Go off the beaten tracks, go to Oman with Al Nahda Hotels (Part three) – World Meanderings (n°80)
By Annick Dournes & Frédéric de Poligny
Photos ©Frederic de Poligny & Annick Dournes Back to Oman to continue our discovery of this incredibly varied country set on the South East coast of the Arabic Peninsula. After visiting Muscat and the sand desert lets go to the Al Hajar Mountains usually described as Oman’s backbone. With dramatic canyons, high jagged-edge mountains, hidden traditional villages or unexpected fruit orchards, this region offers incredible and vertiginous landscapes.
Sahab Resort and Spa, a unique hideaway, high up in the mountain
Get ready for active holidays in this comfortable resort perched on the edge of a high plateau. The hotel is ideally located to discover the area and enjoy all the mountain activities you could think of.
Sahab is like a small village of two storeys stone houses surrounding a garden and the outdoor swimming pool. But once there you will be irresistibly attracted by the terrace built on the very edge of a high cliff from which your gaze will dive into the spectacular view. The high mountains, a deep wadi, an ancient village, terrace gardens seem to have been placed there to charm you by a gifted painter. From day break till sunset the view truly is mesmerising.
The hotel has only 27 rooms nicely decorated in earthy colours with all modern amenities including central heating… and air conditioning, which you might both need in the same day considering the fact that you are in a mountain desert!
No way to be bored at Sahab resort. There are so many activities to choose from that making a choice can get pretty tricky. You are in a haven for trekking enthusiasts so don’t forget your hiking boots when you’ll do your packing… The hotel can organise guided hikes for you from 2 to 8 hours walks. These hikes will take you to Jebal Shams, Oman’s highest peak, to local traditional villages, to hidden wadi and waterfalls, to lost oasis where date palms and pomegranate trees flourish or to old forts and castles. Not to forget a 4-hour full moon hike!
There are also mountain biking, donkey trails, rock climbing, visits to local markets such as the Friday goat market… The hotel can also organise guided tours to Nizwa, the ancient capital of the sultanate that was called “the Pearl of Islam” where you will visit its mosque, fort and typical souks.
Forget all your tensions at the URU Spa
The URU Spa offers a wide range of Spa programs from specific treatments designed for curing exhaustion after your demanding mountain hikes to deep-tissue rejuvenation. We had the chance to experience some of them in the capable hands of Tshering, one of the Spa therapists who have all been trained in India.
They use special blends of exotic herbs, essence and aromatic oils especially made for the URU Spa, combined with different techniques of Thai shiatsu and ayurvedic massage. Foot reflexology, scalp massage, back and shoulders or whole body treatments reboot the mind and turn stress into balance.
Tasty authentic food
Although Sahab is a small boutique hotel with only 27 rooms its owners chose to have two different restaurants to offer their guests the best of Omani and international cuisine. Everything is homemade by the chef who was born and trained in India.
The indoor restaurant proposes a wide selection of dishes from around the world offering something for everyone. From a Beiruti Grill made of marinated chicken kebab to Jugeh Kebab from Iran, from Omani Hammour grill, a local fish spiced with Omani masala, to Rosemary medallions of tenderloin, from Chicken Maqboos, a typical Omani recipe, to a vegetarian Biryani, or one of the Chef special curries, your choice may get quite difficult!
The hotel has just opened a new outdoor restaurant on the terrace next to the swimming pool and Jacuzzi. In a relaxed atmosphere you will have lunch or dinner enjoying the spectacular scenery around you. Everything is made on the spot from pizzas to barbecued meat and fish, as well as delicious cocktails or mocktails that will please the whole family. In day time, mind the sun and don’t forget your sunscreen!
Oman’s mountains are a true paradise for hikers and for travellers seeking authenticity. If you go to Oman don’t miss to discover this too little known part of the Arabic Peninsula, you will never forget its fantastic landscapes.
More information and direct booking at www.sahabresort.com
How to get around in Muscat and in the Sultanate of Oman?
One of the simplest ways to visit the country is to rent a car. Local drivers are careful and observe the traffic rules, while roads are well signposted.
You also have the possibility to rent a car with a driver and have organised tours of Muscat and Oman. “House of Travel” is a tour guide company that offers a wide selection of tours in the country with English speaking drivers and guides. You can contact them at email@example.com or visit their website at www.khimjistravel.com.
Al Nadha hotels and resorts can also provide assistance and transfers from the Muscat Airport to Sahab Hotel & Spa in a 4-wheel drive for one to 4 persons, (OMR 85, 43£ to Sahab).
How to get to Oman?
Oman Air has daily direct flights from London Heathrow to Muscat Airport, with an average flight duration of 7 to 8 hours. Seats are comfortable enough, food is in the average and the entertainment choice is quite good, helping you pass the time if you can’t get to sleep.
Oman airport has recently been rebuilt and is one of the best and cleanest airports in the Middle East. Staff is smiling and eager to help foreigners who get there for the first time. Don’t forget to get your visa when arriving at Muscat airport (OMR 5 per person). You’ll get it at a dedicated desk just before going through border formalities.
Text ©Annick Dournes
Photos ©Frederic de Poligny & Annick Dournes