I spend HOURS looking for that perfect resort for the all important holiday and my better half always finds an issue when we get there. I found it in Shangri-La Al Husn Resort & Spa in Oman. It may be something as trivial as the temperature of the pool or something important like location and proximity to the beach. What if I told you that I have finally found the perfect adults only resort that will please newlyweds, nonagenarians and everyone in between…..
Standing majestically on a high point of the cliff overlooking the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Oman, Al Husn means castle in Arabic and you are made to feel like castle royalty from the moment you approach those carved wooden doors. Shangri-La Al Husn Resort & Spa ticks every perfect resort box and here’s why:
Ideal Location – Just 45 minutes from Muscat airport and 20 minutes from Muscat City, you will find the resort surrounded by the pristine waters of the Gulf of Oman in a bay set against a vivid mountainous backdrop. If you think about leaving this resort paradise, Muttrah Corniche and Port Sultan Qaboos are worth checking out for half a day and for shopping, Muttrah Souq is a must.
Luxury Rooms – Built in 2006, the whole resort is fairly new and more importantly feels new. There are just 180 rooms (the Deluxe rooms are largest entry level rooms in Muscat) and suites so the resort always feels like your own castle. My Deluxe Sea View room felt like I was the first person who had stayed there – immaculate 48 square metres of luxury with soft carpets, spacious bathroom and a generous balcony. The rooms throughout the resort are the only hotel rooms in Muscat with this close proximity to the sea which makes views all the better.
Complimentary offerings – This is what really differentiates Al-Husn from many other hotels and adds so much value to the experience. It really does come down to the small things and here there are three thoughtful offerings. In the room, a complimentary mini bar is stocked with water, juices, chocolate, beer and more and is replenished daily. Every afternoon, there is an afternoon tea on the terrace overlooking the sea and every evening, pre-dinner drinks and canapés at sunset in the central courtyard inspired by the Alhambra of Granada complete with a harpist.
Restaurants – There are two exclusive restaurants for Al-Husn guests, an Arabian experience and a fine dining option inspired by Oman’s most famous ship, the Sultanah. Every Thursday there is a jazz evening with an outdoor feast with a seafood buffet banquet followed by a choice of meat (VERY tender Australian Wagyu) and fish grilled on the BBQ.
A highlight was a discovery of Omani oysters which are large and full of flavour. You must also try Omani lobsters. These crustaceans are massive and so tender. No wonder they aren’t exported! As a guest at Shangri-La Al Husn, you also have access to 15 other dining venues across the other resorts next door.
Breakfast (which can be enjoyed indoor or outdoor) is upgraded at Al-Husn with a buffet and also an extensive a la carte menu. An Arabic breakfast is a delicious way to start the day with some ful medames (fava beans with cumin). Ask for some tahini and lemon and put this wonderful snack on some pitta bread.
Large beach – This is such an important focal point of a relaxing break. At Shangri-La Al Husn, there are not one but two soft sandy beaches. In Oman, there are no designated private beaches but the location of the hotel means that the only way to access the beach is by sea so privacy is assured. From sunrise till around 4pm, go to the main beach which is 100 metres long and you also have access to the other part of the adjacent Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa which has another 500 metre beach. On the main beach, you can experience a camel ride too. After 4pm, as an Al Husn guest you have access to the sunset beach to catch every last ray of sun.
Infinity pool – A large heated infinity pool (and jacuzzi) with sea views and plenty of sun lounge options (and an outdoor library) is an idyllic setting. As well as sunbeds, there are also large double beds with comfy cushions so you don’t even need to move. The second you arrive and throughout the day, you are greeted with a smile and a cool box of ice filled goodies including water, juice and a facial mist. Just when you least expect it, friendly staff bring out fruit and ice cream to keep you refreshed throughout the day.
Turtle sanctuary – The resort has a dedicated turtle beach and runs a Turtle Care Project to protect endangered hawksbill and green turtle species native to Oman which is complimentary to all guests. Turtle season falls between March and September and there are just five nesting sites in Oman. Turtles religiously return to the resort’s beach to lay their eggs with over 4000 hatchlings last year.
