The narrative-led design of W Muscat

May 16, 2019

The next time you walk into a W property, take a closer look at the ceiling to understand their ‘no white walls’ mantra. There’s an element of jaw dropping design at every step, especially for those who are detail oriented.  Neons, purples, reds and oranges standout throughout the property, all perfectly complemented by the lighting. It’s no illusion; just design done right and pure grandeur.

The W hotel in Qurm near Opera House has been one of the most anticipated properties in the sultanate for over a decade.

An eerily exquisite luban tree welcomes you at the entrance while giant golden birdcages are placed in the walkway leading to a Chinese restaurant located in an annex to the main structure – two spectacular elements even before you’ve stepped inside the hotel. W Muscat has retained the brand’s iconic eccentricity embodying four basic elements - Design, Music, Fashion and Fuel.

In a privileged tour of the property, while its iconic rooftop lounge Siddharta was being built brick by brick, Gerald Chevasson, general manager, spoke about the W experience.

Later, seated in a sea-facing suite, he elaborated further on the hotel as we sat distracted by the quirky artifacts in the room – a wooden chair with an extension carved into a rhinoceros, a colourful 3D artwork of a woman peering through her niqab, a lampshade mounted atop a telescope... “Design is in the DNA of the W brand,” said Chevasson. “The designers have absorbed an Omani narrative into its architecture.”

According to him, W properties incorporate elements of the local culture, history and social traditions in every country they set up shop. “You’ll see a story in every corner of the hotel,” Chevasson said.

The 279-key hotel was designed by P49Deesign, in collaboration with Rockwell Group and LMS Dubai.

“You will also see elements of the mountain, the city and the bay, all reflecting in the designs of the ‘living room’ (W’s term for its lobbies) and elsewhere. We went through the history of Oman and borrowed some aspects and incorporated it in the interior design – there are rugs made of camel and horse skin, artifacts that resemble the dallah, mandoos, majlis etc… We tell the modern traveller the story of Oman with these because we strongly believe in the power of stories.”

Inside the hotel, there is much to see giving guests the impression that they’ve stepped into a kaleidoscope. But the best is reserved for a view from the top as you look down and behold the massive ‘wet deck’ (another W term, for the outdoor pool area).

Since 1998, when W opened its first property in New York, the group has appealed to a young, trendy and upscale clientele creating a sub-culture within luxury properties. Being a narrative-led hotel, over the years, W has developed its own tailored experience for customers far from the rigidity of most five-star properties. 

While there may be fewer of the yuppie and hipster crowd to enjoy the hotel’s vibe in the sultanate, there’s the ‘W lifestyle’ - fuelled by unconventional trends - that everyone gains to experience from. In the near future, W plans to introduce a platform for local musicians, artists and designers to become a part of its narrative. 

Adaptability is a key factor that helps W retain its status quo as industry trendsetter, Chevasson noted. “We follow the basic rules and essential factors of hospitality and set our own style as we go along.” Staff members (‘talent’ is W parlance) are handpicked to reflect the ‘W attitude’, which is high on positivity. “We don’t consider anything a difficulty; we look at it as an opportunity,” he said, adding, “This is why the W experience is something that people want to come and try out.”