Oman The moment of waking up the first morning after arriving at Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort may best describe the unreal qualities of this place. When I get up and look out of the fully glazed front of my villa, do I think whether the mountain landscape before my eyes is initially in Phoenix, Arizona – or rather in an episode of Star Trek?
But then I record everything that frames the spectacular view of the mountain gorge: the deck that opens into my personal infinity pool after three steps. The luxurious wooden floor. The hand-carved marquetry of the furniture. The oriental chandelier made of heavy iron on the ceiling in a modern, light and airy atmosphere. The generously laid table with exotic fruit and other delicacies from 1001 nights. Pure luxury.
In fact, I’m very far from Arizona – at least in terms of latitude. The height is roughly correct: Since the previous evening I have been residing at a height of almost 2000 meters in a resort whose location has magical qualities.
But is the same true for the hotel itself? Experience warns: Many a house rests on such a location advantage. In addition, compared to its often better developed neighboring countries, Oman still has some catching up to do in terms of tourism. Is the local hospitality scene really sniffing the mountain air, or are you wearing your nose up here in the mountains?
When it comes to marketing, there are no halves here: The Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, in the mountains in Oman’s inland about two hours from the coastal capital Muscat, is one of the most luxurious resorts in the world.
It is undoubtedly one of the most remote: I was picked up from the magnificent capital airport with a large SUV. Parts of the mountain road leading to the accommodation are only accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles. On the way, driver Mashid gave me a crash course in the history of Oman in perfect English and showed me the sights.
And then at some point the resort lay before me: an oasis in the typically sand-colored, geometrically distinctive, glass-heavy high-tech architecture of the Middle East. “Green Mountain” means Anantara and that’s exactly what I’m surrounded by.
Lady Diana and Prince Charles were brought here in 1986 to see the beauty of Oman – long before the hotel existed. One of the terraces with a viewing platform is located exactly where they stood today.
It doesn’t take me long to convince myself that the marketing promises are by no means out of thin air even beyond the location. The hardware is beyond any doubt and damn close to perfection. The 32 villas and 82 rooms all have an unobstructed view of the mountains.
The equipment shows great attention to detail. The lavish bathrooms with their rain showers, the free-standing bathtubs and the painstakingly perfected decoration are particularly worth mentioning. Charming little things like a high-quality Bluetooth speaker and binoculars to enjoy the sensational view complete the picture.
The gym and spa are also as complete and of high quality as one would expect from the self-declared world level. What disappointed me, however, is that no drinking water comes out of the tap and I have to brush my teeth with water from the bottle. Wifi also has annoying gaps – little things that stand out in the midst of all the perfection.
The constantly present, German-born director Dagmar Symes is responsible for the service quality of the Anantara – and that is probably the best of many good arguments for this resort.
The small but fine details show how strongly and, above all, how seamlessly the guest orientation has been internalized by the diverse international team: here, wishes are read by the eyes, the fulfillment of which I also run after in some splendid buildings in the neighboring countries should.
After arriving with a cold, boxes with handkerchiefs are everywhere in my suite like magic. The coffee table is so generously covered with fresh fruit, fine pastries and snacks that I practically never have to leave the room.
In keeping with the unique location of the resort, there is an extensive range of mountain activities that are to be expanded further this year. From mountain hikes to climbing tours with different levels of difficulty to mountain biking, everything is possible – led by professionals. The little ones can go on a treasure hunt in the children’s paradise.
I experience my service highlight exactly where I hope for it in a luxurious retreat: in the sensational spa with saunas, steam bath, dressing room, experience showers, large whirlpool and hammam. My treatment in a large, bright room with state-of-the-art wellness technology takes place at Dorinda in South Africa and is second to none.
It doesn’t just do everything right by being extremely sensitive when it comes to footbath, massage and scrub. She also goes the extra mile: explains the aromas, explores my preferences for the room atmosphere and literally beds me on roses. On a scale of 1 to 10, this spa would get a smooth 10 from me – if you could measure such an individual experience with grades.
Gastronomy is always a challenge in an elite hotel. The fact that the Anantara is in the middle of nowhere naturally adds to the difficulty of the supply chain.
So I am all the more surprised at the scope of the gastronomic offer: there are three restaurants and two bar-cafes as well as customized dining with a view of the Diana terrace. The palette ranges from international, especially European and Asian dishes to exotic Arabian national cuisine.
I am particularly impressed by the quality of the Italian restaurant “Bella Vista” by chef Gaspare Greco. On the pool terrace, I enjoy the tender duck carpaccio and the wonderful linguine with Omani lobster tails while I gaze out over the canyon.
In the eyes of Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, the gastronomy of the Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort currently ranks first on the admittedly still manageable but rapidly growing culinary map of Oman. Only breakfast could be more opulent; that makes The Chedi in Muscat better.
All in all, is the claim correct that this mountain oasis in Oman is one of the best resorts in the world? My answer is a surprisingly clear yes – especially when I consider the manageable prices of around 250 to 300 euros for a room and from around 400 euros for one of the villas. It’s hard to get more for money anywhere in the world.
So is the rightly award-winning Anantara Resort the perfect hotel? Maybe not, because there are small weaknesses like a wobbly WLAN and the unconvincing water quality. But the hardware is perfect and the service of the highest quality. The Anantara Resort fulfills the central promise of a spectacular, top-class luxury retreat with a unique location with flying colors.
About the author: As a former grand hotelier and operator of a travel platform, Carsten K. Rath Globetrotter is a professional. He travels all the hotels he writes about for the Handelsblatt for his own account.
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