Recently Ben from our India & Arabia team was lucky enough to travel to Oman to explore the country’s interior and visit the superb Six Senses Zighy Bay.
Like many people, my perception of Oman before visiting was a land made up of barren desert and large Emirati style cities. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find instead, a landscape dominated by rugged mountains, pretty villages in hidden valleys with crystal clear flowing streams and low rise, clean cities with warm friendly cosmopolitan people. My journey took me from Muscat to the desert of Wahiba Sands, through the medieval fort city of Nizwa and on through the wild Hajar mountains – but the real highlight for me was the Northern most part of the country, the Musandam Peninsula.
Ben above the Omani village of Balad Sayt near Wadi Ban Awf
Separated from the rest of Oman by the Emirates, Musandam is best reached by a flight to Dubai followed by a drive through Ras Al Khaimah. It’s a wild looking place, with vast glacial like basins flanked by sheer high sided mountains, and one can drive for miles with only goats on the roadside and falcons flying overhead as company – there is a distinct sense of space and openness and it really feels like you’re leaving the modern world far behind. With temperatures averaging in the 30’s most of the year, it’s a largely arid land and farming is difficult, so most of the population are based on the coast where subsistence fishing is the norm. Many of these villages are cut off from the mainland by mountain passes and the primary mode of transport is by boat along the coast. It is one of these remote villages, that is home to Six Senses Zighy Bay. Zighy Bay is a firm favourite of the whole Scott Dunn team and guests we’ve sent there; I had been thoroughly looking forward to my stay.
Beach at Zighy Bay
Without a doubt, Zighy Bay is one of the most impressive and dramatic entrances to a resort you’ll ever experience. After a steep drive up to the head of a mountain pass, you round a corner and the whole bay opens up in front of you, hundreds of metres below. The resort itself is low impact and sits quietly in its surroundings – one gets the sense that there was huge respect for the local environment when it was constructed and the emphasis is very much on the bay itself providing the best views. Once inside, the resort feels like a village, albeit a luxury one – the pool area sits in the centre of the resort, with excellent restaurants either side. Villas range from direct beach access to more private ones set back from the shore, with plenty of space in between. The interior of the villas literally define barefoot chic, with cool whitewashed walls and open wooden beams reminiscent of finca style houses. Bathrooms are huge with both indoor and outdoor showers, fridges are stocked with an excellent selection of juices, wines and champagnes and there’s an extensive in-room dining selection if you decide to leave the outside world totally behind.
Pool villa by night
It doesn’t take long to unwind and after a sunset swim in the warm ocean and a G&T at the beach bar, thoughts turn to dinner. I had the chance to eat at two of the restaurants during my stay and was hugely impressed – some of the best food I have eaten in a resort. Emphasis is on the freshest ingredients; the fish being particularly outstanding, having being caught fresh each morning. The wine list is extensive and comprises a well thought out selection of both classic old and new world wines. For special occasions there’s also the Edge dining option, high up on the mountain side.
Sunset over Zighy Bay
Service wise, Six Senses gets things spot on – attentive and detail focused but never intrusive, there is a clear understanding that the resort is a special place where privacy and relaxation are priority. Add to this an industry leading Spa which is the ideal place to completely unwind. To anyone who has already visited Zighy Bay and the Musandam Peninsula then this is probably preaching to the converted, but if it is still new to you, then I cannot recommend it highly enough.