Team Y takes a sneak peek inside the W Muscat’s first five-star foray into the Sultanate. Our tour guide? Diego Padula – DJ by night, Director of B&F and the hotel’s Executive Assistant Manager by day!
If the name ‘W’ hasn’t been on your radar until now, let us give you a crash course! What began 21 years ago with the hotel that started it all, the W New York – a boutique flagship property designed by architectural icon David Rockwell in the heart of mid-town Manhattan, soon became hospitality’s fastest-growing global name. With its funky ‘Whatever/Whenever’ mantra, (as long as it’s legal!), and cutting-edge décor and design, it’s a brand that shook up our notion of what a hotelier should be, blending boutique character with a level of service reserved for the long-standing icons of the industry.
With 279 rooms and suites, stunning beachfront views, and some truly inspired B&F offerings (seven total, in fact!) there’s lots to look forward to at this city-hotel that aims to bring the essence of Omani cultural and heritage to the capital in signature W style.
We sat down with the hotel’s Executive Assistant Manager and Director of B&F Diego Padula for a behind-the-scenes glimpse and sneak peek of what to look forward to!
Y: So, you’ve got a pretty cool job title! Tell us how it came to be yours – we hear you’re a DJ too!
DP: I’ve been with Marriott for 15 years now! I’m actually from Uruguay where I worked for a long time with Sheraton and then nine different properties since – all the way from Spain, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, and now here in Muscat. I spent four and a half years at the W Mexico City – which was a fantastic property and also the first W to open outside of the US. I led their ten-year renovation project and, after that had the luck to open the W Punta De Mita in Mexico, one of the brand’s signature Escape hotels, before moving on to the pre-opening task force team of the W Panama – which was a fantastic opportunity as Panama is a party in itself, and W even more!
And yes, DJ-ing is something I’ve always loved! [Laughs] My style is tropical house music – and I’m also a huge Michael Jackson fan. Being behind the decks is one passion I have and something I love about W is that they’ve always encouraged me to do it. In fact, they’ve pushed me to pursue it! They let you showcase your talent and now I’ve found a way to link my work with my passion.
Y: W is known as one of the funkiest names in hospitality. What makes its new Muscat property unique?
DP: Everything we do is driven by our W Passion Points – Music, Fashion, Design, and Fuel. Everything from our B&F offerings to our programming activations are all tailored around them – and our talents are trained to deliver our services in line with these passions. ‘Fuel’ is the energy to look good, feel good, go longer, stay later. It’s W’s perspective on exercise, living well, and healthy eating. Our tagline ‘Detox. Retox. Repeat’ was crafted with this in mind – you wake up, have your breakfast, you’re feeling good, you to go work, you come home, you have your fuel, you party, and you sleep. We want to feed and fuel you so you can come party more!
Y: Muscat’s full of foodies eager for the next big thing. How do you plan to keep them coming back for seconds?
DP: Here at W we’re not ‘F&B’ – we’re ‘B&F’, Beverage and Food. For us, the beverage culture is very important and we’re driving our B&F concepts around this. W is the only brand to have someone called a ‘Beverage Manager’ who keeps an eye on the trends in order to present a fantastic beverage culture in all our venues. Here in Oman we especially want to explore this using local products and ingredients.
W Muscat has seven different venues that make the property a culinary destination in and of itself. For example, if you want to eat out but aren’t sure what you’re feeling up for, you can head here to the W and take your pick. Harvest, our all-day dining restaurant will have a focus on healthy Fuel – think acai bowls, organic offerings etc. While Ba Ban is all about the best of modern Shanghai flavours (Opening later this year) – then, you have CHAR, our signature grill restaurant; WET Deck and WET which are our poolside B&F offerings; the Living Room lounge; and finally, Siddharta Lounge by Buddha-Bar which is all about Mediterranean fusion paired with an excellent beverage culture, to open at a later stage this year.
Again, our W Happenings and Activations are very important – as they’re where we put our passion points into play. For example, Siddharta Lounge will be a fantastic point to activate our Music passion and we’re going to have a lot of stellar events coming up there – with our signature W twist. For example, we know we’re going to have a connection with Ibiza Global Radio who have some very good DJs. Actually, we have a lot of things coming up that I wish I could tell you about, but I can’t! [Laughs].
We want to present things in a different way here. We’re currently finalizing one fantastic brunch and can’t wait to show it off. We want to be a hotel that’s open for the city – we don’t like the word ‘exclusivity’. We’re not exclusive – and we’re reflecting this in our strategy around pricing and how present our offerings. We want to be part of the Omani culture and its people, and we want the hotel to be a place to come to not just for a special occasion – but rather any time you want.
Y: Speaking of Omani culture, there are quite a few surprises throughout the hotel’s décor that tie in with it we’ve heard…
DP: You can see so much that’s related to Omani culture, inspired by the global nomad and wanderer. With a larger than life stainless steel frankincense tree on arrival signaling hospitality and welcoming guests to the property, to the slanted ceilings in rooms representing a desert tent, there are countless moments that can take you by surprise. From ancient trinkets and exotic finds, you can discover sheep tables (yes, you heard me) cat lamps, faux-fur detailing, and travel trunks that serve as your edge wardrobe. With nods to the Omani kumma, the desert, the sea, the stars, and the magnificent Al Hajar mountains, you can really explore Oman in W style through the design.
Y: You’ve recently held a very fresh and unique recruitment day drive. What makes the W Muscat a cool place to work?
DP: You name it! Right from the very start we want to make our talents feel special. So, we don’t have a normal recruitment process –we do a ‘Casting Day’ instead. This is a chance for us to show you who we are and for our talent to show us who they are. For W Muscat we had a fantastic idea to do all our talent interviews inside our moving W bus with music – sort of like hey, your journey starts here! We want to get to know you in a different way and see how you feel about our unique style and if it’s a fit – because we’re like this all the time, that’s W!
And while W is a very unique brand, we still belong to Marriott – one of the biggest hospitality companies in the world and it’s just been a great company to grow with. If you work hard and you work with ethics and dedication, you’ll always be given the tools and training to learn and grow. So many of us in this hotel have started from the ground up; all of us have grown inside the company. We know how hard it is to style a room, we know how hard it is to give your all, all the time. We’ve all started from the bottom and have moved up thanks to Marriott. For us, they always say it’s people first – and it’s one hundred per cent true. Here, everyone’s voice is heard.
Y: What makes it all worth it for you, day after day?
DP: For us, we only have one chance to open a hotel like this one and we’re very proud of our product and what we can deliver. Muscat is now on everyone’s bucket list and we are so excited to be part of this exciting time. Muscat has a lot to offer to both international and regional travelers and.
Yes, we have a certain esthetic; yes, we have seven different B&F outlets – but how do we help the country? How do we help Oman and make it as a prime staycation spot or destination to come? We don’t want to show off that we have the best of this or that as a hotel…we’re more like, ‘Come to Muscat, stay at the W, and then go to Muttrah or go visit the wadis – but make W your base’. Because from here we can build a story and there’s so much of Oman represented here in the hotel. We’re just working on the narrative…we want to be the city’s beat, its pulse, its vibe and to share our light and bring people in.