Stunning Oman

Heidi Kemsley on 01 May 2006
Oman had been a destination I had longed to visit for a while so was thrilled when finally I had the chance to visit in May 2006 for a quick weeks chillout. We travelled with Gulf Air from Heathrow on their then direct service to Muscat - however since taking this trip the only direct service now from the UK is with Oman Air from Gatwick. BA also have a very good option from Heathrow with a short touch-down in Abu Dhabi. Landing around 7am our private transfer soon whisked us away through Muscat to our hotel around 45 mins. away. The journey through Muscat was very interesting with wide streets, very clean and tidy with lots of green areas, not the dusty place I had imagined. We had chosen to stay at the newly opened Shangri-La Barr al Jissah, located on a stunningly beautiful, rugged coastline, set in 124 acres of landscaped gardens and pristine sandy bays. This hotel has 3 unique concept areas, Al Waha - family friendly, Al Bandar - more corporate feel and the 6* Al Husn with its sheer luxury and panoramic views across the resort. The driveway to the Al Husn entrance is impressive as you approach and concierge meet you with welcoming chilled juices while you check-in.

Our room was a Deluxe Sea-View with balcony which was huge with a large walk-in marble bathroom and furnished balcony overlooking the main beach. You have butler service here also which is great to get extra ice etc.... During our weeks stay we ate in most of the many restaurants on offer, my favourites being Sheherazade - an authentic Morrocan restaurant with an award winning chef, Sultanah - an amazing glass fronted restaurant overlooking the resort and Beit al Bahar which is built to look like an Omani fishing Dhow and serves the most wonderful choice of seafood, beachside. Pre-booking for these restaurants is recommended.

One of the highlights of our trip was watching Turtles coming up to the beaches at night to watch them lay their eggs in the deep sand. There is an in-house Turtle Ranger on hand who will call your mobile no; to let you know of either turtles laying eggs or baby hatchlings making their way back to the ocean. This invariably happens at night and is monitored closely by the ranger.

We took 2 local boat trips out from resort, the first to watch local Spinner Dolphins which was a lovely experience and the 2nd with local fishermen who dived down for lobster and then cooked them for us on a beach BBQ about an hour away from resort. The local Omanis are the most friendly of people and have the widest smiles. We also took a taxi down to another hotel The Chedi, close to Muscat. This hotel is more contemporary in its feel and look and mainly for couples. It has the most amazing show kitchens and is a dining experience.

Top tips Observe and respect the Omani customs when visiting Mosques and walking around outside your resort, covering arms and legs as this is a Muslim country.

Definately get out and about and see all that Oman has to offer - it is an intriguingly beautiful country with so much to see. A trip into the Hajar mountains by 4 Wheel Drive would be a must, sadly we didn't do this as time ran out - hopefully next time.