A 4WD access only, two-hour drive from Muscat airport, Anantara Al Jabal Akhdar Resort is located in an area renowned for its damask roses, with abandoned villages and hiking trails close by. Moreover, perched 2,000 metres above sea level on the Saiq Plateau of Jabal Akhdar (which means ‘Green Mountain’ in Arabic), the hotel lays claim to being the Middle East’s highest five-star resort. Its views – over the majestic Hajar Mountains – certainly don’t disappoint. No wonder the emir of Qatar has also chosen these mountains for a new palace.
Blending into its surrounds, the low-rise, earth-hued buildings are connected by stone pathways, gardens planted with indigenous plants and waterways inspired by traditional falaj (irrigation channels). There’s a spa, with private hammam suites, treatment rooms, vitality pool and Jacuzzi; a stunning cliff-edge infinity pool; and a viewing platform, named after the late Diana, Princess of Wales, who visited the site in 1986 – and the location for seven marriage proposals, so far.
All 82 rooms boast a balcony offering canyon views, while the additional 33 one-, two- and three-bedroom villas come with a secluded garden and pool. Our room, featuring Arabic decorative details, had all the luxuries we could want, including a Nespresso machine, fully stocked minibar, dressing area and a welcome platter of local fruits.
The bathroom was particularly spacious, and included a large bath, a separate rain shower, independent WC, double sinks and plenty of Elemis goodies. ‘Welcome to Anantara’, scrawled in lipstick on the Hollywood-style dressing table mirror, added a personal touch.
With four restaurants, plus a café and shisha lounge, there’s plenty of choice, including a tailor-made, private dining experience, canyon-side. We enjoyed an international breakfast at Al Maison, which offered mountain views; fine Middle Eastern fare in a central fort tower; an authentic Italian lunch at pool-side Bella Vista (check out the award-winning wine list) and wonderful Omani hospitality throughout our stay.
Who goes there?
An international, adventurous crowd – we met Kuwaiti geology students and a globetrotting, retired English couple.
Out and about:
There are plenty of activities available to make the most of the unique location, from an Omani cooking class to cinema under the stars, yoga at dawn to a mountain picnic, as well as a variety of cultural walks and driving tours.
The worst thing:
Two nights wasn’t enough time – we’d just acclimatised to the altitude (expect dry lips) before we had to depart.
The best thing:
Without doubt, tackling the Hajar mountain range. Harnessed up and encouraged by our expert instructor Thilina, we started with the Via Ferrata, which is a steel cable running along the mountainside, crossing over a ladder and scrambling over rocks before abseiling along a 22ft zip line and climbing up again. It was both exhilarating and, at times, terrifying – an experience that will stay with us forever. Afterwards, a spot-on, signature massage at the spa provided the perfect antidote.
Save up to 30% on accommodation rates and receive complimentary half-board at Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar. Prices start from £1,445 per person based on two adults sharing a Premier Canyon View Room for five nights on a half-board basis, including return economy class flights and private transfers. This offer is valid for bookings made more than 90 days before arrival and for travel completed between 1st November and 27th December 2018 and 4th January and 31st October 2019. This offer represents a saving of up to £590 per person, based on a departure date of 6th May 2019. A minimum stay of three nights applies. Book with Inspiring Travel Company (01244 355527, inspiringtravelcompany.co.uk)