As some of you already know, we live in Dubai and summer here is a struggle. Heat waves of close to 50 degrees celsius is a daily norm and outdoor activities are all but a dream. The moment we had confirmed our weekend stay in Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar, I knew we would be in for a treat. Weather in this part of the country is much cooler, a drastic 15 degrees celsius less then other cities in the region. It’s prestigious location 2,000 meters above sea level offers stunning views of the canyon (it is the highest five star resort in the Middle East).
We chose to drive from Dubai since this was our first time to Oman and we also wanted to explore the area during our weekend getaway. A 5 hour plus drive, the plus depends on the border crossing which we got stuck for 2 hours. The cost for crossing the border is 200 dirhams p.p. which covers exiting the UAE and entering Oman (a tip for expats is to fill out the visa request form before entering the queue, this will save you from queuing twice). Remember to have a copy of your car insurance which must cover Oman.
There is a checkpoint at the base of Hajar Mountain where they ensure everyone driving through has a 4×4, the roads are well paved but steep! As we drove higher and higher the temperature got cooler and cooler, clouds became more visible and sky blue. There were plenty of signs guiding us to Anantara.
What follows is hard to describe, the word magical comes to mind. The resort sits so elegantly on the mountain top, it is designed in a way to cohere with the natural surroundings. The exterior takes you back through time and I could not imagine it any other way. Traditional design is perfectly incorporated throughout, from the fort tower that is home to the stunning arabic restaurant Al Qalaa to the falaj style waterways seen through out the resort resembling the famous irrigation system still present in this part of Oman.
Finally settling down in our room that was beautifully decorated with local artwork and with a view worth cherishing! What a surprise to find a bottle of champagne, compliments of Anantara. A girl can never say no to a glass of bubbly (which I shared with hubby of course, life is better in two) while admiring the beautiful scenery from our balcony.
THE view that up until a few minutes back I had only seen on photos, looked way better in person. We quickly found a private spot for picnic just before sunset, a well deserved break after that long drive! We didn’t miss a chance to see each sunset and sunrise in many different locations during our stay.
A highlight is Diana’s Point, the famous viewpoint where the late Princess Diana of Wales visited back in 1986 for a picnic (I think we fit here so well since we chose to have a picnic close by before becoming aware of this fact.) Once you are there, you understand why this spot is so special and unique. A way to fully enjoy Diana’s Point is having a tailor made dinner which is available upon request. Whether a romantic or group dinner, a private setting will be organised along with your own private chef.
We loved spending our afternoons by the pool and when the weather got a bit chilly we warmed up in one of the two jacuzzis. Life doesn’t get better than this!
We tried most of their 6 restaurants which were all superb! Breakfast is served daily at Al Maisan restaurant located on the second floor with views of the canyon. We ate outdoors everyday, a privilege in the Gulf at this time of year! Fresh fruits, plenty of healthy choices, eggs to order, some sweets and a great cup of coffee. But what really made our dinning experience special each time was the service, every staff member was so friendly, attentive and knowledgable. This welcoming attitude seems so genuine and is represented in everyone that is part of Anantara, leaving for daily activities was a hard thing to do.
There are plenty of things to do in the area, in the morning we explored the nearby old villages and the abandoned stone village of Wadi Bani Habib. Anantara offers plenty of activities, the hike to the surrounding villages can be very educational as it is led by “mountain gurus,” rock climbing at the edge of the resort, morning yoga at Diana’s Point and archery amongst a few other options.
Now what really caught us by surprise was the abandoned village of Birkat. We chose to see it on our last day, on the way back to Dubai. Finding it was a bit tricky since there are no signs to help us, but we did a bit of research before hand so we could have an idea to where it was. A very narrow road took us to the entrance where we found a car park and not one single person in sight. We climbed till the very top, where we had a great view of the area! I have never seen so many palm trees, bright and green amongst the many abandoned houses, a contrast too beautiful for words.
Oman and Anantara has truly surpassed all our expectations, we can’t wait to return and explore more of this beautiful country!
Good news is that GCC residents can enjoy a discounted rate upon booking directly at Anantara.