Go off the beaten track, go to Oman with Al Nahda Hotels (Part two) – World Meanderings (n°79)
By Annick Dournes & Frédéric de Poligny
After visiting Oman capital, Muscat, one of the most authentic cities of the Middle East, lets fall under the spell of its desert landscapes. Immersed in the beauty of these sandy areas you will enjoy exciting activities while staying in an oasis of wellness and luxury in a unique boutique hotel. Slow down and shift to a new speed of life in the timeless desert.
Although “Dunes by Al Nahda” is only a one-hour drive from Muscat the change of scenery is complete. The Wadi Al Abyad (White Sands in Arabic) is the sand desert chosen by Al Nahda Hotels Group to create a Bedouin camp-like hotel. Fifty large and luxury tents beautifully decorated with local materials and crafted artefacts have been built in the middle of the dunes to welcome lucky travellers. Nestled on top of one of the highest dunes it gives wonderfully views over the surrounding desert of which colours changes from daybreak till sunset.
As close to nature as it can be “Dunes” nevertheless offers all modern amenities. Beautifully sculpted wooden doors give access to the tents where you discover a majestic ceiling made of pleated fabric, a huge king size bed and a comfortable seating corner. The big bathrooms have warm tadelakt walls and gold plated taps. And of course all rooms have air conditioning, WiFi access and a big TV screen.
The hotel offers a wide range of activities included in the room rate. You can thus enjoy kite flying, bicycle riding in the dunes, Carom board, evening tea and coffee, kids zone… Not to forget the amazing outdoor infinity pool and its views over the desert and the mountains in the background. Simply unique!
There are also exciting activities with extra charge such as Sand Bashing, a four-wheel drive that will take you up and down steep sand dunes, sand surfing or quad bike rides (from 100 cc to 400 cc) for thrilling rodeos on the dunes. For more quiet activities you can opt for a camel farm experience, a cultural tour in the Wadi Al Abyad, golf or cooking sessions during which you will learn how to make the tasty Omani Shuwa, a dish made with lamb marinated with spices, garlic and oil, and slowly cooked buried in a pit of hot coals for 6 to 24 hours.
Even if you don’t cook your own Shuwa you can still enjoy this treat during a memorable BBQ. Organised on request this very special luxury BBQ begins when night comes. You will be seated on soft cushions and have a true Bedouin dinner under the star lit sky.
The “Dunes” also has a Spa where you can experience a unique treatment, the Sand Spa. This treatment uses Hot Sand Therapy. You will “bath” in a tub dug into the ground, filled with sand naturally heated by the hot desert sun. There is absolutely no risk of burn and the sand slowly releases its heat allowing the body to sweat and eliminate toxins that are absorbed by the sand. (Note that the sand is changed with each treatment).
If you’re looking for a unique desert experience combining luxury, wellness and fun “Dunes” by Al Nahda is an unescapable stop while touring in Oman. Don’t miss it!
Booking and more at www.dunesbyalnahda.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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at www.khimjistravel.com.
Al Nadha hotels and resorts can also provide assistance and transfers from Muscat Airport to Dunes Hotel & Spa in a 4-wheel drive for one to 4 persons, (OMR 45, 22£ to Dunes).
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.
Don’t forget to get your visa when arriving at Muscat airport (OMR 5 per person).
Text ©Annick Dournes
Photos ©Frederic de Poligny & Annick Dournes