Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.
Today (May 9, 2016): top 10 best luxury hotels in the Sultanate of Oman.
IMHO, Oman is the most hauntingly beautiful country in the Middle East. It’s a shame that recent events in the world have caused anxiety for tourists and particularly (understandably) to the Middle East. However, Oman is a perfectly safe country, located in a turbulent region, and should be on your bucket list. Its grandiose landscapes and fascinating culture have inspired myths, legends and dreams that still take hold of the imagination. Oman has spectacular mountains, lonely deserts, idyllic beaches, picturesque villages, and elusive wildlife. A welcome and authentic respite for the modernism of its popular neighbour, the United Arab Emirates, Oman still offers a sense of the oriental spirit of 1001 nights with its low-key profile tourism profile. Now is the time to immerse yourself in the mysterious beauty of Oman, because the country gears up to attract much more tourists, with the opening of a new airport, a large conference center and a string of new hotels.
At the moment, Oman does not have a lot of luxury hotels. In fact, it’s only the first five in my list that currently deserve the label ‘luxury’ (but wow, these five will blow you off your feet). But with a flood of new luxury resorts currently being constructed in Oman, I completed the top 10 list with a few of the most anticipated hotel openings.
Do you agree or have a favorite Omani hotel that didn’t make my list? Leave it in the comments or take my poll below.
The new Anantara resort is opening in this summer, and it promises to be spectacular. The 5-star retreat will perche 2,000 metres (6560 ft) above sea level on the curving rim of a great canyon, in the rocky contours of the Saiq Plateau on Oman’s fabled Green Mountain. Elegant architecture will reflect the mountainous surrounds and Oman’s artistic culture, with contemporary design motifs depicting the region’s ancient forts. A striking infinity pool with a belvedere will offer an illustrious setting for relaxation. Anantara spa’s luxuriant hammam will pamper its guests with Arabian cleansing rituals, and helps you find your natural flow in hot yoga.
- Hotel website: Anatara Al Jabal Al Akhdar
Later this year, Anantara will open another Omani luxury resort, which will be located in Salalah, the first of its kind along the south coast of Dhofar. Middle Eastern design will reflect Dhofar’s rich heritage and will be inspired by the region’s iconic coastal fortresses. Intricate, artistic details will complement the princely comforts. Walkways will be surrounded by towering palms, magnificent trees, tropical gardens and lush water features, creating tranquil journeys to new discoveries. Guests will be able to relax at the exotic infinity pool, or soak up the sea view from the resort’s private shore. The resort will have 30 luxurious rooms offering beach, sea or garden outlooks, in addition to 106 one, two and three bedroom villas that will be perfect for romance and shared escapes with family and friends.
- Hotel website: Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara
Jumeirah at Saraya Bandar Jissah is currently under development and is expected to open next year (2017). The resort will have two wings, one consisting of 206 rooms and the other of 112 rooms, located in the picturesque cove of Bandar Jissah, near Qantab, nestled between the Hajar Mountains and the Gulf of Oman, close to Muscat. The overall development will include a 1,200 square metres Talise Spa, a dive centre, a wide range of sports and leisure facilities, a selection of restaurants, bars and cafes and a kids club. The resort forms part of a larger development that includes 300 high-end residential townhouses and villas, taking advantage of some of the most beautiful, unspoilt coastline in the Middle East.
- Hotel website: not yet available
Set on 35 acres of lush palm gardens between the Hajar Mountains and the sands of the Gulf Coast, the InterContinental Muscat is located in the heart of Oman’s capital. The hotel is old though with dated rooms (although the hotel is currently refurbishing some guestrooms). It’s located along the shore, but the beach here is public and unattractive. But despite the negatives, the hotel is big on amenities. It offers two floodlit tennis courts, a 25-metre (82 ft) olympic size pool, a leisure pool, a fully equipped gym, sauna, and a jacuzzi. Having a good array of leisure facilities and being close to the Muscat’s main commercial districts and only 15 minutes from the airport, the hotel is still a favorite amongst business travelers and leisure guests alike (although I would not rank it as luxurious).
Desert Nights Camp, the only luxury desert camp in Oman, is an ideal base for an Arabian desert adventure, with spectacular craggy mountains in the distance, endless dunes and crystalline wadis. It is only a two-hour drive away from Muscat. The camp is sprawled across 10-acres of silken sands within the vast isolation of the Omani desert. The 30 luxurious, fully air-conditioned Bedouin style tents feature Oman styled cosy sit-outs, luxurious beds under a linen canopy suffused with golden light, tiled rooms with, tasteful Arabian furnishings, and boutique bathrooms. Each night, guests feast on traditional Omani fare in the flickering glow of the campfire.
