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Living It Up in Muscat, Oman – Pure Luxury at the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa

February 19, 2017

The Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, sitting just 20 minutes out of Muscat, represents pure luxury in the Sultanate of Oman.  So much more than just a resort, there is no delaying denying where you are – this hotel offers world-class hospitality, the most incredible Omani backdrop and a range of services to ensure your holiday is one you’ll never forget.

Arabian perfection at its finest.  

Don’t take our word for it though – read on to find out exactly why we fell in love with Muscat’s Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa.

A First Impression to Remember

Occasionally a sight takes your breath away.  Our first visit to Barr Al Jissah, Oman, in September of 2015 did exactly that.

Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa Oman review

From our perch atop sheer cliffs, azure blue waves washing gently upon the shore, we couldn’t help but wonder  – why don’t more people know about the beauty of Oman and its people?

Unsurprisingly, word is spreading!  This year it was recognised as one of the top 10 countries to visit in 2017 (by Lonely Planet, no less).

As we stood, then and there, we agreed that not only would we return to Muscat, but that the Shangri-La was precisely where we had to stay.

On our second visit back to this gorgeous part of North-Eastern Oman, we made good on our promise to return and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Shangri-La exceeded all of our already-high expectations.

Arriving at The Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa

As you would expect, check-in was a pleasure thanks to friendly and efficient staff who graciously showed us around this touch of paradise (even if it was ours only for a weekend).

The unmistakable smell of oud floating through the air, glistening marble and intricate, ornate archways and ceilings; it was clear we had arrived somewhere special.

Perfectly situated in between the Sea of Oman and a dramatic mountainous backdrop, the five-star Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa spans an impressive 124 acres of prime Arabian real estate, providing guests with three unique but cohesive accommodation experiences.

640 beautifully appointed rooms and suites are spread between the exclusive Al Husn Hotel (The Castle), Al Bandar Hotel (The Town) and the family-oriented hotel, Al Waha (The Oasis), ensuring that all guests, whether visiting for business or pleasure, are perfectly catered for.

Every element of each hotel has been carefully considered; from the perfect beachfront setting to the Omani architecture, the incredible hospitality to the well matched outlets on site – it’s all designed for maximum enjoyment.

“When combining our delivery of Shangri-La’s legendary hospitality from the heart together with the warm welcome and hospitality of the Omani people, it is an unbeatable combination.” – Juergen Doerr, General Manager, Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, Sultanate of Oman

Dining Options

A range of world-class restaurants, cafes and bars are spread between the three hotels, providing 21 different food and beverage experiences, each one unique.

Over the course of our stay, we visited three different restaurants and were delighted by all of them.  With pricing much more affordable than expected, we were able to treat ourselves to delicious food without ever thinking about our wallets which is always appreciated.

Sultanah

Each morning we enjoyed breakfast out on the deck of the Sultanah restaurant.  Included alongside the expansive buffet was an à la carte menu far exceeding anything we’ve come across at another included hotel breakfast – freshly poached snapper and steak cooked to perfection – nothing was too much trouble.

Circles

Looking for a casual late lunch we made ourselves at home outside by one of the Shangri-La’s beautiful pools.  As we’d hoped, lunch was tasty and filling – we were pleasantly surprised by just how large the portions and how reasonable the prices were.  A clear winner if you’re looking for a relaxed bite to eat during the day whilst enjoying beautiful views.

Asia

With options abound we settled on a visit to Asia for dinner – the collection of Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Chinese dishes were too good to resist.  Each plate was delicious, perfectly cooked and seasoned and again, served in generous portions.  The satay skewers were amongst the best I’ve ever tasted and Nathan couldn’t stop raving about the crab salad he had as an entree.  Warm and comforting, the food at Asia was exactly what we were after.

Unwinding at the Shangri-La

Once you’ve enjoyed a tasty bite to eat, there are plenty of options to help you relax including

  • two private beaches
  • six freshwater swimming pools (literally some of the nicest we’ve ever seen!)
  • mini golf
  • four tennis courts
  • a health club and spa
  • a well appointed kids zone (let them go to town whilst you unwind)
  • a marina and dive centre
  • water sports including kayaking, snorkelling and sailing
  • an Omani heritage village and
  • a library.

