Located in the southern province of Dhofar, the Anantara’s Al Baleed Resort is more of a mission to get to than Oman’s largest city, Muscat but the extra hour and a half hour internal flight brings you unrivalled peace, quiet and unique charm.
Discerning holidaymakers in search of hidden gems with cultural treasures will be drawn to Salalah, a region famed for frankincense, coconut-fringed beaches and all round breath-taking natural beauty.
Situated on the Arabian Sea, it is considerably more tropical than the north (where well known hotels The Chedi, Al Bustan, Shangri La are to be found), nothing like as commercialised (you will find camels roaming the main roads) and nowhere near as hot. In the summer months it is splendidly green – thanks to monsoon rain – making it popular with residents from other Middle East countries craving some respite from the heat.
From Oman’s Sultan (who originates from the city and has several immaculate homes there) who has ruled peacefully since the 70s following a coup against his father, to its close affinity with frankincense, Salalah’s history and heritage is well worth exploring.
The hotel is guarded by the Dhofar mountains and edged by the shimmering blue waters of the Arabian sea. Designed with the simple grandeur of the region’s iconic coastal fortress in mind, the resort features lush tropical gardens, coconut trees and countless water features that give it – like the city itself – a genuine sense of tranquillity.
The accommodation offers options for all budgets, from entry level rooms to beach front villas, but the design aesthetic running through every category is undeniably luxe yet a haven from the Western world. But it’s in the pool villas (all 88 of them) where guests benefit from butler services, private pools (the first of their kind in Salalah) and spacious living areas.
It’s no surprise that with a flight time of little more than an hour Al Baleed is fast becoming a favourite with Dubai expats and wealthy locals looking for a boutiquey break away from the razzle dazzle and fast pace of modern life. And then there are the well-informed Europeans and Brits who have heard this resort is worth the journey.
Children can expect a warm welcome from the staff who come from all over from the West Indies to the Philippines. Whether they're icing biscuits, making binoculars at kids club or dancing to the evening’s live band, children are well looked after leaving their parents ample time to relax.
Many things make Al Baleed special. There’s the spa – an oasis of calm featuring a traditionally-inspired hammam and rejuvenating experiences that take you on a holistic journey for the mind, body and soul. (The Frankincense Ritual has to be experienced to be believed).
Then there’s the food. There are three dining venues, none of which do fine dining and in this relaxed setting, that’s a good thing. There’s Sakalan, the all-day option which offers seafood barbeques and street-food nights as well as breakfast and lunch menus too; Mekong, the asian fusion restaurant that does everything from phad thai and the freshest, mintiest Vietnamese spring rolls to shaking beef and duck pancakes; and last but not least, Al Mina, a relaxed Mediterranean beach bar and restaurant where you’ll find jumbo prawns, quinoa salad and delicious steaks and burgers. For those wanting a bit of romance there are private beach barbeques and cinema screenings under the Arabian night.
And then there’s the beach: soft, white, pristine and spanning 250 metres. At dusk when both the sun and the temperature go down, whether you’re reading a book, riding a horse or drinking a cocktail with your toes in the sand, this is the real jewel in Al Baleed’s crown.
For more information on Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara visit salalah.anantara.com
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