By Hermoine Macura-Noble
Special to The Times Kuwait

Salalah, located in the southern region of Oman,is a hidden gem waiting to be explored, with its unique combination of pristine beaches, lush greenery, and historic architecture. Known for its stunning beaches which stretch as far as the eye can see — the crystal clear waters of the Arabian Sea combined with the white sand make it a paradise for beach lovers across the globe. The most popular beaches in Salalah include Al Mughsail Beach, which is known for its stunning natural rock formations and blowholes, and Al Fizayah Beach, which is perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

When it comes to accommodation, there are several great hotels to consider along the seaside. Leading the way in sustainability across luxury resorts in the Gulf is the stunning Al Baleed Resort by Anantara. Built between a beach and a freshwater lagoon, the beachfront resort has been designed in harmony with nature, raising the bar for other hotels in Oman without compromising on the unique culture and identity of the city.

Andrea Orru, General Manager at Al Baleed Resort.

From the moment you pass through the stunning entrance arches which embrace the beauty of Islamic architecture, and are handed the welcome drink of rose water and frankincense, one is almost guaranteed a relaxing stay ahead. The use of symmetry is also an important feature throughout the grounds with raised black-stone water features mimicking the ancient falaj irrigation system running towards important focal points, the ocean and the lagoon. In earlier times, the villages surrounding Salalah featured a majestic main fort surrounded by the village houses below which formed a myriad of fascinating paths and alleyways.

The façades of their mud brick walls also formed the village boundary, punctuated by an imposing wooden entrance gate. Al Baleed Resort has taken this concept to recreate a village-like atmosphere, exuding a sense of days gone by. Behind striking carved wooden doors, the white-washed main building houses the reception and lobby, Sakalan restaurant, and 30 guest rooms boasting incredible sea views.

Dotted amongst 691 coconut palms lie the 88 pool villas with traditional flat roofs, private entrances, and intimate courtyards, widely spread out for privacy and comfort. “Our guests are mainly from Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Oman. During the Khareef season (June – August) we are welcoming guests from UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Oman. Our resort is an ideal destination for couples and families,” explains General Manager at Al Baleed Resort, Andrea Orru.

Spa lovers will thoroughly enjoy the Anantara Spa where detoxifying treatments using local ingredients such as frankincense are used to relax the mind, body, and soul through traditional rituals at Oman’s only luxury hammam spa. A salt scrub and frankincense oil massage is the ideal choice before wandering along the property’s sandy beach or before slipping into the warm waters of the infinity pool that runs through the center of the property.

It is also nice to know when enjoying such luxury that you are also helping to heal the environment. The hotel is committed to achieving zero waste and removing single-use plastics from the property and has changed to glass bottles and biodegradable straws since early 2020. Wooden key cards have also been in use for over two years. Guests will find environmentally friendly pens and slippers in their rooms and villas, and a concerted effort is being made to establish 100 percent paper-free guest communication. Villa hosts use iPads for guest management, and digital screens have replaced printed advertisements at the resort.

To live in harmony with the resort’s surroundings while connecting guests to the destination, local produce is used throughout the resort. Vegetables are grown in the chef’s garden and others are sourced from the Royal Razat Farm in Salalah. “We support our community through grassroots involvement, as well as matching guest donations to organizations that provide vital services, such as child welfare and wildlife protection. In every decision, we are driven by sustainable hospitality,” adds Orru.

Another great place to stay in Salalah is the adults-only Juweira Boutique Hotel in Hawana. Designed by famed Egyptian architect Adel Mokhtar the property focuses on delivering a personalized service to grown-up guests. Located meters from the beach in an all-inclusive Rotana concept, the façade is made up of an understated fusion of traditional Arabian architecture and contemporary lines. Dining and entertainment options at the hotel vary from traditional local delicacies to locally sourced seafood. The dining restaurant, Al Manara, is set directly on the waterfront with large windows overlooking the marina. Alternatively, Sammak is located just across the bridge and offers traditional cuisine. Outdoor seating means guests can enjoy a romantic seafood dinner under the stars.

For those who love to explore the local culture and the great outdoors, make sure to stop by the Museum of the Frankincense Land which showcases the history and importance of frankincense in the region. You can also learn about the ancient trade routes and see how the resin is harvested.

It is also worthwhile exploring the Al Baleed Archaeological Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to the 12th century and the Al Husn Souq. This traditional Omani market is a great place to experience the local culture and purchase traditional crafts, spices, and clothing. Other activities which should not be missed according to locals are the dolphin-watching tours, and a hike up the Samhan Mountain Range for stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

So whether you are looking for a short break close by or just want to escape to one of the very few untouched parts of the world, Salalah is a unique city that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. So pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and get ready to explore this hidden gem in Oman.

By Hermoine Macura-Noble The first Australian English speaking News Anchor in the Middle East. She is also the Author of Faces of the Middle East and Founder of US-based 501c3 charity – The House of Rest which helps to ease the suffering of victims of war. For more from our Contributing Editor, you can follow her on Instagram, here.By Hermoine Macura-Noble
The first Australian English speaking News Anchor in the Middle East. She is also the Author of Faces of the Middle East and Founder of US-based 501c3 charity – The House of Rest which helps to ease the suffering of victims of war. For more from our Contributing Editor, you can follow her on Instagram, here.

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