PALATIAL PERFECTION

A range of vibrant cultural experiences, recreational and rejuvenation activities amidst the natural splendour of a tranquil, tropical retreat was just the ticket we needed. This, alongside World-class five-star services allowed for a magical stay at Shangri-La Al Husn Resort and Spa, Muscat…

The provenance and history of the Shangri-La group is particularly apt when taking in the splendorous setting on your drive from the airport to the Resort. e mythical place described by James Hilton in his novel Lost Horizon inspired Robert Kuok to name his ’new’ hotel after it. e vast rock formations, outcrops and chards which surround the resort are breathtaking and certainly have an element of the mythical, if not magical , about them. A great deal of thought and time has been taken when choosing a setting in which to create this resort.

My experience did not begin as I approached the resort but rather days earlier when I received my personalised itinerary. It not only whet my appetite for my stay but made me feel that my individual needs were being addressed and that each element was bespoke and thoughtfully arranged. The lobby area is an absolute triumph of both architecture and taste. It perfectly combines vastness and luxury and was reminiscent of the serene open spaces found within Grand Mosques all over the Middle East. Much of the ‘need to know’ information had already been dispensed through my itinerary prior to arrival so I was able to gaze , in awe, as I was shown around the resort discovering a succession of beautiful spaces, courtyards and vistas. Shangri La Al Husn is Oman’s only private , adult resort and has recently been re ned in order to ensure that guests can indulge in all aspects of the nest of Omani hospitality. e views from the infinity pool and the private Mahhara Beach would rival those of Santorini at sunset. The sense of seclusion and tranquillity which the setting imparts is second to none.

The phrase ‘breakfast at your leisure’ illustrates the overriding philosophy of the Al Husn resort which is to induce a sense of relaxation and revitalisation. The Sultanah restaurant plays host to breakfast each morning. A riot of colour, flavour and choice greeted us. The vast platters and service stations allord guests the opportunity to eat as healthily or indulgently as their mood desires. The décor is inspired by the rock and water outside and is a fusion of colour and light which exudes freshness. Throughout my travels and gastronomic experiences I would struggle to place another resort’s ‘iftar’ above it. To coin a phrase I had certainly breakfasted like a king or rather Sultan – though I doubted that dinner would be that of a pauper!

“The lobby area is an absolute triumph of both architecture and taste.”

During the course of the day the Mahhara Beach Bar and Al Muheet terrace bar entice guests with a selection of salads, sandwiches and freshly caught ame grilled seafood. Tropical drinks alongside an impressive selection of libations are also served throughout the day overlooking the Bay of Jissah. At 16.00 Afternoon Tea is served on the terrace outside the Sultanah Restaurant. The nest of silverware holds delicate pastries and sandwiches and guests are able to choose from a selection of teas skilfully infused by your hosts.

As early evening was now upon us we happened upon the Courtyard area where all manner of aperitifs were being served. e enclosed courtyard with elegant water features and archways which frame snippets of the views over the Gulf of Oman was intimate and alluring. Each finely tuned dining experience and assemblage at the resort really showcases both the location and the quality of the facilities without feeling staged.

And so we turned to the teller of tales of 1001 nights, Shahrazad, for dinner. I was immediately taken with the illusion of stars in the night sky above me which was created with thousands of tiny LED lights. The lighting cast shadows upon the highly polished marble floors and traditional lanterns, kettles and shishas create a sense of Moroccan  magnificence. In addition to traditional Moroccan tagines, meat and seafood dishes the restaurant also presents diners with the nest Lebanese grills and Omani specialities. Most would consider taste to be the sense most used when sitting down to dinner however, scientists increasingly believe that sight is vastly more important and the setting in which food is enjoyed can itself actually enhance the flavour. Clearly those behind this restaurant concept had heard about this. Shahrazad’s intricate styling and menu choices will delight and satiate diners whilst exhibiting the awless standards which permeate every area at the Shangri La.

So many second days staying in beautiful hotels begin with first day breakfasts – but not here. Each day saw us embarking on a new route to ‘ avourtown’ with incredible dishes along the way. I could find no fault with preparation, quality, variety or service. Stunning. A fitting precursor for our Spa experience. Hareer (meaning silk in Arabic) is the first L’Occitane Spa in Oman and was designed to deliver a Mediterranean experience. e natural tones and shades of lavender are evocative of the colours of Provence where oil infusions were first sold in local markets in the late 1970s and the iconic brand L’Occitane was founded. The oil sand treatments combine phyto-therapy and aromatherapy in a luxurious and authentic way. At the time we were the first couple to enjoy the Omani Honey Heaven Treatment together. L’Occitane worked with Hareer Spa to create a bespoke product which is built around the properties of Omani honey. e softening scrub smoothed and soothed the skin and prepared us for the deep relaxing massage with oils further infused with Omani honey. The treatment was a journey of wellbeing leading to a sense of contentment and pure relaxation.

The resort is also able to offer guests full use of neighbouring Shangri-La resorts where you may choose to dine or partake of water sports, additional spa facilities and a vast beach. The plat de resistance at the neighbouring Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa resort is the opportunity to experience their Turtle Care Project. Hawksbill and Green Turtles have made the beach close to Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa resort their nesting ground. Resident full time Turtle Warden Mohammed Al Hasani ensures the safety of the nesting turtles and runs a full time education programme which guests can access. The first turtle release this year was on Sunday 15th April and we were fortunate enough to witness one of the most awe inspiring sights imaginable – the emergence of said baby turtles.

When considering how best to precis the highlights of my visit I hit a brick wall. At no point during my stay did one drink or meal or host surpass the rest. Everything was an unequivocal standard of excellence. Perhaps the best way is to mention the feeling of abject disappointment we felt as we grudgingly packed our cases and resigned ourselves to the fact that we must leave. As we bid farewell to the soaring escarpments and rugged coastline we thought of James Hilton’s mythical ‘Shangri La’ and agreed that he would be tipping his hat in approval. The Shangri-La Al Husn Resort & Spa, Muscat is one of those secrets you simply have to share as it is too good not to be enjoyed by all.

For more information please call: (968) 2477 6388 @shangrilaalhusn

www.shangri-la.com/muscat/alhusnresortandspa


 

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