(100)7 Nights In Oman – Al Bustan By Ritz Carlton & Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar

The Mysteries of Oman.

It was our first time visiting this Arabic country of which only recently, despite having sought out medical assistance in Leuven, Belgium, the long reigned and beloved Sultan passed away. Out of respect for the sultan there was no music playing anywhere we came making our stay a silent, yet peaceful one.

Arriving in the capital airport of Muscat you need to be careful for just one thing. We read rumours about taxi drivers charging triple prices and thus I was on my toes when we arrived trying to walk passed these guys as they can be pushy.
The app you might want to download is O-Taxi which can be seen as the Uber for Oman and always gives you the fair price. Nevertheless, while downloading the app a local told me it was not possible for those “Ubers” to get inside the airport for pick up, so we had to order one outside.
The most welcoming local offered to bring us there with his brother who was picking him up from the airport.
Mommin and Mukhtar, thank you for the ride and the great tips and advice!

Denzel Van Tilburg
Editor

After a good night sleep (we arrived pretty late) we enjoyed a full day at the pool whilst planning the rest of our trip a little since it was quite a last minute decision.
At dawn we headed for the first thing on our “To Do” list namely the Royal Opera House of Muscat. Only their Omani marble is resistant to the intense Arabic sun rays and weather conditions and makes for a marvellous picture as every tile is so clean it reflects its surroundings.

The inside is just as special as the outside walls if not better. Inspired by architecture from all over the world and ceilings filled with Swarovski crystals we stepped into, safe to say, the most astonishing entry hall I had ever laid eyes on. Together with the guided tour where you get to see all different kinds of rare instruments as well as the explanation of how the opera moves parts depending on the play that night, the Royal Opera House of Muscat made a very good impression on us and thus highly recommended.

The following morning we woke up early to head out to the bespoke Grand Mosque. After Chantal covered up her hair we entered the beautiful terrain of holy ground. Interesting facts of this place are that it is home of the 2nd largest Swarovski chandelier and the largest handmade praying carpet in the world. Worth a visit if you ask me!

Every corner of this place presents itself as an idealistic spot for a picture and so we did…

Shortly after the Grand Mosque we took a 30min drive from Muscat to Al Bustan Palace by Ritz-Carlton. A more majestic check in/welcome hall there is none. The 39meter high dome and 5.5 tonnes, 18meter long Swarovski chandelier makes you feel like you’re walking through the fairytale palace of Jasmin and Aladin.

After a warm welcome we were delighted to check into our room and found it to be overlooking the pool. Perfect to wake up and go for a morning swim underneath the palm trees to start the day.

Lunch time was at the poolside nearby the sea where we tried some of the local dishes and freshly caught fish. A soft sea breeze and the chirping birds made us sink away in our seats of joy and relaxation. A day at the pool well spend.

At the Al Bustan Palace there is a beach as far as the eye can see and not at all crowded so you can enjoy a walk along the coast in peace.

After a relaxing day of exploring the hotel we got ready for dinner at the Beach Pavilion Bar & Grill, their Beach view restaurant. We ordered a plate of fresh sea food and were surprised with the detail and presentation of the dish. A glass of white wine was raised on a lovely first day at Al Bustan Palace.

Waking up in our heavenly soft bed we prepared for a day at the Spa where we could leave our working stress behind for a bit. After a fruity breakfast we walked towards the Spa for our Jetlag recovery massage. The tone and intensity of the massage for me was perfect and we both enjoyed the tranquility of the environment.

After the Spa we enjoyed the impressive pool a little more and had some fun shooting!

We were indulged into an Indian Night at the Al Khiran where we explored different street foods, Indian flavours and finger licking deserts together with the warm and welcoming waiters and kitchen staff. We got a smile everywhere we looked, as you can tell by the picture…

The following morning we got roomservice for breakfast, I Live For This Stuff! The Classic Salmon Benedict on a toast, so good.

Sadly we didn’t have a lot of time to enjoy it as we had to get ready for the snorkelling and dolphin watching trip. Only a 10 min. drive to the local harbour and weather was good. Time to step on board of our vessel and go on an adventure. Not long after departure we were treated with a pod of dolphins and their little ones, some even came quite close to the boat which made me want to jump in the water… nevertheless this was in the deep blue so we weren’t allowed to swim until we reached shallow waters again. Once there I was amazed with the underwater world of Oman. A huge amount of coral and fish everywhere I looked. We even saw 2 green turtles who swam alongside us for a short while, amazing feeling!

