Move over Dubai, Oman is fast emerging as the hot, exotic destination of choice for well-heeled travelers wanting a unique five star getaway. Travel to Oman is on the rise with more than one million visitors in 2006 with approximately 40% of inbound tourism from Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy. While savvy European travelers have been gravitating to Oman, only recently are US travelers being enticed to experience this remarkable, peaceful country with English spoken everywhere and a stunning 1,000-mile coastline and extraordinary desert adventures most people only see in National Geographic.
Many people probably would struggle to pinpoint on a map exactly where Oman is, that alone making it a strong candidate for trophy destination status. Situated on the Arabian Peninsula, Oman is bordered by Saudi Arabia and close neighbors of the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, yet a million smiles from conflicted Middle Eastern regions. The capital is cosmopolitan Muscat, boasting five star, top tier hotels, gourmet fusion cuisine and convenient air service from major gateways around the world. From New York, the journey takes about 14 hours, which is comparable to a flight to Europe from Los Angeles. Best time to visit is October through April when Muscat enjoys average temperatures of 30C/86F, dropping to around 18C/64F at night.
What’s it got? A lot. Oman is exceptionally diverse offering breathtaking mountain ranges, majestic desert sands, lush, emerald wadis (riverbeds) and gorgeous, stunning coastline playgrounds fronting the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman. Plus the shopping is something to write home about. So, how do you organize a trip to Oman for a client that wants to put a new notch on their travel belt? Going straight to an established local source is always recommended for travel experiences that will get your clients off the beaten path and onto the road less traveled.
Inbound tour operator Rawabi Desert Adventures ( www.rawabi-adventures.com ) are the leading provider of customized, luxury desert safaris, creating the same type of swank camping perfected in Africa, but without the posh price tag, and with inimitable Bedouin desert style. Travel agents and outbound tour operators take note: peak season a deluxe 7 day Rawabi Desert Adventure starts at USD$1799 (commissionable at 20%). Here’s what is included: Intercontinental hotel, 4X4 Land cruiser touring, guides, many meals, plush Bedouin tent camping, camel rides, dune buggies, mosques, castles, coastline exploration aboard a private vessel for dolphin watching, diving or snorkeling, Green Back Turtle sightings and more culture than you can shake a stick at, all adding up to an authentic Arabian experience never to be forgotten. Luxury add-ons are available including a hot air balloon sortie for your clients who want to enjoy the desert from aloft at sunset while sipping chilled champagne. Ask and it will be provided and if it doesn’t exist, Rawabi Desert Adventures will create it.
“Rawabi luxury tented camps are our flagship product and really define who we are as a luxury travel provider. Our guests are cosseted and cared for in the most idyllic Arabian setting under a heavy blanket of stars in these fantastic, beautiful camps. We take care of every single detail, with nothing overlooked” notes Will Plummer, Managing Director of Rawabi Desert Adventures.
While Dubai is the glamour neighbor, raking in untold millions in tourism revenue, relaxed, laid back Oman is only just emerging to capture the elite market segmentation who want to experience the next big destination before everyone else does. Good luck finding a slew of guidebooks at the bookstore. But that’s just the point of a trophy destination; the road is not well traveled. You can have an authentic Arabian desert adventure without tour buses crammed full of camera toting tourists pulling up alongside you.
Details: Getting there: most major airlines provide service to Muscat, connecting through Heathrow. For visa information see http://www.destinationoman.com/
Staying +Touring there: for information, prices and customized itineraries for an exotic Oman odyssey, visit http://www.rawabi-adventures.com/
Seven (7) day land only luxury adventures start at $1799 per person with pretty much everything included. Tailored, online, real-time itinerary planning tools are available.