With so much to do, the relatively isolated location of the resort is not a problem in the slightest.  Both Nathan and I are generally active holiday-seekers and there was more than enough for us to do without stepping foot out of the resort.  We had in fact planned to head into town but opted to stay within the complex instead, making the most of the options on offer there.

How many resorts have you been to where you can ride a camel and Arabian horse along the beach or drift from one gorgeous hotel to another along a lazy river?

Al Husn – An Exclusive, Adults-Only Haven

Though we explored all three of the Shangri-La hotels during the course of our stay, we loved returning to Al Husn, the most exclusive part of the resort.

As guests at Al Husn, everyone is treated like absolute royalty – to be frank, it’s been hard adjusting back to the real world again.

All guests of the hotel enjoy a complimentary minibar (with an assortment of soft drinks, juices and imported beers), snacks, fresh fruit and flowers in their room, all replenished daily.  In addition, Al Husn visitors receive adults-only access to the resort’s private beach and the most incredible infinity pool, perched high above the clifftop.  After a day spent (as busy or relaxed as you please), invitations to high tea and and pre-dinner drinks & canapés are extended, all at no additional cost.

Absolutely everything is thought of at Al Husn.

Need a ride somewhere? Golf carts are on hand to help out (though we chose to walk and take in our gorgeous setting in a more leisurely way).

Relaxing by the pool?  Pick up an individually packed chilly-bin, filled with cool water, juice and Evian facial spray.

Heaven on earth!

Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa Oman review

Our Room a Al Husn Deluxe Seaview Room

Our room was as spacious as it was gorgeous – everything you would expect from a five-star resort like the Shangri-La.

With a generous dressing room, bathroom (which included a powerful rain-shower and a full bathtub and a selection of amazing L’Occitane products) and lounge area there was more than enough space to relax inside our room.  Combine that with a fully equipped desk, complimentary wi-fi, Bose sound system, wide-screen TV with a wide selection of international channels, a comfortable king-size bed and fresh fruit and flowers topped up daily (oh and remember that complimentary mini-bar?), it would have been hard to find a reason to actually leave the room in a lesser resort!

Would we Return to the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa?

Without hesitation!

There’s something about Oman that just steals your heart away – if you’ve not considered visiting, add this beautiful country to your bucket-list now.  While you’re at it, book yourself a room at the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa – hotels just don’t get better.

When all was said and done, we left for the second time with a promise to return and no doubt, we will.


If you’re headed to Oman, be sure to pin this post for future reference.  This is a resort that you don’t want to miss out on!

Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa Oman review Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa Oman review

Thank you to the Shangri-La for so generously hosting the majority of our stay.  As always, all thoughts expressed are our own.  

Supplementary photographs have been supplied by the Shangri-La – unfortunately the weekend that we visited, the GCC experienced one of the few storms of the season.  The grey skies didn’t represent the gorgeous weather that’s typical of the region year-round and we wanted to show you exactly how it looked on our first visit.

Middle East Oman

5 Reasons You Need to Visit Oman Right Now!

February 5, 2017
5 reasons you need to visit Oman right now

For many, Oman is an unknown quantity.  Located in the Middle East – bordering the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Yemen – with gorgeous shorelines provided thanks to the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea, it’s not a destination that often registers on travellers’ bucket-lists.

Oman should, however, be top of your list!

This diverse country is quietly unassuming – its people humble and open. Oman offers travellers so much and though some are starting to cotton on, it’s not too late to visit before mass tourism discovers this fantastic part of the Middle East.


1. The Omanis

Sometimes you visit a country where the people just blow you away.  Oman is one of them! The Omanis are warm, hospitable and friendly – they really do an amazing job of representing their country.

From the second you cross into Oman, you’ll be struck by just how welcoming the locals are.  The country itself is stunning but even if it wasn’t, Oman would be worth visiting for the people alone.


2. Beautiful Mosques and Cultural Treasures

Regardless of your beliefs, there is no denying that the mosques found in Omani are absolutely gorgeous.  As long as you’re respectfully dressed and there outside of the main days/times of worship, you’ll be welcomed into their mosques with open arms… and if you think they’re beautiful on the outside, wait until you see them inside!

The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and Mohammed Al Ameen Mosque are our top picks in Muscat and Sultan Qaboos Mosque Sohar is well worth a visit if you’re further up North.

