The atmosphere was tense on February 24 as staff from the nominated restaurants and excited foodies gathered at Al Bandar ballroom at Shangri-La’s Barr al Jissah Resort & Spa to find out who had won at the sultanate’s best-known awards for the hospitality industry - the Oman Today Restaurant Awards 2010.
This year’s awards saw 193,000 votes cast in the preliminary round that was held over a period of two months - a record number for the awards compared to last year’s 114,300 votes. Six judges who visited the restaurants anonymously over the next two months then rated each of the finalists before the winners were chosen.
The awards were presented by Saleh Zakwani, chairman, and Mohana Prabhakar, CEO of Apex Press and Publishing, at a glittering event that had the ‘who is who’ of Oman’s hospitality industry and the corporate world in attendance.
Philip Stanton, COO-MENA, Ernst & Young (MENA), acted as emcee for the evening. The event, which is now in its ninth year, was sponsored by Bank Sohar, Saraya Bandar Jissah and African & Eastern. “We feel proud to be associated with an industry award that has a tested process and encourages the highest standards for the hospitality industry.
The awards have grown in stature and become a reference point for residents and tourists alike,” said Dr Mohamed Abdulaziz Kalmoor, CEO, Bank Sohar. “The Eighth Five Year Plan has identified tourism as one of the sectors that will help enhance economic diversification.
This sector also plays an important role for its ability to create jobs for Omani nationals,” he added. Hamood Sultan Alhosni, general manager of Saraya Bandar Jissah, said that they chose to sponsor the event because, “We categorise this event as one of those that enhance the hospitality industry in Oman.”
Sean Hennessey from supporting sponsor African & Eastern, added, “It is the one occasion of the year that all of our clients are at together.” The big winner on the night was The Beach Restaurant at The Chedi Muscat which took home awards for Best Fine Dining, Best Ambience and Best Service while Shangri-La’s Barr al Jissah and Grand Hyatt Muscat collected two awards each. After collecting the Best Buffet, Marin Leuthard, executive chef at Grand Hyatt Muscat, said, “It is always great to be nominated, but it is fantastic to win.
The award is good news for Mokha Cafe and shows real appreciation for the team which works very hard.” Al Bustan Palace’s China Mood won the Best Far Eastern award and Rocco Bova, F&B director at the hotel, said, “We are overwhelmed by China Mood’s success and it is great for the team’s hard work to be recognised.”
Duke’s Bar at Crowne Plaza Muscat won the award for Best Pub Food. However it wasn’t just the large hotels, which were successful on the evening, with smaller chains and independent restaurants also being recognised. The Best Casual Dining award went to Chili’s, while the Best Indian award, went to Woodlands.
Shaji Abraham, manager at Woodlands, said, “We waited a long time to get this, but it was a great pleasure to finally receive the award. It has been a real team effort.” The Best Newcomer award was given to La Brasserie restaurant in Muttrah and Costa Coffee won the award for Best Cafe.