Wadi Tawaheen rest house is a peaceful and traditional mountain home in a secluded area of Orjan Valley in Ajloun. It is run by Sultan Zeitoun and his wife, who warmly welcome guests to enjoy the native gardens and the stunning views. As well as offering food and beverages and homemade preserves, the rest house offers excellent family accommodation.
Sultan Zeitoun’s rest house was expanded and accommodation added as part of the USAID tourism project’s prior initiative to establish the Ajloun Tourism Trail in 2012. Since then, Sultan has been able to enhance his hospitality skills and capabilities through a variety of training courses offered by the USAID Economic Growth Through Sustainable Tourism Project. These include safe food handling, product pricing and services and tourism marketing.
By improving his knowledge of marketing and his networking skills, Sultan was able to bring in new business by distributing brochures to different tour operators. He also made a deal with the Royal Society for Conservation of Nature (RSCN) to sell his high quality homemade preserves through their gift shops. With large orders coming in from Italy and the United Kingdom, sales from his pomegranate molasses, sumac and ground zaatar (thyme) have doubled.
The service at his rest house has improved too. “We are more careful when it comes to food safety. No one can enter the kitchen except the one in charge of food preparation and service. We started applying best practices in terms of personal hygiene and kitchen cleaning; such as wearing gloves, sterilizing utensils, using boiled water to wash vegetables, and so on,” explained Sultan.
In addition to good service and hospitality, reasonable prices encourage visitors to come back. “We learned how to price our products and services through another workshop organized by USAID tourism project. We understood that manipulating customers reflects negatively on us, so it is in our better interests to be fair and reasonable,” he added.
Business has grown as a result, and revenues from the rest house have increased by 15% between 2013 and 2014. With more customers more hands were required, so in addition to himself and his wife, Sultan’s three sons now also work at the rest house during high season.
The USAID tourism project also helped Wadi Tawaheen rest house, as well as other local businesses along the Ajloun Tourism Trail, to gain online presence by creating simple and user friendly websites, which are essential business tools to attract more customers.
As a result of his recent success, Sultan Zeitoun added two extra rooms to his rest house, and to be better able to accommodate the increasing demand he also recently bought a small plot of land next door to his bed and breakfast with plans to expand further.
“Our good practices are the secret behind our success,” explained Sultan Zaitoun.
Visitors can find Wadi Tawaheen Rest House online at www.waditawaheenrest.com