A modern form of room service - the telephone - may be far less evocative, but it’s super efficient nonetheless, and I’m soon happily ensconced with food and a glass of wine on a chaise longue in the corner of the room, peering fruitlessly into the darkness outside. It was dark when we arrived and I’m eager to see the views from this canyon-edge resort; with that in mind, I leave the curtains flung open when I eventually throw myself on to the wide, white bed to sleep.
Sadly, for one particular princess, the resort was not here when she visited back in 1986 - and nor were the increasingly steep and winding roads on which we made our way from Muscat last night. Dropped in these wild and unforgiving elements by helicopter for a six-hour sojourn with her husband Charles, Diana is immortalised in the hotel’s Diana’s Point, where a nightly throng of cocktail-drinking guests gather in front of a blazing fire drum, to take in the spectacle of sunset over the landscape, often with clouds drifting in below and all but obscuring the village at the canyon’s base.
Accompanied by an Omani local, we learn about the ancient system of irrigation - called falaj - that inhabitants have developed over millennia to combat the water shortages from which the area, despite its elevation, suffers. Following the course of one such channel from a waterfall, we pass fruit trees which, in season, are hung with pomegranates, apricots and pears, as well as the rows of bushes from which the Damask rose petals, used for making the famed Omani rosewater, are harvested in the March-May season. Used for cosmetic purposes, this intoxicatingly scented liquid, along with saffron and cardamom, also flavours the Omani coffee that we take in one of the villages; fudgy, squidgy dates are served alongside to provide the missing sugar-sweetness. Although few people now live in the villages - they have relocated to the nearby ‘New Town’ where running water, education and medical care are more readily accessible - these atmospheric doorways and laneways have by no means been abandoned, and home owners still walk the steep inclines and rugged paths to check in on their properties and tend to their crops and animals.
There’s only one thing that someone who has come down off the adrenaline of such an experience deserves, and that’s some quality time in the Spa, where tranquility is the order of the day from the moment you set foot within its graceful walls. Treatments incorporate local flavours and scents, with rosewater and pomegranate providing their soothing properties in a menu of rituals for face and body. Separate suites for men and women include sauna and steam rooms, experience showers, relaxation chambers, outdoor gardens with loungers and refreshment stations at which to snack on dried fruits and nuts, whilst rehydrating with a herbal tea.
As as been the case with every Anantara I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying at, the level of service here exceeds exceptional, with genuine warmth, as well as efficiency and capability, infusing every interaction. The Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar featured in BBC2’s ‘Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby’ which saw Giles Coren and Monica Galetti experience its fortress-inspired walls. Coren’s blatant fear of heights meant that he wasn’t a fan of the Activity Wall, but even with that fact potentially clouding his judgement, he couldn’t fault the resort. The fact that I loved the vertiginous thrill of it can surely only mean that I rate the Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar even more highly than he did.
Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort
Al Jabal Al Akhdar
Best bits: The location is incredible, whether you tackle it physically or just gawp at it from your balcony - it's the Grand Canyon of the Middle East
Worst bits: After a 7+ hour flight from the UK, a 2-hour drive to your final destination isn’t the most alluring prospect, even if it is worth it when you get there.
Most suited for: Those looking for a double destination holiday in Oman; a few days exploring Muscat before escaping to the mountains would fill a week or so beautifully, and more than justify the flight time.
*During my stay I was hosted by the team at Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar . All opinions are my own.
Our experience overall
Ambiance - ★★★★
Food & Drink - ★★★★
Staff attentiveness/ friendliness ★★★★★