With nearly 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Gerald Chevasson, General Manager of W Muscat is known for his unconventional approach to leadership, positive energy, and attention to detail. His firm belief in the power of teamwork and commitment to continuous improvement have earned him a reputation as an exceptional leader in the Marriott portfolio. Gerald has traveled the world, immersing himself in different cultures and broadening his horizons. With his French flair and savoir faire, Gerald has brought a unique touch to every aspect of hotel operations he has handled. Since joining W Muscat five years ago, he has brought the brand to life while immersing himself in the local culture and exploring the winding wadis and twisting corridors of W Muscat. In this interview, we learn about Gerald’s journey career highlights, leadership philosophy, the hospital industry and W Muscat’s love for Oman and its rich culture.
Can you tell us about a particular moment in your career that stands out to you as a “wow moment”? How did this experience shape your approach to hospitality and leadership, and how have you brought that experience to W Muscat?
Reflecting on my career, I can confidently say that one of the most remarkable moments was when I had the privilege of opening first-ever Buddha Bar in Dubai, followed by the debut of W Muscat, the first W hotel in Oman. Witnessing the birth of these renowned brands in such energetic and heterogeneous cities was an indescribable experience and certainly “wow moments.” This experience taught me the importance of bringing brands to life and creating immersive experiences for guests. At W Muscat, we strive to do the same, by infusing the rich narrative of Oman into every aspect of the hotel operation. From the décor to the food and music, we aim to create a truly unique and unforgettable experience for our guests.
How did you manage to lead W Muscat hotel to success and distinction?
I believe that every great hotel is built on teamwork and positive energy, and that’s what I strive to embody every day. I like letting my talents (staff) be themselves and keep their personality. I am a big believer in attention to detail, and I make sure to regularly inspect all aspects of our operation, from produce deliveries to cleaning, to ensure that everything is running smoothly. I also love to bring brands to life, and I spend a lot of my free time immersing myself in local culture and exploring new areas. This allows me to better understand our guests and provide them with a truly immersive experience. But perhaps most importantly, I lead by example. I am always willing to roll up my sleeves and get involved in any task, no matter how big or small. I take the time to get to know every one of my team members on a personal level, which helps to foster a positive and supportive work environment. The combination of my expertise in the culinary field and my passion for food has played a role in creating some distinctive features for W Muscat. Overall, I think it’s my passion for hospitality, attention to detail, and dedication to teamwork and positive energy that have helped me lead W Muscat to distinction.
How does the design narrative of Hotel W Muscat incorporate Omani elements?
W Muscat infuses Omani elements into its design narrative by drawing inspiration from the rich history, physical beauty, and social context of Muscat. Omani storytelling is a significant influence on the hotel’s design and the designs draw inspiration from the Omani folktales, which tell tales of adventure, mystery, and bravery, and are often used as moral guidance for younger generations. W Muscat reflects the balance between architectural aesthetics and cultural understanding and incorporates Omani patterns and structures that symbolize true hospitality.
Oman-inspired feature incorporated into its design narrative are plenty. At the entrance, the W sign draws inspiration from local mashrabiya patterns. The paved walkway emulates the crossroads of Muscat, showcasing an eclectic mix of Omani stone from the Wadi that reflects the physical context of the city. A sculpture of a Frankincense Tree, standing at 10 meters tall and weighing 9 tons, takes centre stage as guests arrive, symbolizing Oman’s welcoming hospitality and the prosperity brought by frankincense trade. In the Living Room, a cascading golden chandelier represents the rugged landscape of the Al Hajar mountains, while textured walls and contrasting shapes symbolize the roads less travelled, and crossroads fared by Bedouin tribes. Animal-inspired art is also featured throughout the property, including a representation of the camel on the staircase, and a seating area arranged as an ‘Arabic majlis’, featuring animal print pillows and lamps symbolizing the Omani ‘kumma’ hats. Finally, the Living Room’s narrative is weaved with collectibles showcasing unexpected animal possessions, art pieces, and cultural elements with a W flavour.
In what ways does W Muscat play a part in bolstering the burgeoning tourism industry of Oman?
W Muscat has played a significant role in bolstering the burgeoning tourism industry of Oman by offering a luxurious and contemporary experience that showcases the country’s rich heritage and natural beauty. The hotel’s location in the upbeat Shatti Al Qurum beachfront, in the heart of Oman’s capital is ideal for visitors to explore the incredible city. The hotel’s 279 guest rooms and suites, designed to blend Omani heritage with contemporary design, offer breath-taking panoramic views of the azure waters of the Sea of Oman. The five alluring restaurants offer a variety of dining options for food lovers, and the hotel’s amenities, such as the 24-hour fitness centre, swimming pool, luxury spa, and meeting space, cater to guests’ every need.
At W Muscat, two distinct worlds come together in perfect harmony – the edgy style of modern-day living and the rich heritage of Omani hospitality and culture. Our mission is to curate unique and unforgettable experiences that ignite our guests’ thirst for life. We infuse energy and vitality into the local Omani culture through a range of programming, events, and brand initiatives that celebrate our passion points of sound, taste, body, passion, and stance. These elements are integrated into every aspect of our hotel, from the captivating design that draws inspiration from the local narrative to the tranquil spa retreat, versatile event spaces, and boundary-pushing food and beverage offerings that challenge the norm. Interestingly, we offer direct access to Oman’s exclusive Royal Opera House Muscat (via the interlinked pedestrian bridge) where guests can experience exclusive fashion shows, epic music concerts, and unforgettable culture events.
W Muscat’s Whatever/Whenever attitude is a personalised way of ensuring that guests have an unforgettable experience. This attitude, combined with the hotel’s unique design and location, has helped attract more visitors to Oman and boosted the country’s tourism industry. By offering a luxurious and unique experience, W Muscat has helped put Oman on the map as a must-visit destination for tourists looking for something different.
How do you view the future of the hotel industry in Oman and Middle East?
The hotel industry in Oman is expected to experience significant growth in the coming years. The Omani government’s efforts in improving the tourism landscape have played a significant role in the surge of Oman’s hospitality industry. The impact of these efforts is expected to be long term, and the country’s hospitality industry is projected to achieve a compound annual growth rate.
The high characteristics of properties such as W Muscat, and other upcoming projects, are likely to increase international tourist arrivals in Oman. This growth is estimated to continue in the coming years, and the overall outlook for the future looks promising for the country The growing interest of the international market to discover Oman is also contributing to this trend.
Additionally, the region is making sure that it has enough capacity to accommodate the growing number of tourists. This is evident from the sheer number of hotel openings in the area, indicating that the Middle East is well-prepared to cater to the needs of its visitors. Generally, the future of the hotel industry in Oman and the Middle East looks bright, with the region poised for significant growth in the coming years.
What is your vision for the future of W Muscat?
W Muscat will continue to provide an exceptional and consummate experience for our guests. We intend to shape a sustainable tourism asset and offer generous lifestyle amenities that will attract both business and leisure travellers. We will endeavour to maintain our commitment to sustainability, implementing eco-friendly practices in all aspects of our operations. Our aim is to establish W Muscat as a destination of choice for travellers seeking a dynamic and immersive experience.
Our focus will also be on enhancing the guest experience through exceptional service, personalised attention, and innovations. We will continue to invest in the development of our staff, providing training and career growth opportunities for our Omani colleagues. The future of W Muscat is bright, and we are committed to positioning the hotel as a leading lifestyle destination in Oman and region, offering distinctive experiences and amenities that will charm and inspire our guests.