- Hotel website: Desert Nights Camp
The Chedi Muscat was one of the first stylish and ultra-sleek resorts to rise on the Gulf of Oman. Today, it remains a standard-bearer for quiet luxury, and with its minimalist design, it still ranks as Oman’s most elegant and exclusive resort. Its located on a long stretch of private beach and 21 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, although its setting is not nearly as dramatic as the hotels listed below (hence why I don’t rank it higher). Sparkling waters, vibrant gardens and dramatic mountains as seen through the grand windows in all 158 tasteful, well-appointed guest rooms and suites heighten the calming effect of the natural and timeless environment. Facilities at The Chedi Muscat are utterly comprehensive, with six distinct restaurants, a thirteen-suite Balinese spa, three swimming pools, including a stylish 103-mere (338 ft) long pool, a gorgeous health club plus two executive meeting rooms.
- Hotel website: The Chedi Muscat
- Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, free breakfast, a 50-minute massage for up to two guests per stay, early check-in, late check-out, and roundtrip airport transfers).
- Review: read here my review of The Chedi Muscat.
Tucked away between the rugged Al Hajar mountain range and the Sea of Oman, Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel is a beachfront retreat set in exquisite gardens. The hotel was originally opened in 1985 to host visits by foreign heads of states at that year’s Gulf Cooperation Council Summit and at the celebrations marking the 15th anniversary of Sultan Qaboos’s accession to power. Arab and art deco influences infuse the resort with an elegant ambiance, most notably in its majestic 38 metres (124 ft) high, domed atrium lobby. From each of the hotel’s 250 guest rooms and suites’ private balconies, guests can gaze upon magnificent mountain, sea or garden views. The hotel is located on the most beautiful stretch of beach in the vicinity of Muscat. Last year, a phenomenal Six Senses Spa was added to the hotel and built into the surrounding landscape of towering stone and rock cliffs.
- Hotel website: Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel
- Other accolades: Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel also features in my top 10 list of the most amazing hotel lobbies in the world.
- Review: read here my review of Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
Exclusively located on the bay at Barr Al Jissah, the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa nestles against the dramatic backdrop of the rugged interior mountains and the spectacular waters of the Gulf of Oman. The resort consists of three separate hotels: Al Waha (Oman’s first dedicated family hotel), Al Bandar, and kids-free Al Husn. The latter offers Shangri-La’s highest level of service, amenities and privileges. Its 180 rooms and suites are amongst the largest and most luxurious in Oman, with an inviting décor inspired by royal Arabian palaces and accented by authentic Omani artworks. Guests can enjoy access to the private a 100-mere (328 ft) beach, as well as enjoy complimentary mini-bar, daily complimentary afternoon tea and pre-dinner cocktails and canapés service.
Jabal Akhdar, meaning “The Green Mountain” in Arabic, is part of the Al Hajar mountains range, one of Oman’s most spectacular areas. Set 2000 metres (6560 ft) above sea level, Alila Jabal Akhdar provides access to this magnificent landscape of untouched beauty. Overlooking a dramatic gorge and with views of the Hajar mountains, the hotel is perfectly positioned to explore the region’s renowned rugged landscapes, a haven for adventure travellers, nature lovers and those seeking an escape from the desert heat. The resort’s 78 beautifully appointed suites and villas are located within the main hotel building or arranged in individual clusters of four to six suites, generously spaced out around the clifftop to maximise privacy and uninterrupted views over the mountains and down into the gorges.
Alila Hotels and Resorts also plans to open its second luxury resort development in Oman in Mirbat, east of Salalah, a coastal town in the Dhofar governate, in southwestern Oman.
- Hotel website: Alila Jabal Akhdar
- Other accolades: Alila Jabal Akhdar features in my list of the best luxury hotel openings of 2014.
- Review: read here my review of Alila Jabal Akhdar.
Six Senses Zighy Bay is an ultra-luxurious “hidden gem”, located on Oman’s northern Musandam Peninsula, only a scenic two-hour car journey (but a world apart) from Dubai. The setting of this beautiful indigenous village-style resort with its private marina is spectacular, with dramatic mountains on one side, and a 1.6 kilometer (1 mile) sandy beach on the other. The resort gives the feeling of exotic remoteness, yet offers every comfort, easy accessibility and barefoot luxury beyond imagination. The accommodations are inspired by traditional Omani houses and feature high indigenous-style ceilings, colorfully cushioned living area and cloudlike bed made with unbleached cotton sheets topped with your choice of ergonomic pillows. All villas have a private pool, where guests can refresh within the privacy of high cobblestone walls.
- Hotel website: Six Senses Zighy Bay
- Other accolades: Six Senses Zighy Bay also features in my top 10 lists of the best health spas in the world, the world’s most amazing beach hotels, the world’s most over-the-top hotel experiences, and restaurants with views that match the food.
- Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, free breakfast, a massage for two people, early check-in and late check-out).
- Review: read here my review of Six Senses Zighy Bay.