Whatever style of holiday you’re seeking, the Sultanate of Oman has a home from home for you to stay happy
There’s a growing number of hotels and resorts competing for your attention in Oman. The charmingly rustic Shatti Al Qurum beachfront neighbourhood is home to a new cutting-edge hotel in the shape of W Muscat, bringing an updated flavour to the pastoral surroundings. All the rooms offer sea views, while dining venues include succulent steaks at CHAR, funky beats and drinks at Siddharta Lounge by Buddha-bar and alfresco fun at WET Deck.
To immerse yourself in lush panoramas, InterContinental Muscat will serve you well. A coastal oasis, you’ll feel instantly at ease upon seeing its groomed gardens (35 acres, no less). Newly refreshed rooms welcome you in style, and the resort has two tennis courts, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and all the delights of the beach on the doorstep. Plus, you can leave it all behind for a taste of the city whenever you please, due to the hotel’s central address.
A taste of the good life can also be found at the stunning The Chedi Muscat. Denniston Architects, spearheaded by renowned visionary Jean-Michel Gathy, were the creative minds behind the resort’s inspired designs. There are eight places to eat and drink, including The Restaurant, which boasts an elegant dining room and an inviting outdoor patio. Ease yourself into a state of relaxation at the 13-suite Balinese spa and take a dip in one of three swimming pools (we rate the 103-metre Long Pool). Set in a sprawling garden oasis dotted with 158 Omani influenced guestrooms and villas, it’s a truly magical setting.
Just a few kilometres along the same stretch of coastline, Grand Hyatt Muscat is a beautiful, serene hotel set around a fabulous pool and lazy river that snakes its way round the entire beachside pool area. But that’s not all this 280-room hotel has to offer – its restaurants afford plenty to whet your appetite (from Italian to Indonesian fare), while a fitness centre and tennis courts ensure you can burn off any extra calories.
“Float between the two hotels on the lazy river”
Around 45-minutes from the airport, Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa is equally sumptuous. Take your pick of two hotels at this sea-hugging hideaway.The family-focused Al Waha lives up to its name, with several swimming pools merging to form a serene oasis. Al Bandar, on the other hand, is a draw card for foodies with a roster of restaurants to dine your way around (head to Al Tanoor to taste authentic Arabian flavours). You can float between the two on the lazy river.
Another stunning location nearby, Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel is nestled between the coastline and the Al Hajar Mountains. Reopened last year after a thorough renovation, its neck-craning 38-metre-high domed lobby sets the scene for the luxuries to be found inside. Beyond its walls, lush gardens are dotted with five swimming pools, the largest of which is punctuated by palm tree islands. Unwind the Arabian way in the hammam rooms at Six Senses Spa.
North of the airport, the modern Al Mouj development has an aspirational mix of green spaces, waterways, shops and restaurants, as well as a marina and Greg Norman-designed golf course. It’s also home to the luxurious beachfront Kempinski Hotel Muscat Oman, offering 10 world-class restaurants and bars, swimming pools, a tennis court, watersports centre and spa. Stay here and you will have everything you need for an adventurous, stimulating holiday.
The Sultanate also has some wonderful dive sites and at Millennium Resort Mussanah you’re in one of the best spots to delve below the surface. There’s a Padi centre here, as well as a marina where you can take part in watersports, go sailing, embark on a snorkelling excursion, or even charter a yacht. Other outdoor facilities include an 18-hole mini-golf course, tennis courts, pools, a zipline and a fun floating waterpark. For getting out and about, the Rustaq, Mussanah and Nakhal forts, the Al Hajar Mountains, and Daymaniyat Islands nature reserve are all nearby.
Heading further north to Musandam, a mountainous peninsula separated from the rest of the country by the UAE, Six Senses Zighy Bay is like something out of a James Bond movie, with individual villas spread out at the foot of jagged mountains, and direct access to your own wonderful slice of pristine beach. Summer 2019 upgrades are set to make the property even more stunning than it already is – if that’s even possible. Take part in hiking, biking and more, or visit between January and March when it’s prime time for whale shark watching.
Back on the mainland, you can admire more spectacular mountain vistas if you head inland to the fabled Green Mountain where Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, one of the world’s highest luxury resorts, awaits. Unsurprisingly, the spa and hammam rituals are top-notch, while at night you can star-gaze from the viewing platform where Princess Diana once stood in 1986. You can also dine here on the cliff-edge, in a stunning setting reserved for you alone, choosing from menus prepared by your personal chef and served by your butler.
