from 40 to 160 square metres of the Royal Suite with its unique location on the sixth floor and over looking Bahr Oman, and its inclusion of all modern conveniences, the Radisson Blu Resort is centrally located within easy reach of the city's various cultural, historical and commercial points of interests, and is just ten kilometres from Sohar International Airport on construction.
Sohar has gained significance as Oman's fastest developing industrial zone and an airport would avoid the 2 hour long drive from either Muscat or Dubai. This airport will be built with international standards and a terminal capacity to handle 500,000 passengers annually. In addition to its high-quality accommodation, the Radisson Blu Resort features a 505-square-metre Night Club - Shisha bar-style ballroom catering for upto 800 people in banqueting form.
The hotel has various dining options ranging from a Thai restaurant, a 24 hour dining restaurant, the main bar and the lobby cafe. Guests can also opt to dine in the comfort of their room by taking advantage of 24-hour room service. The Radisson Blu Resort offers extensive leisure facilities, including a Spa with treatment rooms, a 800-square-metre swimming pool, a Turkish bath, steams, saunas and a whirlpool.
"Luxury is characterised by two criteria: excellence and exclusiveness, " says Domanico. He further explains: "Excellence means the highest quality obtainable in a certain context and state of the art. Exclusivity means that luxury is synonymous with rarity, which can be translated into authenticity and genuineness of places and products, atmosphere and people, characteristics that have the power to excite. "The drive towards personalisation and emotion intersects with a culture of luxury. It is no longer tied to opulence and pomp, but at a casual and impeccable service, " he says.
Luxury hospitality on offer has therefore become highly diversified in recent times and everything suggests that it will be even more so in the future. Moreover, the resort aims to follow a 'Green' culture, which favors a greater overall sensitivity to these issues. "The planning concept for the resort was driven by a number of factors namely, maximising the usage on the land available; utilising the great views from the site, creating an iconic structure that is modern yet retains elements from the Omani architecture to harmonously blend the traditional and modern, incorporation of elements that enhances the environmental responsibility that may be represented through the use of intelligent facades, shaded glazing and provision of natural light by maximising glazed areas; orientation and shading which are vital in the design of the building. In relation to this, the building angle was adjusted during the concept design to get maximum views of the beach for all the suites, " reveals Domanico.
Intrestingly, the rebuilding was oriented along the east west direction resulting in the longer sides of the building facing towards the north south direction. The heat gain along these directions will be lesser. hence allowing more openings on the facades of the building. The building is deliberately planned to maximise exposure on the north face of the building and to the views towards the beach front. A business centre will be located on the first floor with state of the art meeting rooms and conference facilities. The resort's public areas will cater for a range of facilities on the ground and first floors including a large lobby overlooking the sea from the drop off point, retail areas, gym, spa, swimming pool and other amenities such as parking, landscaped areas, speciality kitchen, laundry, toilets, storage, etc.
The Radisson Blu Resort consists of a single six storey building surrounded by a car park and landscaped grounds. It also hosts a fully suspended, cast in-situ, reinforced concrete ground floor slab throughout the resort. The slab is supported by a grid of pile caps and ground beams.
The structure of the building is bolstered by reinforced concrete columns and beams supporting precast concrete 'hollow core' floor planks. All of the upper floor levels incorporate a 75mm thick reinforced structural screed bonded directly to the precast floor planks. The screed adequately ties the individual floor planks together and hence promotes diaphragm action through the floor, allowing the lateral loads to be transferred into the supporting beams, columns/shear walls and ultimately the oundations. The columns will be located in a position which will minimise restrictions and maximise the usable floor area. Stability under lateral loading (wind and seismic) will be achieved by using strategically located shear walls and stiff frames.
The design of the structure strongly emphasises the philosophy of the Omani entrepreneur.
Al Nabri has found the right answers through his tie up with a brand as prestigious as the CarlsonRezidor Hotels Group The enthusiasm of Marc Descrozaille, Regional Director UAE, Egypt, Jordan, at CarlsonRezidor Hotels Group, in the course of the inspection of six months preceding the opening of the resort, is a clear demonstration of how design choices, materials and the entire concept reflect the requirements of functionality, elegance, and luxury services in the name of living in total relaxation for every occasion. This is an endeavour that comes from the hard work of more than 300 workers who are not only Omanis but also Indians, Pakistanis, Jordanians, Palestinians, Italians and Spanish. When the resort opens it would have broken down all boundaries and will aim to be the beating heart of the Sultanate of Oman.