Just like Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways, Oman Air has a stopover program, and it’s by far the best one out there.
The main reason gulf carriers offer these stopovers with free hotels is to draw increased tourism to the region since their respective countries usually aren’t the final destination of travellers. By providing free hotel stays, they can then incentivise tourists to open their wallets on local experiences, dining and shopping.
Check out my Oman Air 787 business class review!
Oman Air Ritz Carlton Al Bustan Palace Stopover
Oman Air is offering business and first-class passengers a one night stay at the fantastic Al Bustan Palace (a Ritz Carlton Hotel), including breakfast.
To qualify for your free stay, you will need to comply with the following restrictions:
- Travel business or first class.
- Valid from April 1 to September 1 (2019) – I expect this will be extended.
- You need to be travelling between Europe and Asia/India or the other way around. Basically, you can’t take advantage if you’re tagging on a flight to another ME country.
- You need to book your room via this dedicated page on Marriott, and it’s subject to availability.
- At check-in, the hotel will ask for your boarding pass to verify eligibility.
There are limited rooms available under this program and no alternative hotels on offer, so it’s all about being “first in, best dressed”. However, both times I stayed, the hotel seemed very quiet, and I suspect that’s the case throughout the year.
Oman Air Stopover Program – Keep This In Mind
Another thing to note is the distance from Al Bustan to the new Oman Airport. The distance is 40km, which takes about 40 minutes by car at any time of the day.
Everything in Oman is rather expensive (unlike their cheap business class tickets) so while you’re not paying for the hotel, you are going to be 20 OMR out of pocket for a taxi each way.
20 OMR is approximately Au$80, so in the end, you’re paying $160 give or take for your free hotel.
Oman Stopover Visa
The other thing you need is a visa to enter Oman. Although it's been widely advertised that tourist visas now cost OMR20 and that you can only get it online, I experienced the opposite.
Upon arrival, there was a Visa desk where I purchased a visa for 6 OMR which works out to AU$22. From memory, this was valid for 30 days, so I’m unsure what the visa type is. In any case, make sure you check before leaving.
Oman Air Stopover Program Conclusion
I really hope this program gets continued. The Ritz Carlton Al Bustan Palace is an excellent hotel (I will do a separate review of the place) in what I thought was a great location by the beach.
It’s an excellent spot to relax for a day and rest between your flights. When I stayed, the hotel was very flexible with check-in times as well, and on my second visit allowed me to check-in at 7 AM which is fantastic (I’m Marriott Bonvoy Platinum – not sure if that had anything to do with it).