We recently stayed at the wheelchair friendly, Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah resort in Muscat with our disabled child. This was our 3rd time back to the resort in 10 years and it was certainly our best experience to date.
As many disabled families know, it takes a lot of energy (and courage) to travel – especially when going abroad. Will the pool be accessible? Will there be ramps around the hotel? Will there be enough accessible rooms? Do we need to hire a wheelchair or should we take our own? Should we hire a portable disability hoist to take with us? These are just some of the questions that need answering before we can even consider booking somewhere.
Due to his disability, our child has a very restricted (pureed) diet. We didn’t really want to be cooking whilst on holiday, so before booking the hotel we contacted the F&B team to ask whether they could cater for our son. They were exceptionally helpful and put us in contact with all the relevant people who assured us that we were in safe hands. And when we got there, they did not disappoint. Everyday, our son was given fresh, nutritious meals just like he would have had at home; fresh fruits, lentils, chicken, fruit smoothies etc, all pureed to the perfect texture so that our child was able to eat without any issues; nothing was too much trouble for the staff.
And not only did they cater well for our son, but the food that we had at all restaurants was truly amazing. With 8 different restaurants across the resort, we were spoilt for choice. The quality of the food and service from the staff was 2nd to none.
The resort consists of 3 hotels (Al Waha, Al Bandar & Al Husn), which are all within walking distance to one another. However, when we stayed at the resort previously, there wasn’t a level pathway from the Al Waha hotel to the Al Bandar. This meant that I had to carry my son’s wheelchair up and down a couple of bridges (with stairs) to get from 1 hotel to the other. I’m pleased to say that this has all changed. There is now level access (via concrete ramps) all the way from the Al Waha to the Al Husn which made walking around the resort very easy.
We stayed at the Al Waha hotel which is the more family orientated of the 3 hotels in the resort. We booked the Speciality Suite which at 1100 sq ft was more than adequate. There was enough space in the living area for my son’s wheelchair and other mobility aids without the room feeling too cramped or messy. This room also had the benefit of a small kitchenette which meant that we could keep our child’s utensils sterilised all the time. There was a 2nd bathroom (off the living area) which we could use to bathe my son. We had called the hotel beforehand to ask whether they could provide a shower chair, and this was already placed in the bathroom when we arrived – 5* service.
The bedroom itself was a good size and included a king size bed as well the usual desk, large cupboard area and good size bathroom (shower, bath, 2 sinks etc). Prior to arrival we had asked the hotel for a rollaway bed in the bedroom and this was arranged as requested (still leaving plenty of space in the room). The house keeping team also took the initiative of putting the bed guards in place.
The Al Waha hotel has 2 pools (kids and a very large adults/family pool) as well as the Lazy River. Other than the Lazy River, the pool area is totally accessible with ramps coming from both sides of the hotel, plus an additional concrete ramp to get from the Al Waha hotel to the Al Bandar hotel and the beach area. This is a vast improvement from when we were last at the resort in 2012.
Well done Shangri La Barr Al Jissah for making these changes and becoming such a wheelchair friendly resort in Muscat and enabling the disabled traveller to be included in as many of the resort’s facilities as possible.
Read our interview with Rene D. Egle, Area General Manager for Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa & Shangri-La’s Al Husn Resort & Spa:
How long have you been the General Manager at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah?
- I have been with Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa for only 4 months as Area General Manager for Oman however, I have been with Shangri-La Group for over 16 years
What are the most important things for you as a General Manager?
- My utmost priority is the satisfaction and happiness of my colleagues and my guests.
What accessibility improvements have been made to the hotel over the last few years?
- Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa and Shangri-La l Husn Resort & Spa were designed with accessibility in mind, however over the past years, ramps have been added to some outdoor areas where access was somewhat restricted such as restaurant terraces, CHI, The Spa and the pool areas.
What is the best and worst thing about being a General Manager of a high-end resort such as the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah?
- The best thing is having the opportunity to be based in such a wonderful destination and experience the fascinating culture and heritage of the Sultanate and I can’t think of anything that takes the joy away from that.
What is the best compliment that the hotel has been given in your time there?
- The team here is very proactive and they receive daily positive reviews and compliments from our guests. Please allow me to share the latest email with you from a guest which really says it all:
Dear Mr. Egle,
You and your staff have ensured to delight us day after day during our stay… every time we are here. This is ‘hospitality from the heart’. You and your staff bring the words into action! It is walking the talk! You and your staff have truly understood what needs to be done to ensure your guests have a delightful experience… In the end, this is what it is… it is not just another ordinary stay in a hotel… it is a true experience!
My mom has said last year and she wants to repeat now: “Year after year I have seen changes: people that come and go, new outfits for the folks in the restaurants, new plates and cups in warm colours instead of the cold white, new restaurants being built… One thing however that hasn’t changed as it has been there from the very start is the warmth and friendship, I have received from all of you. It has touched me deeply and I will never ever forget this. A warm and heartfelt ’Thank you’ for this.”
You should all take pride in everything you do and we can only encourage you to keep up all the hard work! We know this doesn’t come at the snip of a finger. It is hard team work… day after day… but Shangri-La Muscat certainly knows how to delight their customers. After all… it is Shangri-La’s signature.
What is the worst complaint that a guest has had about the hotel and what has been done about this since?
- We do strive for perfection daily, however, sometimes things don’t always go according to plan. If that happens, it is important that we not only to rectify the situation but to do everything we can to recover and retain loyalty.
In your experience, are hotel chains making enough of an effort to cater for the needs of disabled travellers?
- I believe that most hotels are very conscious about the needs of the disabled traveller, and aside from structural modifications, it is equally important to pay special attention to providing training for team members to accommodate the various requirements of all our guests.
Thanks to Rene Egle for taking the time to participate in the interview with Strive Mobility.
We are hoping that you will soon be able to rent mobility aids in Oman and the UAE from Strive Mobility. Whether you need to rent a wheelchair in Dubai, hire a disability hoist in Muscat or rent a mobility scooter in Abu Dhabi, you’ll soon be able to do it at www.StriveMobility.com. To find out more, or if you want to know when this service will be live, please contact us with the following message: “Tell me more about Strive Mobility UAE”.