Whilst you’re in Muscat, Oman’s capital city, make time to stop in at the traditional souq to pick up some local trinkets.  Even if you’re not one for souvenirs, it’s well worth a visit.


3. Diverse Landscapes

Striking Beaches

With over 1,700 kilometres of coastline, it’s unsurprising that Oman has so many memorable beaches.

Our favourite stretch of coastline is found on the East coast from Dibab to Tiwi.  With white sand and pebbles as far as the eye can see, sheltered bays and azure water, you could almost be forgiven for thinking you’ve arrived on a tropical island somewhere in the Caribbean.

Alternatively, from Muscat, hire a car and drive around to the Shangri-La – only 20 minutes from the city, you’ll find yourself in Barr Al Jissah looking down at the most gorgeous beaches, nestled in between sheer rock-faces, looking out to the Al Hajar Mountains.  The resort itself, made up of three hotels, is the pinnacle of luxury and a destination in itself!

Towering Mountains

Oman’s landscape is dominated by rugged mountains, the most impressive of which is Jebel Shams (Mountain of the Sun).  At 3009m, this area is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of Arabia thanks to the steep canyons formed by Wadi Ghul – some are over 1000m deep.

Jebel Shams Oman itineraryWild Wadis

Wadi’s are found throughout Oman.  The word has it’s origins in the Arabic and Hebrew languages and means ‘valley’ in English.  Wadis vary from dry riverbeds to those with gorgeous green-tinged water flowing through them.  Regardless, they are well worth your time.

Wadi Shab is our favourite – after hopping on a small boat to cross the widest part of the river, you’ll walk for approximately 45 minutes up the riverbed before wading into the river and swimming the last 15 minutes to a little waterfall inside the cave found at the end of the wadi.  Amazing!

Wadi Shab Oman Itinerary


4. Wildlife

Turtles

Oman is home to five of the seven different species of turtles, many of which frequently migrate across hundreds of kilometres to Oman’s beaches to lay their eggs.  These waters provide sanctuary to the common Green Turtle along with the Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Olive Ridley and Leatherback turtles.  Though there are multiple spots throughout the country where you might spot them, your best chances are at the Ras Al Hadd Turtle Reserve.

Whale Sharks

The gentle giant of the seas, whale sharks pass through Omani waters in greatest numbers in September and October.  As the largest fish in the ocean, they are filter feeders harmless to people.  At up to 10 metres long, they can be of similar length to a bus!

Camels

Is there an animal more synonymous with the Middle East than the camel?  Oman has them in droves so you’ll have no problem snapping a camel selfie should you feel that way inclined.  Without doubt, they’re my favourite of all the local animals.


5. Beautiful Weather

Depending on where you live in the world, you’re unlikely to experience weather as consistent as Oman receives.  Though it does cool down in winter and they experience some rain, showers are relatively limited and for much of the year the weather is fairly predictable.

Of course, summer in the Middle East does get remarkably hot so for this reason, we’d recommend visiting outside of the hottest months of May to October.


Oman is absolutely fabulous and I feel a little like we’re letting the cat out of the bag with this one.  A country as unique as this, with people as fantastic as this, doesn’t deserve to be hidden away though.

It was hard limiting this post to five reasons too – food, safety, great driving – this country offers so much.  If there’s one Middle Eastern country you add to your travel plans (and you should), make it Oman and make it soon.

Love Oman or thinking about going?  Pin one of the following interests so other people catch on too!

Thank you to the fabulous bloggers and photographers for the use of their photos.  Please support them by clicking through to their sites on their photos above.

Accommodation Luxury Middle East Oman Reviews Sohar

Spoilt for Choice – Reviewing the Radisson Blu Sohar, Oman

December 11, 2016
Radisson Blu Sohar Review Oman

Generally when we book a holiday, we book based on the location and activities we hope to do in that area; for the most part, our accommodation is something that fits in around our other requirements.  This time though, we decided to let our accommodation be the guide and in doing so, booked in to stay in Sohar, a small coastal town on the Gulf of Oman, at the Radisson Blu.

Approximately three hours from Abu Dhabi (or four hours if you have our misfortune at the border) the Radisson Blu Sohar sits on the Omani shoreline.  The hotel is so new, the driveway isn’t quite finished, but don’t let that put you off – once you make it off the main road and enter the hotel, you’ll slip into a blissful state of relaxation, we guarantee it.

