Travelling to Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, this five-star resort, quite literally, transports you above the clouds, enabling you to feel the calmest you’ve ever felt.
It’s just gone sunrise as bright light pours into my room. I note the time of day, refreshingly not from my alarm sounding off – I haven’t even checked my phone yet – but from the spectacular view that meets my eyes as I sit up in bed. I made the conscious decision to open my curtains the night before, upon arrival at the Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar; I wake up so much happier with natural light and there is nothing quite like waking up to the view to which I have just been treated.
This five-star resort in Oman, 2,095m above sea level, is a dream getaway location. The hotel rooms consist of a mixture of private villas and deluxe bedrooms, with the canyon view that the majority of the accommodation boasts, taking my breath away every time I set my gaze upon it.
Another way to have your breath taken away is in a less serene manner. The resort offers a range of recreational activities, one of which is the Ultimate Jabal Activity Wall. It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t know exactly what I was in for prior to harnessing up and embarking on the ‘Via Ferrata’; climbing rocks along a steel cable before finishing with two natural-high-inducing zip lines. The silver lining? More time spent on scaling the cliff means more time appreciating the incredible view.
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To be completely honest with you; I was terrified. I’m all for doing these types of activities for the experience but I’d be kidding myself to think I have any remote hand-eye coordination, balance or skill for them. It was thoroughly worth it, and if you, like me, are slightly unsure, just get harnessed up without thinking too much about it as once you’re out on the cliff face, there’s only one way to go. And it’s beautiful.
A fantastic experience – but get me to the spa, I think… A one hour massage and foot rub has never felt so good. Sticky, sweet dates, grown in Nizwa, the old capital further down the mountain, and ginger tea follow as I sit peacefully in my own company, relaxation mode fully on. I spy the spa pool and take note to return here after dinner for a pre-bed dip in the hot water and bubbles. A steam is certainly a luxurious step in a pre-bedtime routine and one that I definitely do not have time or facilities for in my daily London life. Escaping at Anantara is about indulging in everything you could ever wish for and right now, I wish to never leave this spa.
But alas, I eventually do. Finding my way through the hotel’s extensive grounds, I quickly make acquaintance with the different eateries. I’m spoiled for choice at breakfast, choosing watermelon and pomegranate from the buffet one day and za’atar croissants and labneh the next; the restaurant aptly named Al Maisan, meaning ‘Amazing Star’. Bella Vista (Beautiful View) is where I dine for lunch and after an exquisite seafood soup and grilled Hamour fish – typical to Oman – the infinity pool and jacuzzi are both in sight and I know where I will be headed shortly. Typical Arabic cuisine is for dinner at Al Qalaa, with kibbeh, tabbouleh and lamb which effortlessly falls off the bone, filling my stomach for the evening.
My mornings are spent watching the sun rise on my balcony or clearing my mind with an invigorating yoga session; my evenings are spent immersed in the blood orange sky, the golden pools of sunlight setting. The exact golden shade of the mango and passionfruit cocktail I am sipping one night at Diana’s Point – where the late princess actually visited in 1986. I have forgone drinks at Al Burj, the bar inside the tower, but I think I can be forgiven, given how gorgeous it is outside. It’s not long before a blanket of stars cover the sky and I reach for my pashmina, as the temperature is about 15 degrees cooler in the mountains, compared to Muscat.
Another excursion is to a walk around the Three Villages, the last of which is fully abandoned, with the majority of the people having moved to the ‘New Town’ for work and quality of life purposes. It’s amazing to walk the emptied streets, with no one about but ourselves. There’s a theme of coloured and patterned doors throughout the three villages and the view of the canyon below is simply breathtaking.
The perfect retreat, a world away from my busy city life, and a perfect example of looking beyond the capital of a country for the holiday of a lifetime.