My passion for travel started at a young age and I have been fortunate enough to visit many amazing destinations around the world. To pick a favorite would be an impossible task, but my top highlights include my recent visit to Oman!
More than any other Middle Eastern state, Oman has achieved equilibrium between its ancient Arabian culture and modernity. Not only is it one of the region’s most peaceful and prosperous countries, but it is also increasingly popular with travelers in search of dramatic scenery, magnificent beaches and insight into the region’s traditional way of life.
We landed into Dubai and started our drive into Oman. After almost 2 hours of sitting in our 4-Wheel Drive we found ourselves on the top of a steep cliff. A small drive upward brought an end to the tar road. Now began our adventure on the unpaved path and rugged roads. If you looked down, that would be Zighy Bay – a white sandy beach with a few Omani huts scattered amidst Date Palm trees nestled between the rough, rocky and breathtaking Hajar Mountains. In true sense this is definitely an Omani version of an Italian Amalfi Coast. Who knew barrenness could be so beautiful? We then started our descend into the unfolding bay below and entered Six Senses-Zighy Bay. But little to my knowledge, we had made an entry into the Six Senses gate but not into the resort yet. A grand entry awaited us. We were driven to a landing point where in bold it was written CLIFF EDGE. Arrangements were made for us to reach the reception by PARAGLIDING! Thrill, excitement, adrenaline rush, whatever you wish to call it quickly consumed me. I gathered the courage and jumped off the cliff (off course with an expert paraglider strapped behind me) and landed on the white sandy beach only to be welcomed by my personal butler (GEM- Guest Experience Manager as they call him) with cold towels and a delicious date smoothie! That very minute I knew it that this is going to be one of those unforgettable holidays for a long time to come!
Zighy Bay’s villas come in four categories. We were given the 2-bedroom enormously spacious villa. The villas are designed on the style of the traditional Omani village houses– cobbled and whitewashed walls, freestone floors, thatched ceilings, bamboos tied up in ropes forming the staircase railings, outdoor showers and stone bath tubs, dark wooden furniture, subdued lighting and a couch piled high with cotton pillows all invited languor. A huge earthen pot in the entrance holding water to clean the beach-returned sandy feet, a small alcove outside the villa with cushions to curl up your feet with a book, an outdoor Majlis/traditional Arabic summer house gave us a very inviting, cozy and warm feeling. Every villa at Zighy offers a wonderful little private world that you rarely feel tempted to leave. The balcony from the first floor overlooked the Bay waters through the Date Palm trees and another row of villas. Each villa has it’s own infinity-edged pool and a mini sandy courtyard area with a huge sit out and sun beds. This is a different world, cocooned within nature, in understated luxury.
Bicycles were already on standby for us right outside our villa. The buggy service is available on the press of a button but the charm and fun of riding a bicycle through out the property and exploring the smaller nuances is another experience after all.
The award-winning Six Senses Spa is always a highlight.
The spa with its dreamy Arabian décor boasts nine treatment rooms, Arabian Hammams, steam, sauna, open-air Spa Pavilion and the most intriguing and never heard before “Ice Room”. Yes, it’s true. As the name suggests, it’s a cold room (not freezing though) to calm the body from the intense summer heat.
I booked myself the Deep Tissue Balinese Massage for 90 mins and Oh Boy! I almost fell asleep. This proves that the spa therapists have been trained to the highest standards by Six Senses, a company renowned for its spa expertise. The blissfully relaxing atmosphere and a rejuvenating massage followed by the most delicious ginger tea and some dates completely relaxed my body and mind!
Indeed, Zighy Bay unquestionably has the most tranquil, picturesque and impressive spa in the Arabian Peninsula
At an isolated property like this, top quality restaurants are a necessity. This is because the guests are captive audiences. You can’t stroll out of the property looking for a quick bite at a deli down the road or hail a cab and just stop in front of a restaurant you fancy! But there is no regret at all. Zighy Bay offers an enticing variety of restaurants and menu options.
We had booked ourselves on the half board package, which included breakfast and dinner. For us, everyday was a late breakfast complete with Arabic and international delicacies and dishes. A live counter preparing authentic Arabic flat bread with cheese or honey and local condiments was my personal favorite. So was the wide array of homemade jams and compotes with some crazily interesting combinations like Tomato and Vanilla, Apricot and Basil. The Fig jam and Honey made from local Dibba Dates are the specialties here and the orange jam was my favorite. The long lazy breakfast sessions were kind off never ending leaving no room for lunch in our well-fed tummies. What I eagerly looked out for was the dinner as one could savour international cuisines at Sense on the Edge, the resort’s signature hilltop restaurant with spectacular views over the crystal waters of the Gulf of Oman or an al fresco dining at Summer House. A traditional Middle Eastern fare at Spice Market or for a truly intimate experience, one could opt for a private barbecue or in-villa dining – perfect for the romantics and honeymooners.
You can take your pick! This place is not just to sit back and relax. There is also a surprisingly wide range of activities, from the laid-back to the thrilling. These include paragliding and micro-light flights (think a James Bond style motorbike with a pilot, engine and wings) for a unique perspective on the bay. All-day dhow cruises head north to explore the dramatic coastline of the Musandam Peninsula, incorporating stops for kayaking, swimming, snorkeling and lunch, or there are evening cruises to simply take in the tranquility of the area with a refreshing mocktail in hand. Fishing expeditions can be tailored to suit beginners or more seasoned practitioners, while this is one of the best diving areas in the Middle East, with an unspoiled, pristine sub-aquatic world that features varied specimens and a few fascinating shipwrecks. Mountain biking or rock climbing is also a major attraction. Staying within the resort itself, there is tennis, volleyball, water sports and two swimming pools, or for those that want to explore further inland, guided 4WD jeep safaris into the mountains.
Things To Pack
Swimsuit, sunblock, fit flops, hats, sunnies, a light jacket as the nights might be a little cold, sanitizer, beach bag, sneakers for activities, camera, formal clothes and shoes when dining at Sense on the Edge. Also a book that you wanted to read for the longest but never got the time!
This place is a surprise gift, waiting to be unwrapped. The journey to the place is as breathtaking as our stay in the rustic yet luxurious, understated yet exotic resort. No Bougainvillea’s blooming or manicured green lawns. Neither are there any paved paths throughout the resort. Zighy Bay is really a ‘must’ while on a luxury Middle East holiday and is on its way to quickly become a very popular destination for tourists in search of the winter sun.
Outfit: Gunu Sahni