The Arabian Peninsula looms into view across the horizon as the pilot announces our descent from 35,000 feet. Next, the brilliant-blue Persian Gulf appears. As our altitude gradually drops, a unique landscape is revealed. Soaring mountain ranges and rolling desert tundra; mile upon mile of rugged coast dotted with castaway beaches and coves… As an introduction to discovering Oman, this tantalising glimpse through the plane window brings one word to mind: eclectic. But there’s more to this Middle Eastern sultanate than scenery. Kenwood Travel’s Middle East team had touched down at Muscat International Airport to experience its luxury side too.
Kicking Back: Oman’s Amazing Beaches
Tiwi Beach was on our radar for discovering Oman and its coastline, not just for its authentic fishing village setting, but also its scenic riverbed backdrop (Wadi Tiwi and Wadi Shab are nearby). Our favourite aspect of Tiwi Beach was the mix of relaxation and adventure it offered; sunbathe on the soft white sands or hike the bordering mountain peaks. In northern Oman, Muscat city itself unveils some sublime beaches. Not least Al Qurum, whose crowds flock here for the bustling shops and restaurants that throng the strand as much as its warm swimmable waters. Staying in the north, where the gulfs of Oman and Arabia meet, we found some of the clearest water of our trip on the Musandum Beaches, namely Khassab.
Indeed, delving deeper on your beach holiday to Oman will reveal a wealth of underwater treasures. View whale sharks, spotted eagle rays, bottlenose dolphins and honeycomb morays to name but a few of the species that call Oman’s plankton-rich gulf waters home. And for wildlife of the feathered variety, we enjoyed island hopping to Al Sawadi beach in Al Batinah and the Masirah Island beaches off the east coast, where indigenous birdlife can be spotted, between topping up our tans on the beach, of course.
Opulent Experience: the Luxury of Oman
Oman’s rich cultural heritage and warm welcome, together with its opulent Moorish architecture and ancient wellness practices, means it’s a holiday destination where upscale hospitality comes effortlessly. So, to Oman’s blissful beaches and natural beauty, expect to add world-beating luxury, too. Spa lovers in particular are in for a treat: per capita, Oman hotels house some of the biggest, best and most innovative spas in Arabia.
Fine diners, meanwhile, can look forward to some serious foodie highlights. Omani cuisine – influenced as it is by the African, Eastern Mediterranean, Asian and Indian flavours of its spice route heritage – adds an extra touch of luxury to your stay courtesy of the five-star hotels who have perfected the local cooking style. Shuwa (grilled meats) with majboos (mixed rice) was a personal favourite dish on our trip. And there’s lots of luxury on the horizon for couples on a holiday to Oman. As a background to your honeymoon photos, the scenery is unmatched. But it’s the hotel honeymoon packages and generous inclusions that really set Oman apart as a luxury couples’ retreat.
Where to Stay in Oman: The Chedi Muscat
We only had one hotel in mind to host our Oman adventure. Its prime position on Boushar Beach in Oman’s stylish capital had brought The Chedi Muscat to our attention during our tour of the sultanate’s best beaches, and we vowed to return. Firstly, we were looking to soothe our weary bones with some professional R&R, and at 800 square metres (the largest in the city) and specialising in holistic therapies, the resort’s spa did not disappoint. Another sanctuary of relaxation at The Chedi Muscat turned out to be the onsite health club and three swimming pools – one of which being the region’s longest.
Floodlit tennis enhanced our leisure time; nine eclectic dining & drinks venues kept us sated and refreshed; and there were bike hire and whale tours for the adventurous in our group. But the real jewel in the Chedi Muscat crown has to be the rooms: all open-plan elegance, contemporary styling, polished dark wood floors, whitewashed walls, walk-in rain showers, big cosy beds and inspirational mountain or ocean views. Our personal experience of Oman was one to remember.