Alila Jabal Akhdar offers an incredible gateway to the area’s history, culture and nature. The resort is surrounded by mountain peaks, small hamlets, uninhabited villages, caves and canyons. With architecture inspired by ancient forts combined with contemporary design, this is a uniquely relaxing environment in which to enjoy the breathtaking surroundings, or indulge in gourmet food and soothing spa treatments.
Sahab Resort & Spa is located in the same region, on the Saiq Plateau of the Green Mountains of Oman. Built on the canyon edge at an altitude of 2,000 metres, summer temperatures here are up to 15°C cooler than at sea level. Soak up the view, gaze at the captivating valleys, and breathe in the pure air for an all-natural way to unwind.
Journeying south to the wild and beautiful Dhofar province and its capital city Salalah, you’ll find ancient frankincense routes and vibrant Indian Ocean marine life. Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara occupies a premier location between a private beach and a freshwater lagoon, providing the perfect base for exploring. Modelled on Oman’s coastal fortresses, garden walkways are lined with palms and water features, which you can marvel at while relaxing in the infinity pool. Once you’re suitably chilled, and have visited the spa, make the short journey to Al Baleed Archaeological Park and the Museum of the Land of Frankincense Rooms. After that, you can return to the hotel for drinks on the beachfront terrace.
Discover more of the picturesque coastline at Salalah Rotana Resort. Fronting the ocean, and set amid lagoons, water features and man-made canals, it’s an immersive experience like no other. Sightsee by day and rejuvenate at Zen spa before sipping sundowners at The Beach Bar & Restaurant, and embarking on a culinary journey at Silk Road.
Moving back up the coast to another far-flung resort, the splendid Masira Island Resort on Masirah Island is a great base from which to enjoy the pick of Oman’s natural charms. The island is magnificently diverse and offers a wide range of watersports (the surfing here is excellent), as well as excursions into the desert and the hills. The area is also famous for housing the world’s largest population of Loggerhead turtles. With just 21 rooms, you can be sure that the service here will always be attentive.
Going full circle to the thriving heart of Muscat, Grand Millennium Muscat is close to the airport, and connected directly to Muscat Grand Mall via a sky bridge. Stay here for easy access to Muscat’s landmark tourist sites, the business district and beaches, and also to enjoy the pool, badminton court and Zanta spa, where you can rejuvenate after a day’s sightseeing. Dining wise, Taybat offers contemporary world cuisine while Bahriyat has an incredible selection of fresh seafood.
Also within easy access to the airport, Crowne Plaza Muscat OCEC is convenient and charming. The IHG Airport Booth is manned around the clock and will ensure you get a speedy shuttle bus to the hotel. The team will also assist with all your arrival requirements. Once there, you’ll find a 24-hour gym, swimming pool, and spa. If you want to venture outdoors, hiking, tennis courts, scuba diving and snorkelling are all within easy reach. In other words, you’ll want for nothing.
In the heart of the capital’s thriving business district, Centara Muscat Hotel Oman is another property offering the best of both worlds. With an excellent fitness centre and rooftop pool, you’ll stay in shape during your trip, which will serve you well for exploring the city on your doorstep. Spa Cenvaree celebrates Ayurvedic and Thai wellbeing rituals, while dining venues include Akdeniz Turkish restaurant and Tiptara, which serves a crowd-pleasing mix of Mediterranean, Omani and Asian flavours.
A great value choice, the Holiday Inn Muscat Al Seeb ticks a lot of boxes. Just a 15-minute drive from the airport, downtown Muscat is a half-hour drive to the east. It’s also next door to City Center Muscat shopping mall, which has a Magic Planet entertainment centre, ideal for those with kids in tow.
For a premium spot overlooking the mountians and lush valleys, the Hormuz Grand Muscat, A Radisson Collection Hotel is your go-to. Set amid an oasis of trees, all guestrooms and suites are well kitted out with understated décor and stylish bathrooms. The hotel’s east-meets-west concept results in some fabulous food, including northern Indian cuisine at Qureshi Bab-Al-Hind. Plus, the tension busting Thai and Balinese massages at iSpa are the perfect way to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing.
Having experienced the best hospitality, you’re sure to fly out of Oman with a firm resolve to come back to the Jewel of Arabia as soon as possible.
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