Mysk by Shaza Al Mouj general manager Shafik Alaaeddine. Mysk by Shaza Al Mouj general manager Shafik Alaaeddine.

Shafik Alaaeddine faces a tremendous task. In joining Mysk by Shaza Al Mouj, Muscat as the pre-opening general manager, he not only has on his hands the challenge of opening a new hotel in Oman, but also, in introducing the flagship hotel of Mysk by Shaza to the world, he shoulders the additional responsibility of a brand launch.

This poses a gargantuan challenge for any hotelier, even an experienced one. The ex-Starwood veteran, however, who has already handled the Shaza Al Madina pre-opening for Mysk’s parent brand, Shaza Hotels, with its flagship property in Madina Munawwarah, seems to take everything that comes his way in his stride (and — given his present frantic work schedule — at a sprint !).

Despite being one of the few destinations in the Middle East actually experiencing a steady uptick in hospitality industry KPIs, with occupancies, ADRs, and RevPARS on an upswing, Muscat may still seem something of a curious choice for a destination in which to debut a hotel brand. Alaaeddine, however, thinks the decision by Shaza Hotels makes sense because, as with most business decisions in this part of the world, everything hinges on the quality of relationships. “Shaza Hotels believes it is important to not only build strong relations with our guests, but also with our owners.  An owner must have great trust in a hotel operator to give them their assets to manage,” he says.

“Shaza Hotels has built this trust with [Oman-based investment company] Taameer over the last two years, during the development of the Shaza Salalah project, due to open in 2018. Therefore, Taameer has reiterated its confidence in Shaza to launch and manage the new Mysk by Shaza, as part of the Al Mouj development.”

Parts of Muscat, Oman’s historic port capital, have been on a tourism mega-infrastructure development drive of late, while stubbornly clinging to the charm of the city's traditional heritage. The waterfront community of Al Mouj, formerly known as The Wave, its English translation from the Arabic, is the sultanate’s new, up-and-coming leisure and lifestyle destination, a public-private venture between the Oman government and UAE-based entity, Majid Al Futtaim Properties. Spread along a 6km stretch of Muscat’s coastline, the integrated development comprises a group of luxury residential properties including villas, townhouses, and apartments, commercial units, retail, and dining facilities, as well as Oman’s first Greg Norman-designed, PGA-standard, 18-hole  golf course. Al Mouj is also home to the 400-berth Al Mouj Marina, Oman’s largest private yachting hub, and The Walk, a 50-unit retail area that forms the commercial and leisure hub of the community.

In the heart of this expansive development, the 195-key, four-star Mysk by Shaza Al Mouj is swiftly taking shape on a prime marina waterfront site.

Alaaeddine confirms that the hotel’s opening, scheduled for the latter half of 2017, is on track.

“We are on target to open by Q3 2017,” he says. “Construction is in its last stages, as well as FF&E (furniture, fixtures, and equipment) and OS&E (operating supplies and equipment). All our team members are hired: 25% are already on board, and all the rest will join before the end of July.”

As the hotel also marks the debut of the Mysk by Shaza brand, Alaaeddine takes pains to point out its brand differentiators from Shaza Hotels.

“Mysk shares with Shaza the same vision and values, but with a different personality,” he explains.

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