Zighy Bay is set apart from competition in Oman and the UAE by its remote Musandam location. Zighy Bay is set apart from competition in Oman and the UAE by its remote Musandam location.

The management duo of John Philipson and Godfrey Vas at Six Senses Zighy Bay tell Louise Oakley their plans to increase occupancy and length of stay at the resort through several refreshments to the F&B offering and new leisure developments

Since launching in 2008, Hotelier favourite Six Senses Zighy Bay has been set apart from competition in Oman and the neighbouring UAE by both its remote Musandam location and its barefoot luxury Six Senses appeal.

However, like all hotels, the first three to four years in operation can be a testing time, resulting in tweaks, additions and improvements as business stabilises and management sets about plotting future growth.

This is perhaps even more pressing at a resort like Zighy Bay, where its idyllic, private location has its pros and cons; yes, guests will stay on property as there is simply nowhere else to go to dine or spa, but for repeat visitors, is there enough to keep them interested and entertained on their second, third or fourth trip to the hotel?

And for a property largely reliant on GCC weekend custom during the long, hot summers, what can it do to increase these short stays and keep guests around for longer?

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At Zighy Bay, Six Senses managing director — Oman John Philipson has joined forces with general manager Godfrey Vas, responsible for day to day operation and all-important guest contact, to drive new ideas, events and marketing projects.

“The main purpose [of the new projects] from a very selfish point of view is to lengthen the guest stay; at the moment we’re getting three or four days from the local GCC market and up to seven from the European / American market,” says Philipson.

These changes are most evident in the food and beverage offering, which is being refreshed to offer guests more choice.

A new restaurant, Summer House, has replaced the Chill Bar as a “global bistro brasserie”; Dining on the Sand has been renamed Spice Market, which will have an extended Arabic kitchen; and fine dining restaurant Sense on the Edge — located on a plateau in the mountains surrounding the resort — will feature new design elements and an à la carte menu in the future.

Philipson explains: “The demand for outdoor seating [at Sense on the Edge] has become so great we want to try and make more of it available for people to enjoy the view. Sense on the Edge will be softened; we’re going to try and feature-light the mountain around the restaurant, at the moment when the sun sets you have the view of Zighy Bay but the rock features are actually quite stunning as well.

“The bar is actually carved into the mountain itself, we want to feature that and the mountain around it. We’ll change the furniture outside to be a little daintier and also have a seating area just for drinks”.

Keeping its authentic focus, Zighy Bay has also introduced the Shua Shack on its beach, where lamb is cooked traditional Omani style in a pit oven in the sand and guests sit family-style on low seating, and it will offer more Arabic cooking classes and an enlarged chef’s table at Spice Market too.

“Along with the Spice Market, Sense on the Edge, Summer House, Shua Shack, you’ve also got beach bbqs, international buffet nights, in-villa bbqs, destination dining,” says Philipson. “Someone could stay for nine nights and not have the same dinner experience repeated.”

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