4 incredible places to stay in Oman
The UAE’s neighbour has some amazing hotels, covering the spectrum from luxury to rustic.EDGAR staff October 25, 2015
We were slightly reluctant to run the following article on EDGARdaily this month because we didn’t want to tell too many people about the beauty and tranquility of Oman and run the risk of the place getting too busy. But we’re pals, so we’re sharing details of one the world’s best hidden gems for luxury travel.
Take a look at our pick of four unforgettable resorts (there’s even a campsite for the more adventurous of you) and if you’re lucky you might bump into Naomi Campbell like we did.
Six Senses Zighy Bay
You know you’re staying in a cool place when Naomi Campbell is just a few villas down the beach from yours. The British supermodel is known for only accepting the best and we suspect she must have been pretty happy at Six Senses Zighy Bay.
This tranquil resort nestled in the spectacular mountains on the northern Musandam peninsula will make your shoulders drop an inch within five minutes of arriving.
Everything here is made from wood, stone and rope. There are no plastics or metals, which generates a feeling of going back to nature. Only two hours from Dubai, but it feels like you’re on another planet. You can arrive at the resort by car, paraglide or speedboat. Yes, you read that right: paraglide. Once back on earth, settle into one of the 82 villas on site and enjoy the clean air, mile-long beach, outdoor shower and pools.
There are several restaurants including Sense on the Edge perched high up on the cliff and Shua Shack, which serves Bedouin style food cooked in an underground oven. A great place for a sundowner is Zighy Bar (where we rubbed shoulders with Miss Campbell).
There’s plenty to do: have a spa treatment, go mountain biking, tackle some rock climbing, take a boat cruise, go paragliding, enroll at an Arabic cooking class or see a movie at the outdoor cinema.
Whatever you do, you’ll feel utterly revived after a stay at this special resort that’s fit for a supermodel.
The Chedi Muscat
As we lie face down on the plush massage bed of the spa at the Chedi Muscat, with the serene background music combining with the sychronised movements of two therapists working in unison to remove every inch of tension from our body, we wonder, can life get any more relaxing than this?
It is a question we have plenty of time to ponder during our time in Muscat, which is just an hour’s flight away from Dubai, but as soon as we set foot inside The Chedi, with its understated yet beautiful Arabian architecture, it feels like we’re a world away.
From the grand central lobby, we are led outside down a crossword puzzle of paths into our luxurious Club Suite. The suite is style and sophistication exemplified, with high domed ceilings giving the rooms a spacious feel.
Inside the suite there is everything you could wish for: a king-sized bed; comfy lounge area; bathroom with his and hers sinks, rain shower and massive bathtub; plus a Bose sound system, Nespresso machine and complimentary minibar.
It’s tempting to lock ourselves away in our luxurious lodgings for the duration of our stay, if it wasn’t for the stunning surroundings that lie outside the confines of our room. Chief among them is the resort’s three pools, including the 103-metre Long Pool – the longest in the Middle East – plus a 370-metre stretch of private beach lined with loungers and daybeds.
There’s no chance of going hungry, either, as the Chedi is home to six restaurants, serving cuisines from Arabic and Asian, to Indian and Mediterranean.
We end our stay in very much the same way it started – face down, but this time on a beachside daybed, soaking up the last of the afternoon’s rays with the sound of the waves on the shore and the sight of birds diving down on fishing trips into the Gulf of Oman. We finally have the answer to the question we’ve been pondering all trip: yes, the massage was relaxing, but this is as good as it gets.
Desert Nights Camp
We all love the idea of camping in the wilds of the desert among the dunes, with nothing but the stars and the occasional passing camel for company, but when it comes down to it, the reality of camping never quite lives up to its idealistic billing.
That’s where Desert Nights Camp comes in: a five-star retreat that combines the best bits of camping with the comfort of a luxury hotel. Set amid the red Wahiba Sand dunes of the Omani desert around two hours’ drive from Muscat, the camp offers tented accommodation that’s more luxurious than you would find at many hotels.
Each tent is fully air-conditioned and comes with an en-suite bathroom and shower, plus all the little extras like bathrobes, slippers and towels. This place puts the glam into glamping.
Alila Jabal Akhdar
In today’s hectic world of unending work with very little in the way of respite, the main reason most people go away is to escape the hustle and bustle of city living and switch off for a while. And when it comes to finding peace and solitude, there are few places to rival Alila Jabal Akhdar.
If the two-and-a-half-hour drive from Muscat Airport through rugged terrain in the hotel’s 4X4 isn’t enough to convince you that you’re truly away from it all, the stunning panorama of the rugged Hajar Mountains plunging into the craggy ravine below that meets you as you enter the resort certainly should be.
The captivating view is one that follows you pretty much wherever you are in the property. From any one of the 86 well-appointed suites and villas dotted around the clifftop, the never-ending mountain range surrounds you completely and cuts off any hint of civilisation – apart from the creature comforts offered at the hotel, of course.
Among those creature comforts are a temperature-controlled outdoor infinity pool, an indoor plunge pool, a gym and the luxurious Spa Alila, which offers a range of revitalising treatments, including the ginger, lemongrass and orange scrub, from therapists trained in physiology, massage and meditation.
For those who get itchy feet at the prospect of days lounging by the pool, the hotel offers excursions to explore the surrounding area. From the eerie yet beautiful abandoned village of Sarab, to the majestic 2,000-year-old juniper trees that stand in the dust bowl on the upper Saiq Plateau, the locale is an example of outstanding natural beauty.
Named after the grand old trees that surround it, the resort’s signature dining venue, Juniper Restaurant, is the best place to satisfy any culinary cravings. While the classic Arabic mezze, tender grilled Omani lobster and spicy chicken tagine alone are enough to warrant the trip, the most impressive thing about Juniper, as with the entire resort is that view.