I stayed at the Hilton which was full of Swedish and Austrian tourists. The Hilton Salalah used to be a business hotel. Last time I stayed there it was quite empty and the only people who stay there are business people who choose it because it is close to the industrial estate. It is now marketed as a resort.
The Swedes come on charter flights direct from Stockholm which bring as many as 250 tourists to Hilton every Thursday. Some stay a week, some even stay two weeks. I asked a cab driver about how business is these days with the hotels full of European tourists. He complained that there isn't much business from them. There's not much to do in Salalah but these tourists don't even venture out of the hotel very often. They mostly bake in the sun every single day morning till dusk. The guy in the hotel's souvenier shop echoed the same feelings. He said that these tourists don't spend much, they just come to relax. Most of them are retirees and they are on very tight budgets. I was surprised how everyone says that, especially since the Salalah Hilton is not exactly a budget hotel. Rooms usually go for around 80 rials a night. But I was even more interested to know why a European tourist would want to come and spend a couple weeks at a hotel right next to one of the busiest ports in the world in the world and an industrial estate. In fact from the view on one side of the Hilton's beach is of the cranes from port. One of the shop owners in the hotel told me that the Hilton sells its room in bulk to a Swedish tour company in advance for a year for just RO. 10 per night. I asked some business people in Salalah about this and they all said it's true. Just 10 rials a night! (though one of them claimed that they rate is actually 13 rials of which 3 rials is a subsidy from the Ministry of Tourism). The hotel gets the tourists cheap and then makes money from selling them food and beverages during their stay. Not a bad business model.
The hotel has internet access in all rooms but it's at 5 rials an hour. Ouch! I went to their business center thinking I might get free access there to check my email but there it was 3 rials per 15 minutes.
Anyhow, if you're ever in the Salalah Hilton, you just have to try the food at the Palm Grove, the restaurant outside by the beach. It gets quite packed and you need a reservation, but the food is very very good.
I passed by the Crowne Plaza Resort the next day for luch and wow, it is definitely where I would stay next time I'm in Salalah. Last time I was in this hotel 8 years ago it was a dump. It's been totally redone and upgraded. I can't say anything about the rooms but I doubt they'd be as spacious as the rooms in the Hilton though the hotel has a true resort feel unlike the Hilton.
Interesting side story:
I called house keeping to get a two-pin adaptor for my laptop. I asked the guy who brought it how come they don't keep these in all rooms since most of their guests are Europeans and most of their appliances are probably two-pin. He said they used to but most guests took the adaptors with them when they checked out. They lost two hundred adaptors before they decided to take them out of the rooms. How come people feel it's ok to take things from hotel rooms?