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It was mid August 2015 and my family and I wanted to squeeze every precious drop of fun and relaxation out of the summer holidays. We decided to take a quick trip across the border to Muscat. We decided that, since this would be our last little vacation before the winter break, we wanted luxury and that is exactly what we got at the Shangri-la’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa.

We decided to drive to Oman. Three hotels awaited our arrival, and each got better as we explored. approaching Al Waha, our excitement heightened, as a man-made tunnel through the mountain led to a sanctuary facing the Sea of Oman. Al Waha lives up to its name with several swimming pools merging to form a serene oasis. Date palms and traditional Dhofari architecture reminded us that we were still in Arabia.

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We booked our stay at the Al Bandar Hotel. Like its name suggests, this hotel is akin to a town with a mélange of fine restaurants. There is even a souq selling intricately-designed crafts, jewellery and artwork.

The palatial Al Husn is indeed as its name implies; a suitably exclusive castle. Rooms and suites are amongst the largest in all of Oman, I was told. They say it’s almost as if you have walked into a real Arabian palace. This is an adult only hotel, so we have put it at the top of our list for a romantic getaway without the kids.

Check in

After a three-and-a-half-hour drive from down the scenic Route 1, which goes through the mountains and then down the coast, we arrived just after 7:00pm. It was as if everyone had been waiting just for us. The valet quickly and efficiently helped us to alight from the car and assisted us very ably with our luggage. I must confess that we had way too much luggage for the four-day stay. We were ushered into the magnificent lobby, where our children, much to their delight, were served ice-cream just as they entered. Check in was a breeze and the check-in agent gave us all a warm welcome and all the information we would need to access the facilities of the resort. The agent suggested a room upgrade and followed us to our originally booked room just to ensure we were satisfied.

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The room

We had booked a deluxe sea-view room and had requested extra beds for our children, which were there ready and waiting for us. The room was very tastefully decorated, boasting modern Arabian-inspired décor. It had everything you would expect in a luxury five-star room, but curiosity got the better of me. I thought if this was so nice, what would the upgrade to a premier room be like. So I asked the agent if I could have a look at a premier room and she graciously obliged. We were sold. The premier room was stunning. It had the most wonderful unobstructed view of the ocean. The room itself was larger and felt even more comfortable than the previous and with two children needing space to play this was perfect.

The Food

With children who are not so easy to feed, I found that the Tanoor Buffet Restaurant served delicious food and plenty of it. We only ate there. The restaurant offered characteristic cuisines of the Arabian Gulf region in a traditional Omani atmosphere. On our next visit without the children, we plan to try more of the many restaurants that the resort has to offer. I have heard excellent things about Bait Al Bahr, which is a seafood restaurant and as a seafood lover I cannot wait. I have to also mention that i had the most amazing burger at the beach grill. It was juicy and cooked to absolute perfection.

Recreation

There are a variety of activities and excursions for all ages. We chose to enjoy the beautiful beach, the amazing pools and the lazy river. I spent most of my time meandering on the lazy river, while my kids enjoyed the many kid friendly activities.

My husband raved about the resort’s fully equipped Fitness Centre. I did not see it myself. I was too busy relaxing by the pool. If you like to be active, there is something for everyone; dolphin watching, snorkelling, kayaking and many more activities.

Verdict

This is a fantastic resort in a great location, the perfect getaway for educators all over the Gulf. It is ideal for couples, singles, families or a group of friends. The service and facilities are second to none.

By Leisa Simapili

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