We were warmly greeted in the foyer and after a smooth check-in, made our way up to our room to begin our much anticipated long-weekend of downtime.

Our Room at the Radisson Blu Sohar

Imagine our surprise to find the most delicious tray of dessert treats in our room – mini mango smoothies, berry macrons and chocolate-dipped strawberries. We knew instantly that we’d come to the right place – an hotel that greets us with sugary treats is onto a good thing in our books!  It was a great sign of things to come as the rest of the weekend turned into an absolute whirlwind of the most amazing food – so much so that we’re going to dedicate a post to the restaurants individually – stay tuned.

Tearing ourselves away from our sweet surprise, we found our room was spacious, clean and beautifully appointed.  The artwork throughout gave a nod to the  hotel’s Arabian setting, whilst remaining modern and the materials throughout were of a high quality.  The wifi was complimentary and of good speed and the TV had a range of international channels.  Even the small details were thought of, with USB chargers in sockets and international plugs installed directly into the walls – for people travelling with plugs from all over the world, it was fantastic not to have to fish out our converters from the depths of our bags.

The bathroom provided a little oasis of calm – a beautiful big bath (bath salts included) and a rain shower – and included all the bath products you could ever need for a weekend away, including a toothbrush, razor and lotions.

Around the Hotel

The Lobby

We’ve never been ones to sit in the lobby of a hotel but the addition of a cafe and beautiful big windows made the Radisson’s lobby a great place to spend some time.  From the balcony you can watch the world go by below – Omani families enjoying the beach, quad bikes ripping up and down the beach and if you’re lucky, even a prized bull being taken for a walk and swim along the shoreline.

The Pools

We were absolutely spoilt for choice when it came to the pools at the Radisson – with five to choose from (including a separate one for the kids) and a waterfall area, you’ll be sure to find your favourite.  The water temperature was different in each of them, with our preference being the pool with the swim-up bar (it was a little warmer).  If you’d prefer to lounge by the side of the pool, there are plenty of sun loungers available to you also.

Unwinding at the Spa

However you prefer to relax, you’ll find an option to suit at the Sohar Radisson Blu.  Both Nathan and I blissed out over the course of an hour-long massage – aromatherapy oils, candle light and a full sixty minutes of pure relaxation.  There are numerous options available including hot rock and sports massage and body scrubs, though we were both more than happy with our aromatherapy oil massages.

Once you’re finished with your treatment, you’re welcome to use the facilities which include a steam room, sauna and spa pool before sitting down to enjoy a freshly poured cup of tea.

If your idea of looking after yourself is working out, you’re in luck as the Radisson Blu Sohar has a fully equipped gym.  Though we can’t vouch for the quality of the equipment ourselves (we were too busy eating, relaxing and swimming) it looked top-of-the-line and ready to put even the fittest of guests through their paces.

Why You Should Visit Oman

Oman is like a breath of fresh air – the people are warm and welcoming and nothing is a problem.  Throughout the region we’ve experienced great hospitality but Oman is another step up – even crossing through the border the guards asked how we were (with big, beaming smiles) and kindly pointed us in the right direction.  As much as I love the UAE, we can’t say we’ve ever experienced a greeting or farewell like that on the Emirati side of the border.

The UAE’s freindly neighbour has a lovely relaxed nature about it which is a nice reprieve from the hustle and bustle of Abu Dhabi.  It’s down-to-earth and if you go looking, you’ll almost certainly spot the local camels, goats and donkeys amongst the rugged landscape.

Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway from within the region (it would be an easy drive from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Al Ain, Muscat or Nizwa) or need a place to stop off before continuing on further afield, the Radisson Blu is a great choice.  We had fairly high expectations already given the reputation of the brand, but were excited to find that our expectations were far surpassed.  The Radisson Blu is Sohar’s only five-star hotel and there is no doubt they’ve earned every one of their stars.  Don’t take our word for it though – pay the Radisson Blu Sohar a visit yourselves!


Radisson Blu Sohar Oman review

Our first experience of Radisson Blu’s hospitality certainly won’t be our last.  In fact, we’re already booked our next stay in and can’t wait to experience the same Radisson Blu hospitality at their Saga property in Iceland.

Thank you to the team at Radisson Blu Sohar for so generously hosting us.  As always, all thoughts are our own.

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