Shangri-La’s dedicated turtle ranger Mohammed has been nurturing these turtles for 15 years and patrols the resort’s beaches at night, checking that mother turtles can nest in peace and that hatchlings make it to sea. Best of all, you can visit the dedicated turtle eco centre to meet Mohammed every day AND if you leave your number with him you can even be alerted when the hatchings happen so you can see these yourself. But be warned, turtles prefer the dark and keep rather unsociable hours!
Activities all day long – Being a guest at Al-Husn gives you full access to the other adjacent Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah next door. As well as snorkelling, beach volleyball, tennis and gyms, there are also many water sport options. Located on Al Waha beach and operated by a team of fully trained professionals, enjoy a genteel boat trip or for something more active try hydro-sport jet packs, clear bottom kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, wakeboarding, water-skiing and windsurfing.
Exclusive Spa – Hareer Spa is the first and the only L’OCCITANE spa in Oman. As a guest of Shangri-La Al Husn, you will have exclusive access to the spa as no external guests are allowed to make bookings here. The combination of French treatments by brilliant therapists with local ingredients make for a serene luxury experience.
Bars – Oman is unlike many other Arab countries. There is a bar scene in Muscat and mixology is taken seriously. My favourite bar at the resort is the Piano Lounge where they passed the ultimate cocktail test – a gin martini. With only two ingredients, it is a simple yet complex cocktail and it was made rather well.
The rest of the resort – As an Al-Husn guest you have full access to the rest of the resort where you can discover 6 swimming pools, another spa and Oman’s only lazy river. Inspired by the falaj system that brought fresh water to remote Omani villages, you can float through the resort on the lazy river or like me, you can swim against the gentle current for some not so lazy activity.
Whatsapp – Yes Whatsapp. There is a really handy Whatsapp service where when you sign up, you receive alerts about events and offers and best of all, you can also ask questions, send feedback and if you wish have a chit chat with the team at any time. We found this so handy when wanting to ask a quick question and to have someone at the end of our finger tips was most helpful.
With all these features, the stress is taken out of any holiday planning as every need and want is thought about with such detail and precision. The Shangri-La Al Husn experience is one of refined yet relaxed elegance that puts you in holiday mode quickly so you can focus on luxuriating in everything this castle paradise has to offer.
To book and discover more, visit: www.shangri-la.com/en/muscat/alhusnresortandspa
Top 5 things to do whilst staying at Shangri-La Al Husn Resort & Spa
Oman is an amazing country with a rich heritage, friendly embracing society and an abundance of natural beauty from 1000 miles of unspoilt coastline, almighty mountains, deserts and an authentic Arab culture. Summers can be very hot and temperatures reach over 50c between June and August so time your trip carefully.
During Ramadan, Oman can be very quiet and certain activities outside the hotel may not run so do check dates before planning a trip. On the plus side, it is a great time to explore beaches and eat special Ramadan foods. Here are some of our favourite things to discover:
1 Diving – Plunge into the aquatic universe with Extra Divers, conveniently located at The Marina adjacent to the resort in a mountainous setting that overlooks the crystal waters of the Sea of Oman. Dive boats leave from the jetty to take you into a colourful world of corals with a sensational variety of marine life including moray eels, stingrays, tuna, turtles and schools of dolphins. You will also find different types of reef sharks and on occasion, whale sharks. Whether you are a beginner or an instructor, diving courses are available for all levels and are in line with SSI, PADI or CMAS standards.
2 Wadi experience – No trip to Oman is complete without a Wadi experience. Wadi Al Arabeen is one of the most scenic spots in the country and the best way to discover it is in a 4×4 that will take you through countryside and rugged mountains to Wadi Al Arabeen which has deep pools of fresh water and waterfalls.
3 Omani Heritage Village – The village which is at the Shangri-La is a reincarnation of a former era that establishes the same mystical and authentic atmosphere of a souk. Pop in to see Oman’s traditional arts and crafts, handcrafted silver ware, pottery and weaving.
4 Muttrah Souk – One of the very fascinating souks in the Gulf, the best part is exploring the small side alleys with shops full of silver, clothing, embroidery and Omani delicacies.
5 Muscat Festival – Held in January every year and lasting for a month, the festival is a celebration of all things Oman nightly fireworks, fun fair, exhibitions, events, traditional dancing, shows and much more. en.muscat-festival.com
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