Nevertheless you can see the bleaching of the coral even here due to global warming and I can only hope the Omani people will be able to preserve the beauty of their submarine life for the years to come.

After our lovely stay at Al Bustan Palace we decided to rent a car and head for the Eastern part of Oman, namely Wadi Shab. The company where we got a vehicle from is named NAB and for just a small extra fee the car was delivered to the hotel and can be dropped off at the airport which we did as we didn’t want to waste our precious time in Oman. After a 3 hour drive we reached our Airb&b we sought out nearby the Wadi as we wanted to go early around 6:30AM in order to avoid tourists. At the meeting point we met up with Khalfan of Wadi Shab Adventures for what was about to become quite the experience. During the 40min breathtaking walk through the dry area of the valley we got to know our guide a little better and noticed the love he had for his country and it’s nature. Once we reached the water we continued onward by swimming and climbing and you can leave your personal stuff behind, don’t worry it’s safe and the Omani people can be trusted.

Soon I realised I could not have done this without a guide as they know every rock and slippery place by heart and really provide safe passage to reach the final destination. Mind that to reach the waterfall you have to be a good swimmer and not be claustrophobic as the passage gets pretty small and barely fits your head. Nevertheless it’s totally worth it and once you reach it you even get to jump off a cliff into the crystal clear waters of Wadi Shab, if you dare… (for a a more visual experience you can check out our highlights of Oman on Instagram)

Nearby Wadi Shab is the Bimmah Sinkhole, a kind of natural pool that was created when the soft limestone collapsed and created this impressive hole in the ground. Perfect for a quick swim and to escape the Omani heat.

In case you want to go a little off road you can also include Wadi Al Arbeieen into your trip. It’s an hour drive from the Sinkhole and is quite adventurous. Sadly we still had a long way to go and thus had to leave fast if we still wanted to reach Nizwa by nightfall. Sneak peak in our highlights of Oman again 😉 !

We booked a last minute room in The Golden Tulip in Nizwa and quite frankly the room was absolutely not ok. No warm water and very old and deteriorated furniture , in short very overpriced for what you get. But let’s not dive into the negative aspects of the trip and move forward to the best part.

The following morning we drove all the way up the steep mountains to about 2000m above sea level where one of the worlds highest resorts lies , Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar. This place offers Omani splendour in the most breathtaking of natural settings and for sure was going to be yet another highlight of our stay. We started off with Lunch at Al Baha in the square courtyard before initiating our swift hotel tour as sunset was already upon us and we wouldn’t want to miss it. Quick change and GO.

 

Just walking up towards the main pool I already noticed the magic that was about to take place with the sun setting on the horizon. We quickly set up the tripod, took off our clothes, dove in the water and took in the colourful horizon views of the Green Mountain. Yes Please!!

After the sun had vanished the cold took over as we are in winter season and high up in the mountains. We indulged ourselves in the hot tub near the pool and stayed till the stars took over the skies.

After warming up we went for dinner in the Al Maisan restaurant with an all global kitchen buffet. The desert here was just finger-licking and a treat for the eye. After a cosy evening we took a walk underneath the stars to our room and fell asleep in the most soft bed overlooking the valley of the Green Mountain.

Carpe Diem, Seize the day was my motto when the soft light woke me up around 6 in the morning. I took out my camera and went out to shoot the hotel while everyone was still asleep. I had some alone time at the platform on the verge of the Cliff where Princess Diana once stood, stargazing and drifting away in thoughts.

I waited for Chantal to fully wake up after which we headed out for breakfast and met up with Mahir. After a lovely start of the day we got to explore the three bedroom Royal Mountain Villa.

Unparalleled in space and prestige amongst resorts in Oman, this one-of-a-kind two-storey villa provides exclusivity and spectacular views. the luxurious living area leads up to a stone terrace that extends to the infinity pool overlooking the valley.

We ordered lunch in the room to fully enjoy tis majestic gem in the mountains. How is that for a valentine’s date ^^ Take a look!

Departure time was catching up on us and we still wanted to visit the Nizwa Fort thus we had to take our leave and say goodbye to Anantara and it’s lovely staff.

After a one hour drive we arrived at the Fort just before twilight. We ran up the stairs and were just in time to capture our final shot of our trip. And it turned out quite well if you ask me, what do you think? 😀

Thank you Oman, you were great!

 

 

 

Ritz-Carlton: https://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/oman/al-bustan/rooms-suites

Anantara: https://www.anantara.com/en/jabal-akhdar 

Car rental:  http://nabrentacar.com/

Wadi Shab Adventures ask for guide Khalfan: whatsapp +968 9970 9304

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