Snapshots from OMAN
Fiona is lured back by Oman's magic for an active family break, Christmas 2017
“Oman is a place I can return to again and again. There is just something about it, and it was a perfect choice for my family over the Christmas break, with variety and interest for all my boys. There’s an established and growing range of sophisticated hotels, particularly in the mountainous interior. I hope my memories, snapshots and recommendations here will inspire you to visit”.
After relaxing in the Plaza Lounge at Oman’s Muscat Airport while our visas and other formalities were quickly sorted, we cruised through immigration. The Grand Hyatt Hotel proved to be a great base - superb club lounge, generous suites and excellent food. Great fun was had in the pool (and the hot tub!)
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque never fails to astonish. It’s a marvel of gargantuan proportions that exudes spiritual calm and its 8.5 ton chandelier and immense carpet are among the largest in the world. As one of the only mosques in Oman to allow non-Muslim visitors it will give you a wonderful insight into Islam.
Immersing ourselves in the souk at Muttrah to bargain for gifts to bring home - from elaborate silver daggers and intricate Bedouin scarves to frankincense. The fish market was fantastic, it was endlessly fascinating watching Omanis haggling over the catch of the day.
Dining under the stars at the superlative Kargeen Arabic restaurant. Kargeen is the old Omani word for a little wooden cottage and it is a delightful blend of Eastern style with classical Western culture - the food is to die for!
Just opened in Muscat is the five star Kempinski Hotel which sits along six kilometres of stunning coastline just west of the city. It’s in the heart of the stylish community of Al Mouj close to exciting retail and dining facilities, a 400-berth marina, and Oman’s only PGA-standard, 18-hole links golf course, designed by Greg Norman! Everything you’d expect of a world class hotel and more.
The Chedi Muscat is a true oasis of stylish contemporary luxury. I like the club suites in the garden and I get the low down on special offers and promotions so do ask.
Dophin watching. We saw more than 150 dolphins from our boat. Snorkelling with a mother and baby turtle was a very special experience.
NIZWA AND THE MOUNTAINS
Nizwa’s colourful and chaotic cattle market was a joy after our early start. Should we buy a baby camel or a musket? Neither seemed ideal for taking back on the plane! Rambling through the battlements of 17th century Nizwa Fort, we watched local dancers wield their ancient swords before lunching at the stunning Alila resort.
The mountainous landscape between Muscat and Nizwa is magnificent, we loved the awesome views during our two hour drive in a luxurious new Land Cruiser, attentively looked after by our chauffeur guide.
The View, Oman's first ‘Eco Luxe’ retreat sits at 1400m across a wide stretch of valley near Al Hamra. Cabins dotted along a rocky ridge and an epic pool, great for families. From here you can trek towards Jabal Shams, Oman’s highest peak in the Al Hajar mountain range.
Swimming at sunset in the infinity pool at The View looking out over the twinkling lights of Al Hamra.
Alila Jabal Akhdar, perched 2,000 metres above sea level in a canyon in the Al Hajar Mountains, is a haven for adventure travellers and nature lovers wanting a retreat from the desert heat in glorious boutique surroundings. Lots of wood and stone, rooms with balconies, cosy interiors and far reaching views.
For even grander luxury on a larger scale look no further than the nearby Anantara Al Jabal Akhdar Resort. Recently featured on BBC’s Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby it sits at 2,000m on the curving rim of a great canyon on Oman’s fabled Green Mountain. Their climbing experiences by rope, harness, Via Ferrata steel cable or Zipwire are truly exhilarating.
Six Senses Zighy Bay Resort is located on the northern Musandam Peninsula. The setting of this indigenous village-style accommodation and private marina north west of Muscat is spectacular, with dramatic mountains on one side and the sandy beach of Zighy Bay on the other. A new experience is Dhahab’, a beautifully restored classic 27m Omani dhow in which you can cruise the Musandam fjords.
This is for our next visit as the boys will love it! Just two hours’ drive from Muscat, the luxury Desert Nights Camp is an ideal base for an Arabian Desert adventure. Explore craggy mountains, endless dunes and crystal wadis from your boutique Bedouin style tent.
A camel ride at sunset. Relaxing and pampering after a day of dune bashing in the golden red desert sands of the Wahiba, magical nights feasting on traditional Omani fare in the flickering glow of the campfire.
The best time to travel to Oman is October to April. If you’d like to enjoy any or all of these experiences do call me or ask to see a copy of our Forts, Wadis and Souqs of Oman suggested itinerary.
So many things to do, we will surely return as a family to explore the desert and Salalah!