There are few experiences in our lifetime that remain etched in memory for a long, long time. A trip to the Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman is going to be one such memory for me, which will not fade away too soon. Often described an as exotic hideaway destination, no strong arguments can debate this reputation. Six Senses Zighy Bay is located in a most unassuming location – in the rocky mountains of the Sultanate of Oman, close to the UAE border. The closest airport to reach the resort is Dubai, where I landed, unless you would fancy a much longer drive through the Omani landscape by landing at the Muscat International Airport.
I was flying in from Mumbai and touched base in Dubai in the wee hours of the night, at 2am. I was welcomed by a member of staff from the hotel, who spared no idle moment to rush me, and my luggage, into a waiting GMC van and speed off into the night. Had it not been such an ungodly hour, and had I not been flirting with the night cap, I would perhaps have been able to see the receding lights of Dubai’s impressive skyline and enter into an abyss of darkness, only speckled with a trail of lamp posts.
The road from Dubai to the resort crosses the Hajjar Mountains (located in northern Oman and eastern UAE) via the Empty Quarter – the largest uninterrupted sand mass in the world to reach Zighy Bay – a secluded fishing village in Oman’s Musandam Peninsula.
On arrival at the resort, checking in was brisk and was soon after escorted in a golf buggy to my sea-facing villa. Sleep was not willing to give up for the night so I had to call it quits and explore the surroundings in the morning. That night I slept like a baby listening to the soft lullaby created by the waves hitting the shoreline.
I woke up the next day, earlier than I would imagine after a long day of travelling, and was able to witness one of the most beautiful sunrises I have seen in all of my life. The weather was also just perfect. My trip to the Six Senses Zighy Bay was back in November – one of the best months to be yonder them Arabian lands. The cool winter air and the bright blue skies will not fail to impress, making you an instant fan.
The sunrise was the most beautiful I had ever seen.
The sunrise on this fine morning was surreal – just like how poets describe a budding affair between a lord and his fair lady. Being a beachfront villa, the added leverage was being able to walk on the beach and allow the chilled waters of the Arabian Gulf to lick at my ankles.
As I walked out of my private villa and onto the sandy common beach of the resort, I was almost gliding. The air was chilly as was the powdered sand underneath my foot. Far across my vision, the horizon looked like a colour palette of the shade blue. And like a painting, the end of the sea met the beginning of a cloud sprinkled sky. I could have stayed there for hours, just staring into the oblivion.
Six Senses Zighy Bay plays with perception. From the exterior the rustic Omani architecture is a trip back to the days of mud huts and dried palm leaf roofs. The rooms welcome you with a large pot of water and if you would fancy taking a tour of the property on a simple bicycle, you will be charmed.
On entering the room though, you will immediately get transported into the lap of luxury. The interior is nothing like the humble exteriors. The clean wooden furniture, airy room with plenty of light entering through big, open windows and views of the beach and sea at large will have you floored. The rooms, or the palatial suites, or in my case – a 2500 sq ft beach-facing villa – are equipped with all relevant modern amenities like charging stations, climate control, speedy Wi-Fi, metal lamps, TV, electric kettles, and so on. But if you become as smitten as me on all the ancient charm, then it is more likely that all these amenities will remain untouched or unused. Although a pool and the sea are great options to take a dip in, the rooms also feature tubs in its marble-floored bathrooms. The hotel uses its own toiletries.
If you are looking for a more luxurious, exclusive treat then there is one of two specialty retreats to choose from. Situated at either end of the property these ‘specialty’ villas have a lot of pampering amenities to select from that could perhaps distract you from enjoying the natural surroundings. A personal spa, a wine cellar, exercise machines, an infinity pool and ‘state-of-the-art’ entertainment system.
The resort’s architecture displays a signature trait of all Six Senses property – it blends the brand’s core principles with the essence of its chosen location. Omani architecture is evident everywhere – the beach shacks or village houses and miniature creeks within the hotel premises, manicured gardens with date and fig trees and stone villas.
A signature feature of the Six Senses brand is the butler – a GEM (guest experience maker) and someone who is just a phone call away. She will take you around the property in her buggy and ensure making your stay completely stress-free and relaxing.
And, what better way to evoke all five senses other than a spa treatment? If you haven’t chosen one of the special retreats or villas featuring in-villa spa treatments, then there is a spa at the property where you can walk into and let the therapists do the needful.
Paragliding is a good way to experience the outwardly terrain and the serene views first hand.
Yet, Six Senses Zighy Bay is not all about its pampering packages. There is a host of activities to choose from – para gliding, snorkeling, mountain biking, rock climbing, dhow cruising, sunset cruising, and something called the Sabatyn 4X4 – a trek that explores the village of the Sabatyn plateau which stretches along a mountain side with views of Wadi Al Bih below. “The village contains an abundance of petroglyphs, stone towers and ancient houses that were once home to farmers tending their large terraced fields,” says the company’s website.
Cinema Paradiso is a great way to spend some time on the beach – at night. Families can remain entertained with movies on the beach under a blanket of stars while unconventional ushers serve five flavors of popcorn and refreshing soft drinks.
If you fancy some cooking while on your holiday in this hideaway (yea I didn’t think so too), Arabic cooking classes are available at the Organic Garden for kids and adults.
But this is not all – the Chaica’s Club for children 4 to 10 will keep them entertained with watersports, sand castles, treasure hunts and learning about Arabian history and local culture. The Teen Club offers adventure hikes, wadi swimming or just learning new skills like archery, raft building and abseiling.
I decided to do paragliding. The views were breathtaking. From high up in the air, you can see everything – the resort, the blue sea, the mountains – everything. It almost feels like you are floating on a magic carpet.
When the sun goes down, there is still plenty to be done – like enjoying a glass of bubbly by the pool, which is lit up by candles setting a cosy ambiance.
That might be a good idea if you want to stay in one night instead of doing something more adventurous – live on the edge or… dine on the edge, perhaps? ‘Sense on the Edge’ is out of this world. It is one of the dining options at the resort which perched on top of a hill giving stunning views of the wadi (or valley) below as well as the beach and sea farther away. The restaurant is located 293 metres up at the top of the Zighy Mountain. Yes, you will need a 4×4 for access by experienced and seasoned drivers can take guests through winding hairpin roads and steep mountain roads… or perhaps your personal helicopter which you brought along for the trip.
An early dinner is the best way to enjoy both food and view. The restaurant serves a lot of exotic options – most recommended by the chef. There is a garden at the bottom of the mountain which produces fresh fruits and vegetables which make it to the kitchens on the property. Some of the local produce to check out are Dibba, Arabic dates, olives and herbs.
The Spice market serves breakfast – a spread which features everything from the east to the west, and a lot in between. The Cellar is where you can have dinner in the wine cellar – yes, literally. Shua Shack offers Arabic cuisine while Summer House is a casual restaurant. Zighy Bar is where you can revel in this paradise, sipping a cocktail or an organic mocktail, whatever suits you best.
If your idea of a holiday is to take a break from the world at a scenic secluded spot and indulge in a host of activities with your loved ones in utmost luxury, then SSZB can be just the place to be. The service is also noteworthy. This award-winning hotel is one of the third most expensive hotels in the Middle East. Indulgence can be a costly affair here. but every once in a while, you can always give yourself a treat.
Note– The critic was invited by the Six Senses Zighy Bay. But all the opinions expressed herewith are his own.
Where: Six Senses Zighy Bay
Musandam Peninsula, PO Box 212,
Dibba-Musandam 800, Oman
Phone: +968 26 735555