Travellers today seek niche experiences, experiential or immersive as one may call it, which would provide exceptional personalized services. From specialized retreats to glamping, the types of experiences added increase every time. Shaji Abu Salih, Corporate Director Business Development, Shaza Hotels and Mysk Hotels shares with TRAVTALK their journey over the years.
Can you please explain about the new trend in Experiential Tourism?
As the name suggests, Experiential Tourism, also called Immersive Tourism, features experiences first and all other norms are created around it. The product is handcrafted to provide an immersive experience to the user, by actively engaging with either heritage, culture, environment, adventure, wellness, people, food among others or even a combination of these multi experiences. This niche kind of Immersive Tourism has existed for a long time. However, COVID brought attention to such touristic offerings due to the size, privacy and the personalization offered by these products. People wanted to disconnect, immerse themselves in a new world and explore more of what they would like to see. It is no longer a stay in a hotel room or enjoy the typical hotel facilities for
people to enjoy a holiday, but to collect experiences that are cherished forever.
What is Shaza’s role in Experiential Tourism?
Shaza has created Mysk Retreats to promote experiential tourism and its offerings. We are currently the leading brand in the region specializing in managing experiential tourism, operating four active retreats and many more under development. All our retreats feature unique themes such as adventure, wellness, heritage, and nature. We are also developing immersive experiences in agro/farm concepts, beach adventures, culture, and trade. Our centralized approach and expertise in managing these retreats ensure efficiency and profitability in the retreats
In your opinion, what is the USP of this concept?
It is not just a USP, but a series of benefits in different multitudes. Experiential Tourism has less investment outlay. It does not burn a hole in the investor’s pocket with fixed assets that need huge investments. Hence the ROI is easier and quicker. The yield from such investments is high. People are willing to pay more for unique experiences. Operationally, the overhead costs are less due to the size of retreats. On another note, these projects advocate sustainability and responsible tourism as well. They reduce the CO2 footprint to maximum and ensure renewable and sustainable resources in operation. However, we must factor the high infra development and utility costs in developing such experiences rurally.
At present, in which areas do you have this concept?
We opened our first nature retreat in Kalba called Mysk Kingfisher Retreat under Shurooq Investments. After the success of Mysk Kingfisher Retreat, we opened the adventure and heritage concept at Mysk Al Badayer, in the red dunes of Mleiha Desert. Then the first wellness retreat concept in Mysk Al Faya Retreat, next to the fossil rocks of Al Faya area. We recently opened the adventure
concept at Mysk Moon Retreat in the Mleiha area of Sharjah, featuring glamping in domes and tents with private pool and DIY concept. We are also developing more such retreats across GCC. We will open the first ‘Glamping on Wheels’ concept called Mysk Nomads, a fun filled stay in the Caravans near the Hamriyah Beach in Sharjah. We are entering into farm tourism with Mysk Najd Al Meqsar village on the mountains of Khor Fakkan.
Will you be looking at launching them elsewhere too?
Due to the success of our retreats in UAE, we are receiving multiple interests from various parts of the world to develop similar immersive experiences. We are excited to announce our first immersive experience in Oman called Mysk Muttrah Collection, a first of its kind featuring stays in traditional Omani houses embedded within the old Mutrah Souq. Moreover, we have active Mysk Retreats projects, currently in the development stages in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Egypt, UAE, and Levant. So please keep watching this space.
Who is your target audience? Our key target audience is families. All our experiences are curated around exploration, engagement and entertainment, catering to families of all sizes. We also target couples/honeymooners. We also cater to small incentives and corporate retreat groups, who look for productive meetings or training along with activities.
Are they more family friendly or children friendly?
All our retreats are family-friendly. We have handcrafted experiences created for kids of all ages and to engage in family group activities.