12 December 2019 by David Ward
Throughout the Arabian Peninsula, there are some truly stunning beaches. But, while the crowds flock to Dubai’s oversubscribed sands, those in the know are heading south to Oman, sacrificing the faux-glitz and gaudiness for something altogether more authentic.
Here, a rich Bedouin culture still pervades the very heart of society, all the way from Muscat’s whimsical sprawl to the gleaming, white- sand beaches of Salalah – perhaps the Gulf’s best-kept secret – and up into the valley orchards and mudbrick villages of its mountainous interior. It’s a visual delight, but there’s plenty of luxury here, too, showcased in two of the region’s finest hotels, detailed across these pages. First is the Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara, idyllically nestled between vast deserts and the dolphin-dotted waters of the Dhofar Coast. Then, for a complete contrast, the Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar is perched high in the hills near ancient Nizwa – a spectacular base for hikes onto the Saiq Plateau.
Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara
Located on a private beach in Oman’s southern Salalah region, this resort effortlessly blends Omani and Thai influences with Anantara’s signature sense of style. Accommodation ranges from ultra-stylish garden- view rooms to deluxe beach-view suites complete with free-standing bathtubs, rain showers and outdoor terraces. Most notable, though, are the 88 pool villas. With their private temperature-controlled plunge pools and butler service, they’re the only ones of their kind in Salalah.
Garden View Infinity Pool Villa
The dining is equally impressive, with a choice of gourmet experiences, from the all-day delights and themed buffet nights at Sakalan’s to Al Mina’s zesty Mediterranean flavours and Mekong’s authentic Asian cuisine. There’s also the chance to enjoy an immersive cooking class, dine on the beach with the services of a private butler, or sample wines in the company of the resort’s sommelier. Naturally, in-villa dining is available at all times. The resort’s facilities, too, are second to none, with the stand-out Anantara Spa featuring the region’s only luxury hammam, alongside an array of treatments that incorporate creative ingredients and ancient methods. And, that’s not to forget the gorgeous infinity pool and palm-tree lined gardens, which spill down onto the beach and play host to a superb ‘cinema under the stars’ experience. That’s just one of an array of activities, which also include fishing, dolphin watching and some of the finest diving and snorkelling in the Arabian Peninsula.
Beach at Al Baleed Resort Salalah
Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort
The elevation of the Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort is not the only world-class height it reaches – its level of luxury is perhaps even more spectacular. Contemporary design lies alongside intricate murals and features reflective of Oman’s Middle Eastern culture, with natural materials that, combined with striking modernity, exude utter elegance and, above all, the utmost in luxury.
Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort
What’s more, this is one of the world’s highest resorts, situated on the Saiq Plateau on Oman’s Green Mountain, 2,000m above sea level on the rim of a mammoth canyon. Indeed, humbling canyon views lie outside many rooms, which range from deluxe suites to luxurious mountain villas that feature personal temperature-controlled plunge pools and outdoor showers, as well as a personal maid service.
Plunge Pool at Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar
Elsewhere, four exquisite restaurants all offer dwarfing views of the canyon surrounds, from the sprawling elegance of Al Maisan to the fresh Italian fare of poolside Belle Vista and Al Burj – a Moroccan lounge of opulent maroon and gold. There are also masterchef classes and multi-day personalised wellness retreats as well as endless hiking opportunities in the expansive surrounds. Round off days of adventure with an indulgent treatment in the private hammam suite of the spa, where sauna and steam rooms lie alongside luxurious relaxation areas. The striking infinity pool also provides a wonderful spot to while away the hours.
Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort by night
Oman in style with Anantara
Our recommended three-centre holiday combines both Anantara resorts with the breathtaking beauty of Oman’s mountainous interior and the golden sands of its desert and coast. It all begins, however, in the capital – Muscat. Alongside a stay in one of the city’s finest hotels, you’ll be treated to a tour of its highlights, before swapping mosques and markets for the tranquil beauty of the Al Hajar Mountains. Here, between Nizwa’s cultural intrigue and the sprawling verdure and crumbling ruins of Birkat Al Mauz, you’ll enjoy all the luxuries of your stunning Anantara hotel, from spa treatments to gourmet dining. And, there’s more of the same on the coast in Salalah, where further Anantara indulgences are paired with included tours of Ubar’s lost city, the vast deserts of the Empty Quarter and a dolphin-watching adventure off the beautiful Dhofar Coast. And of course, there’s also plenty of time to relax on the pristine beach.
Grand Mosque and City of Nizwa