I recently enjoyed a wonderful long weekend in Dubai. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Emirates Boeing 777-300ER new Business Class Brussels to Dubai
- Review: Armani Hotel Dubai
- Review: PHENOMENAL Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman (today)
- Review: Emirates Boeing 777-300ER new First Class Dubai to Brussels
Today: Review of Six Senses Zighy Bay (Oman)
- Location: Google Maps
- Hotel website: Six Senses Zighy Bay
- Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities with Virtuoso
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 beds. All villas have a private pool, where guests can refresh within the privacy of high cobblestone walls. The property also features a terrific spa and several word-class restaurants.
Six Senses Zighy Bay features in my top 10 lists of the best hotels in the world, the best luxury hotels in Oman, the best hotel spas in the world, the world’s most amazing beach hotels, the world’s most over-the-top hotel experiences, the world’s best Six Senses resorts, and the world’s most amazing restaurants with a view.
In this review (more info and photos below the slideshow) :
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- Six Senses Zighy Bay enjoys a remote but easily accessible location on the Musandam Peninsula, an exclave of Oman on the Strait of Hormuz that is entirely surrounded by the United Arab Emirates. The Musandam Peninsula features spectacular scenery, with barren mountains rising up to 2000 m (6500 ft) above sea level and jutting out like fingers into the sea, hereby creating countless fjord-like inlets and yielding phenomenal views. The mountains have housed extremely isolated Bedouin communities for centuries, some of them still being closed for non-Omanis. The nearest airport to the resort is Dubai, an easy 120 km (or 75 miles) drive via a highway through the desert, which usually takes around two hours.
- Six Senses Zighy Bay enjoys an otherworldly setting so dramatic that you’ll be completely blown away by the breathtaking natural beauty that awaits you once you reach the property, even if you have seen already tons of photos of the resort before arrival. The five-star resort is located on a small strip of land in a majestic bay, which is sandwiched between the craggy Hajar Mountains, a 1,6 km (1 mi) long arc of powdery soft sandy, and the turquoise, warm waters of the Gulf of Oman. The location is super-private as there’s nothing else in the immediate vicinity of the resort, except for a small authentic fishing village. The setting gives the feeling of exciting remoteness, yet offers every comfort and easy accessibility.
- An amazing 4×4 drive over a steep mountain pass is the usual arrival method. You’ll never forget your first glimpse of Zighy Bay and the resort as you drive over the top of the dusty, cinnamon-colored mountains and begin your dramatic descent towards the beach-front hotel (no worries: if you drive to the hotel with your own rental car, you can leave it at the hotel parking located at the valley below the mountain ridge). The resort also offers two options to ‘upgrade’ the arrival experience (albeit at an extra cost): you can either paraglide down the mountain top with a Six Senses professional, or make your entrance by speedboat from a neighboring bay port.
- In keeping with Six Senses’ core principles and identity, the resort perfectly blends into its rugged, spectacular surroundings. Set in an oasis of more than 1500 date palm, fig and pomegranate trees, the resort is modeled after a traditional Omani village, with low-rise indigenous-style pavilions, beautiful stone-walled villas, open-sided barasti shelters, and narrow sandy passages where you may encounter the odd wandering goat. In fact, the resort looks almost exactly like the fishing village next door, with which it shares the dramatic bay. The tranquil village theme of Six Senses’ outpost in Oman is a welcome respite from the opulent 1001 Arabian Nights ambience that most other hotels in the area (Middle East) offer.
- The authentic Omani village vibe is complemented by the resort’s rustic interiors, which are designed and furnished to reflect local Omani culture. The stone walls are painted in tones of cream to resonate with earthy brown hues, while antique lanterns cast soft light onto the flagstone floors and dark wooden furniture. The decor throughout the property is created using natural materials like bamboo, wood carvings, unbleached fabrics, ropes and other organic, locally sourced and natural fabrics and materials. Six Senses’ signature Buddhist orange, royal purple, citrus yellow and bright green colors are used in cushions and soft furnishings, adding a playful, subtle touch to the decor’s otherwise neutral and soothing color palette.
