By: Maryam Khan

MUSCAT: Soneva Group, one of the world’s leading sustainable luxury resort operators formed following the divestment of the Six Senses and Evason brands, is planning a property in Oman by 2018. Sonu Shivdasani, chairman and CEO of the Soneva Group said this during an interview with Muscat Daily.

Shivdasani, who was in Muscat on an invitation from Gulf and Global, was looking for Omani investors for his properties in Maldives. “We will be launching a unique [hospitality] concept in the Maldives by end of 2017,” he said adding that a similar one will be rolled out in Oman by 2018. “Oman is an exceptionally beautiful place and it has got a major potential for becoming a tourist hub.

This country is all about experience and this is what can take it a long way as far as tourists are concerned. We should create an experience for the travellers who pay for their holidays,” he said. Called a pioneer in the sustainable eco-hospitality industry, Shivdasani said that Oman should make Salalah more accessible to sophisticated tourists to make an entry in the international market.

“Salalah is remote and a perfect place where luxury can be experienced in the heart of the Middle East. The country’s gleaming beaches, marine life, people and culture is the USP for it to sell it to any tourist,” he added. Shivdasani said that Oman needs to take a different perspective towards tourism and should concentrate on preserving the beauty of natural life, ecosystem, promoting culture and focus on tourists with more spending power.

“Luxury tourism adds value to the economy and it is way better than mass tourism. I think Oman should not compete with Dubai’s mass tourism as it will be a waste of effort.” He also emphasised that hotels and resorts should marry luxury with sustainability to provide tourists with a rare experience.

“People think these are two opposite things, but you need to provide a rare experience in order to demand a premium and also make sure it is sustainable in the long run. We have had affluent guests telling us that Musandam was a better place to dive than the Maldives.”

Shivdasani, who owns the Soneva Fushi in the Maldives and Soneva Kiri in Thailand, is the creator of some of the finest super luxury resorts. He had also designed the Ziggy Bay holiday resort in Musandam and is the original creator of Six Senses luxury resorts and a number of dedicated spas across the world.

SOURCE: Muscat Daily