Set amid towering mountains, surrounded by raw nature is the exclusive Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort in Oman. Kalyani Prasher reminisces about her visit to this hidden jewel.
Luxury comes in various shapes and sizes. Some are obvious—rich linen, gilded furniture, fine wine, and scented creams that make your hands feel like satin. And then there are the luxuries that are less tangible, almost ethereal in nature, yet more precious for it—the luxury of space, of an unobstructed view, of clear blue skies, of discovering another culture and cuisine, of living in a world totally different from the one you inhabit. This is the luxury of escape. It was at the Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort in Oman that all these luxuries came together in flawless harmony to create a fascinating and, indeed, spectacular world— a world I was happy to explore one long weekend in early December.
As we drove out of Muscat along Route 15, heading towards the Green Mountain, or Al Jabal Al Akhdar, the road stretched endlessly in front of us, winding its way through the rocky Al Hajar mountain range. The sky is so blue, the mountains so tall and stark against it, and the road so smooth that you don’t feel the two-hour journey at all. Here, I encountered another kind of luxury: the luxury of no people. All along the route, I saw maybe ten cars and never more than two together. Driving up the ragged mountain, I began to wonder what kind of hotel I would find up there—or rather how can there possibly be a hotel in the middle of this vast rocky emptiness. I was not quite prepared for the answer. The elegant resort impresses from the moment it appears before you.
Built to resemble an Omani fort, its pleasingly subdued, mud coloured, low-slung, and expansive architecture blends seamlessly with the terrain—the serene vista, set against an illimitable horizon, proving to be an instant balm for my tired eyes. All through my stay, the sky in Oman remained an unmarred, stunning deep blue—a rare luxury for a traveller from Delhi. The villas at the resort are large and luxurious. The Omani heritage evident in the property’s architecture is worth admiring at leisure, the many restaurants off er a variety of gourmet experiences, and the spa makes for perfect indulgence. The real king here, however, is the view. Built at a height of 2,000 metres on the Green Mountain, the resort sits along the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Middle East, surrounded by the weather-withered cliffs of Al Hajar range— the panorama is simply unforgettable.
With that in mind, it wasn’t long before I made my way to Diana Point, named after Lady Diana who came here in 1986 to admire this very view. Situated at one end of the hotel’s boundary, the point hangs, seemingly in mid-air, just above the canyon. It was here I experienced the most beautiful, 360-degree sunset I would ever see. As the sun made its journey home, it turned red, then orange, and then pink, before finally sinking behind the mountains. It left me… enthralled. At night, the stars came out, and the sun’s colourful brushstrokes were replaced by sparkling diamonds sprinkled across an ink-black canvas.
While you can enjoy the scenic landscape from anywhere in the resort—the infinity pool looks out to the mountains, the villas frame them, as well, as do strategically located sit-outs throughout the resort—my favourite thing to do was to take a cocktail from Bella Vista, the Italian restaurant, and sit at Diana Point till it was dark. With nothing to obstruct the view as far as the eye can see, you can spend hours there, imagining this spectacular creation is just for you. The food options at the hotel are quite delightful, too. Apart from Italian, there’s Al Maisan, the all-day café where I ate breakfast every day and where you can get a mix of world’s cuisines (including Indian). Al Qalaa is for Arabic grills; the restaurant has a lovely Moroccan-style lounge upstairs—in fact, the décor throughout the hotel is truly remarkable, generously infused with glasswork, as well as traditional motifs and materials. Al Qalaa is where you can try traditional Omani food, such as succulent grilled meats, pickles, and dips served with khubz bread, a fluffier version of pita.
As the sun sets over the horizon, make your way to Al Shourfa, the shisha lounge, for a night out, Arabic style.Of the limitless luxuries on off er at the resort, I would put the hammam experience at the top. Hand-cut Moroccan tiles glint in the soft light as you enter this haven and allow yourself to be pampered. After two hours of cleansing, steaming, soaking, and massages, you will emerge with a renewed zest of life. To intensify the experience, head to the spa after an outdoor activity; you will relish the bliss of your aches and pains melting away. I recommend the rose oil massage—rose water and rose oil are specialities at the Green Mountain.
At the end of the day, I would return to my villa and find even more things to delight in. It came with a private infinity pool—yes, with a view of the canyon and Al Hajar. With a day-bed by the pool, an outdoor shower, and complete privacy—well, the mountains look on, but I doubt they carry tales—I spent most of the time outside, just absorbing the beauty around me. Through a gap in the mountains, I could see all the way down to Nizwa, a wonderful town with a buzzing souk, about an hour’s drive from the resort. But what I remember the most is lying back on my recliner, taking a deep breath, and savouring the many luxuries—earthly and otherworldly—of Al Jabal Al Akhdar.
Try abseiling under expert guidance.
The highly qualified instructors at the hotel take you down a near-vertical rock face using a harness and rope. Once you go down, the only way up is a steep climb.
A softer adventure is the Via Ferrata.
Here, you walk along the edge of the cliff while fastened securely to a rope. The views are amazing.
The hotel organises evenings for stargazing.
You can spend hours admiring nature’s masterpiece on one of the dark terraces of the hotel, with dinner and wine