- The resort’s layout is quite convenient, with a shaded walkway leading from the low-key lobby to the resort’s central area, a plaza which features a water pond, a picturesque bridge, and a watch-tower (with an exclusive dining room and a spiraling staircase inside). Most hotel facilities are located around the plaza: the library, a lounge, a bar, 2 of the 4 restaurants, and one of the two pools (more on that below). The 84 villas are located in 3 rows that spread out on both sides of the central plaza and run perpendicular to the beach. The resort grounds are expansive but guests get bikes with padded pedals for the duration of their stay (efficient buggy service is provided as well).
- Six Senses Zighy Bay offers 82 magnificent stand-alone villas, reminiscent of stone-walled Omani dwellings. All villas are built of natural stone and warm woods, and offer utmost privacy and tranquility. During my visit, I stayed in a spacious ‘Spa Pool Villa’, which featured a colorfully cushioned living area with writing desk giving way to a bedroom with a heavenly soft kingsize bed decked out in unbleached cotton sheets. The open-plan bathroom came with two sinks, an indoor- and outdoor shower, a deep soaking bathtub, and a toilet. The villa’s highlight was the sandy garden surrounded by high cobblestone walls, where one could relax on the sun loungers, chill in the shaded dining & lounge areas, or take a dip in the private pool.
- In addition to the private pools of the 82 villas, the resort also features two public beach-front pool areas. The main freeform pool is located below the resort’s central plaza, while the second, even larger and lagoon-style pool is found at the southern end of the property, near the water sports center. The latter pool is massive in size as it’s more than 100 ft (35 m) long and about 80 ft (25 m) at its widest, and it’s also the only saltwater pool in the Gulf. The saltwater pool was created by the resort to deal with the salt produced by the desalination process it uses to purify water. Both pool areas come with their own beach club (with plenty of loungers) and poolside service offering meals, beverages and complimentary homemade ice creams.
- One of Six Senses Zighy Bay’s highlights (and one of the main reasons why discerning travelers flock to this resort destination) is its magnificent beach, by far the nicest one in the Gulf. The dramatic beauty of the beach’s mountainous backdrop will knock you off your feet. In addition, the quality of the powdery white, sugar soft sand is great, and the sea is calm and warm, making it perfect for swimming. Since the beach is so long (1,6 km or 1 mi) and the facilities are spread over two clubs, the beach always feel quiet and never gets crowded, even when the resort operates at full capacity. In addition, there’s no public access to the resort’s beach, so you won’t have to share this piece of paradise with non-hotel guests.
- Dining options at Six Senses Zighy Bay offer a highly enjoyable culinary journey, with much of the produce originating from the local fishing village next door and the resort’s own organic garden and farm. There are 4 restaurants to choose from:
- Senses On The Edge is the resort’s signature restaurant and the perfect place to enjoy a very memorable evening with a jaw-dropping view situated almost 300 m (1000 ft above sea level). The fine-dining venue is located a short drive from the main resort (complimentary transfers are offered by hotel car) and serves a five or seven-course set menu accompanied with degustation wines, to be enjoyed indoor or alfresco style.
- Spice Market is located on the central plaza and offers a lavish breakfast, superb dinners and themed buffets in a relaxed Arabic environment highlighted by bold colors and a traditional mud kitchen.
- Summer House is located across Spice Market and is a great spot for a crisp lunch or a fulfilling dinner. Menus focus on Arabian and international cuisine. During the cooler months lunch and dinner is best enjoyed outdoors with views of the pool and wadi.
- Shua shack is a Bedouin-style restaurant set on the beach in front of the saltwater pool. It serves family-style dinners, beginning with local organic salads and oriental mezza, followed by slow-cooked local lamb prepared in the authentic Shua underground oven.
- Wellness is not taken lightly at Six Senses Zighy Bay Resort. The excellent spa – which is located at the base of the Hajar Mountains on the resort’s outskirts – is a retreat from the busy humdrum of daily life. Committed to delivering integrated wellness experiences along with tranquility, fitness and health, the spa offers innovative and ancient holistic treatments from expert in-house and visiting wellness consultants. Besides traditional therapies such as Thai massages, stretching and acupressure techniques, the resort also offers locally inspired treatments inspired by age-old Omani traditions, hereby using plants, herbs and ingredients indigenous to the local area.
