Embark on an Arabian adventure29/10/2019
Dreaming about a holiday in Oman but not sure where to start? Chris, our Assistant Reservations Manager shares his experiences from his first visit in June to help inspire your next Arabian adventure...
We arrived into Muscat on a gloriously hot morning, having flown overnight with Oman Air from Heathrow Airport. Oman Air had been comfortable with some nice touches such as eye masks, toothpaste, and a toothbrush. The onboard seatback entertainment system was fairly good with a reasonable selection of films and television programmes to enjoy.
Muscat Airport is just over a year old and therefore modern, spacious and very easy to navigate. I would advise organising your Oman entry visa in advance of arrival so as to avoid any queues at immigration. This is easy to do online and only costs approximately £10.00.
We were to spend two nights in The Chedi Hotel, just 20 minutes from the airport. The Chedi Hotel opened in 2003 and is a traditionally white-walled property with rooms set on two floors around beautifully manicured gardens. The hotel is situated on the beachfront and for those not wishing to swim in the warm calm sea, there are 3 outdoor pools including one that is the longest in the Middle East.
The majority of meals are taken in the main restaurant which has different choices of cuisine, while in addition there is a beachfront restaurant that opens for lunch, plus during the cooler periods of the year also for dinner.
All accommodation is spacious, however for a real treat such as a honeymoon then taking one of the Sea View Suites is worth the expense. With 76sqm, a separate lounge, complimentary minibar including soft drinks and spirits, a sunken bath and dual vanity areas they really are a luxurious choice.
The following day while my colleagues headed out to the Daminyat Islands for snorkelling, I took the opportunity to go dolphin watching. The marina was near Old Muscat, just 20-30 minutes from The Chedi. While the formalities were being taken care of I took the opportunity to enjoy some shade and a drink in the cafe at the marina before boarding.
Once onboard we headed out of the marina on our covered boat which had seating for roughly 20 people. 15 minutes out of the marina, we had success as the first pod of dolphins were spotted. The captain stopped the boat and we bobbed around on the calm sea watching them occasionally breaching the water. Another 3 boats joined us and for the next hour, we followed the dolphins alongside watching local fishermen landing catches by hand. While I have been fortunate enough to have enjoyed dolphin watching elsewhere it is still a spectacle that I never tire of and I was sad when we eventually moved away and headed back towards land. On the way, we took a cruise along the coast taking in some of the sites such as Al Bustan Palace, probably Muscat's most famous hotel, we went through a natural arch in the rocks and finally spotted the British Ambassador's residence located in a stunning spot above the marina (lucky person!).
Following our time in Muscat, we headed inland towards the Jebel Akhdar mountains via the old city of Nizwa. Nizwa is famous for its old fort which has recently completed a refurbishment. Just 1 hour 45 minutes along the dual carriageway it is the ideal stopping off point in the foothills. Nizwa also hosts a famous livestock market, however, if you wish to see the spectacle you need to stay the night before as it takes place early in the morning.
We headed up into the mountains by 4x4 (it is compulsory to have a 4x4) for an hour until arriving at our accommodation. The drive was a little winding, however, the roads are in excellent condition making it quite comfortable. The views as you climb higher are spectacular and you'll want to stop the vehicle regularly for photos.
Our accommodation was Alila. Situated on the top of the plateau with stunning views on two sides of the property it is absolutely stunning. The hotel opened in 2014 and the first thing you notice is how refreshing the temperature feels after the heat of Muscat, traditionally 10-15 degrees cooler throughout the year.
There are just 86 suites split into 6 categories. All of the accommodation I saw was of a high standard and should make any guest very happy. They have an outdoor infinity pool along with a heated small pool just in case the temperature cools too much. The hotel has a wide range of activities, many of which are included such as guided walks, afternoon tipples in the Rose Bar, core archery or yoga (with a stunning view). If you feel daring it is possible to pay a small supplement to enjoy a wire walk along the cliff edge. Being in the middle of nowhere the night sky was incredible and star gazing is complimentary with their in-house guide. The quality of his knowledge was exceptional as was the equipment used.
If you are taking children there is an excellent club which is complimentary and available for those aged 4-16 years. They run programmes throughout the day generally based around nature and the surrounding environment. Inside there is table football, games consoles, film showings etc, plenty to keep all children occupied.
Breakfast is set in your choice of indoors or on the terrace. Sitting outside with the clean mountain air enjoying the lovely view along with the quiet was truly wonderful, while the food produced was excellent. This truly is a great hotel in a great friendly country.
If you are inspired to embark on an Arabian adventure in Oman, speak to our reservation team or search 'Oman Holidays' on our blog.