Atlantis of the Sands: Oases in Oman

<< Back to Robb Report, September 2007
  • Jack Smith

Oman’s determination to cater to the discriminating traveler suggests that

the sultanate will become home to some of the Middle East’s most luxurious

hotels. Here are three that already are open for business, or soon will



Situated 20 miles south of Muscat, on the exclusive Boushar

beachfront, the Chedi reflects the mellow, minimalist atmosphere of Oman’s

capital city. The resort’s whitewashed buildings—which together hold 115 rooms

and 36 suites—are clustered among gardens, ponds, and shady palm trees. You

enter the resort through a Bedouin-style tented lobby and pass four open

kitchens that specialize in Asian, Indian, Mediterranean, and Arabic cuisine,


In addition to the waters of the Gulf of Oman, swimmers have

access to two pools, one of which is reserved for adult guests. The Chedi Club

Suites are Arabian in style, with domed roofs, and each has a view of the ponds

from its private terrace. Guests who stay in the suites have use of the resort’s

private lounge and library.
+968.2452.4400, www­

The Al Bustan was built in

1985, a time when there were no tourists in Oman. For years, therefore, the only

guests in its 250 rooms and suites were kings, emirs, princes, and the assorted

government dignitaries who kept oil and petrodollars flowing throughout the

region. Anything less than monumental would not do for these personages, and

thus the Al Bustan remains one of the grandest hotels in the Middle East.

Set on some 200 acres of lush gardens, the hotel is octagon-shaped, and when

viewed from the water, it suggests a wedding cake. The Al Bustan’s interior is

no less compelling. The lobby has white marble flooring, mosaic-tile walls, and

a 125-foot-high domed ceiling. Each floor evokes a particular time and place:

modern European, Arabian traditional, Chinese antique.

The restaurant grills

lobsters fresh from the sea, and although it is difficult to purchase even a can

of beer elsewhere in the country, the bar at the Al Bustan purveys dozens of

single-malt Scotch whiskies. Currently closed for a multimillion-dollar

refurbishing, the Al Bustan is expected to be no less majestic when it reopens

in December.
+968.2479.9666, www­

When Oman’s largest resort

opened last year in Muscat, its 680 rooms and suites doubled the nation’s entire

stock of luxury accommodations. The Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa is at odds

with the Omani penchant for understatement; you might call it Dubai Lite. It is

actually three resorts in one: There is the family-friendly, 302-room Al Waha

(the Oasis), the 198-room Al Bandar (the Town), and the 180-room, so-called

six-star Al Husn (the Castle). Ultimately the resorts’ physical settings

distinguish them from one another. The Town, for instance, is closest to the sea

and has numerous pools and beach amenities, while the Oasis is more intimate and

reminiscent of a village. The ultraexclusive Castle is set off by itself,

perched on the resort’s highest point, from which it overlooks infinity pools

that seem to flow into the sunset.

The latest addition to the resort complex

is the Shangri-La CHI spa village, where treatments that originated in China and

the Himalayas are conducted in private villas equipped with deep baths. Guests

can relax on their own in the CHI Spa Oasis, which has a hydro pool and rain

showers, before enjoying the grand hammam.



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