- As you may expect from a resort of this caliber, Six Senses Zighy Bay provides impeccable, world-class service. This is particularly the case on the beach where the staff continuously provides iced water and runs over to help with adjusting sunloungers/parasols under the hot Omani sun. As with every Six Senses resort, everyone is also introduced to a Guest Experience Maker (GEM) at check-in, which is Six Senses’ smart terminology for a butler. The GEM looks after you during your holiday and coordinates your needs and requirements with other departments within the resort, to ensure all your queries are handled to maximum satisfaction and that your experience is memorable.
- Sustainability is on top of the resort’s agenda with numerous practices to minimize negative and embrace positive impacts. The eco-friendly policy focuses on energy efficiency, water and waste management, protecting natural surroundings, air quality and noise control. For example, the resort has its own organic garden that grows herbs, vegetables, fruits and flowers, for use in the incense-fragranced spa as well as the restaurants. In addition, the resort is also an active participant in programs to improve the well-being of the local Omani community; social commitment includes activities such as giving support to the local Dibba Girl’s School, Sharjah Charity International and Sukarina bin Al Husain School.
- The resort is operated by Six Senses, one of my favorite luxury hotel brands in the world. After its launch in 1995 by Soneva CEO Sonu Shivdasani, Six Senses quickly became recognized as the hospitality industry’s pioneer of sustainable practices, demonstrating that responsibility can be successfully wedded to uncompromised high-end facilities. Six Senses Resorts & Spas are always located in some of the world’s most unique and beautiful places. Whether it be a Six Senses resort on a remote private island or a Six Senses Spa in an exciting urban setting, the touch-points are always decidedly the same. I have previously reviewed the following Six Senses properties:
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
The remote location, dramatic setting, unique design, and world-class facilities make Six Senses Zighy Bay one of my all-time favorite resorts in the world! The property doesn’t have any real cons, but you may want to know the following nonetheless:
- The resort is tucked away in what seems like the middle of nowhere, but, in a way, that is what makes it so unique – secluded, private, quiet and serene with its own amazing beach, great dining options, and exclusive facilities. Although the isolated location is part of the appeal for most guests, it’s important to emphasize that the resort is removed from almost everything, so you won’t find any restaurants, shops or night life within a half hour drive of the hotel.
- The resort faces the east and is backed to the west by a high mountain range. Consequently, most of the property is in the shade around 90 minutes before sunset. On a positive note, if you are an early riser, you’ll be treated to fabulous sunrises over the Gulf of Oman.
- Accommodations are built in 3 rows perpendicular to the beach, so only the villas in the first row enjoy unhindered sea views and have direct beach access (click here for the resort map).
- Because of the resort’s secluded location, your dining options are limited to the resort’s four restaurants, which is not a bad thing since they all offer terrific food. However, not all restaurants are permanently open (e.g. Shua Shack and Summer House are not open for dinner in the humid summer months).
- Location: 10/10
- Design: 10/10
- Pool: 9/10
- Rooms: 9/10
- Food: 9/10
- Breakfast: 9/10
- Spa: 9/10
- Service: 10/10
- Value for money: 10/10
- Overall experience: exceptional: 9,5/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities when you booking Six Senses Zighy Bay via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and a 50 minute massage for two people).
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best hotel deal at a luxury resort like Six Senses Zighy Bay (and receive many free perks).
- Save money: book a half board package to avoid extra costs (since you will have all your dinners at the hotel anyway).
- Room tip: villas are located in 3 rows perpendicular to the sea, so only the villas in the first row enjoy unhindered sea views and have direct beach access (click here for the resort map).
- When booking a table at Sense on the Edge, start dinner before sunset to enjoy the spectacular views.
- The hotel is located in Oman, but is most easily reached from Dubai.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
High season, November to April, offers balmy temperatures and mostly sunny days. This is the best time to spend a holiday at the resort and exercise outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, or simply relax at the beach club. May to September can be uncomfortably hot, but if you can tolerate the heat and humidity, you can save hundreds of dollars as this is low season.
HOW TO GET THERE
Zighy Bay is 75 miles (120 kilometers), or around a 120-minute drive from Dubai International Airport (DXB). Check the Wikipedia page of Dubai International Airport for an updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Dubai.
All visitors are required to send the passport copy/passport details minimum of three working days prior to the arrival date to obtain a border pass to cross the UAE-Oman check point; as for the UAE Resident, a passport and UAE Resident Visa copies are needed as stated in the new regulation of UAE-Oman border.