Words Pooja Jayaram Gupta

Oman as a holiday destination? 

Life is filled with opportunities to seek the exceptional, encounter the new and widen our horizons and this is exactly what we did. Nestled  2,000 metres above sea level on the curving rim of a great canyon, the imaginative luxury resort beckons the intrepid traveller to immerse in rich local culture and indulge in adventures into the otherworldly mountainscape of northern Oman – THE ANANTARA AL JABAL AL AKHDAR RESORT luxury at its best.

An idea fostered by me and my significant other, Puneet, Anantara Resorts, Oman is a highly appealing property in the desert   Decision was taken but I must admit with some trepidation from my parents. All the doubts were well and truly blown away soon after.

Received at the airport most courteously by smart, educated and suitably attired Omani escorts, the incredible journey began. The luxuriant 4-wheelers expertly driven, took us up through a long and winding road.  The exquisite scenery was a forerunner to what would be a ‘Magical Mystery Tour’. 

Flanked by majestic rocks, vast date plantations, historic forts, dry riverbeds called Wadis, and mountains of ethereal beauty, we ascended to cooler climbs, convinced that it could get only better. Three generations were treated to a delightful holiday in the Middle East. The stark beauty of the rocky landscape says it all. 

Al Jabal Al Akhdar, Arabic for ‘The Green Mountain’, is a gem tucked away that offers Omani splendour in the most breathtaking of natural settings. Arrival at the Anantara property was so welcoming that even the kids couldn’t conceal their excitement.

Built-in traditional architecture, to resemble an Omani fort, it has a forbidding exterior, but once inside, its opulence is mind-blowing. The arched spaciousness and the sandy hue of the walls transport one to medieval times in most modern settings. The contrast was so compelling, the resort strives to be authentically Omani while providing international levels of luxury. It has one attraction that is unquestionably world-class – the breathtaking view and location. 

The villas allotted were magnificent; excellently appointed – large with each room effortlessly seeming into the next, affording the children with ample space to play with gay abandon. All rooms look out onto the grand canyon and boast large balconies where you can sit and sip a nice hot soothing brew while taking in the gorgeousness of this place. The service, professional.

Early morning swims in the infinity pool is an experience beyond comprehension. 

The precipitous ravines and the wide expanse of the rocky mountains and the gorgeous sunrise is mind-boggling. Swimming in temperature-controlled water with such a stunning backdrop is a perfect way to start the morning. 

Dining was equally appealing. Breakfast at the stunning Al Maison is a treat for all the senses.  Offering a wide array of world flavours and delicacies, ranging from authentic Omani, Indian, French pastries, this grand restaurant extends to an outdoor terrace where the view is unparalleled.  Rose jam, a speciality of Oman cannot be ignored, and for the Indian palate the special “CHAI” for breakfast!

A picture prefect view of gorgeous stark mountains, pristine blue skies,  the sun shining bright and a cup of hot chai…a moment to truly cherish. 

The sunset draws all the guests to the Canyon View Platform purportedly loved by Princess Diana.  An unbelievable sight with the majestic mountains silhouetted against the setting sun. A well-appointed bar warms the spirit as the desert cold now strikes. 

Last but not the least, imagining Christmas in Oman was truly farfetched. We were in for a pleasant surprise.  Overnight, the courtyard was transformed with wondrous lighting and decorations and Christmas was aptly and wholly welcomed.

Guests of myriad nationalities joined in the festivities with great fervour and enthusiasm.  Fun and games for the children and Santas arrival were heralded by traditional Omani music and rituals. Lovely carols, hot chocolate with marshmallows, gifts from Santa and music rent the air and the festive spirit was there for all. 

All good things must come to an end but we didn’t expect the glorious Christmas dinner that awaited us.

The roast turkey so expertly carved by the chef was a connoisseurs delight not to mention the wide array of desserts. The management surpassed all our expectations in making Christmas happen in Oman. Distinctive and special, a Christmas one can never forget. 

It was time to leave and once again travel the long and winding road but not before experiencing a holiday of a lifetime, looked after the most generous and courteous staff in a resort of exquisite beauty.

Memories to last us for years and a holiday we as a family will always cherish for a lifetime. THE ANANTARA AL JABAL AL AKHDAR RESORT truly luxury at an all-time high!