Thursday, November 29, 2012

HOTEL CHECK OMAN, part 1, Six Senses Zighy Bay

Arriving at Six Senses Zighy Bay!

“Would you like to paraglide in to the hotel sir?”

Not your typical chauffeur’s question when travelling to a luxury hotel, but this is not a typical property. It is hthe only hotel located on a magnificent 1.6km stretch of golden sand beach, the bay is hemmed in on all sides by jagged mountains. With a philosophy of "redefining experiences" Six Senses offers this arrival option along with speedboat or 4WD.

For us the 4WD journey through the narrow mountain pass was adventure enough in itself so we skipped the paragliding option and enjoyed the still spectacular view down to the bay from our luxury vehicle instead of from a harness under a floating tent. To be fair, we did see many other guests take this option and it looked like a lot of fun and certainly rather more professionally set up than our previous paragliding experience in the Colombian countryside…but that’s another story.

A real beach resort, a sanctuary only 2 hours from Dubai
Located just 2 hours from Dubai, Six Senses Zighy Bay is actually in Oman but Dubai is the closest big airport and city so it was an easy option to combine a short stay here in this isolated beach resort to contrast with Dubai’s ‘busier’ feel. Incidentally Banyan Tree Al Wadi – see our previous post - is halfway between the two and a tour of all three destinations is great for those who get restless feet but don’t like long transfers (the longest is Zighy Bay to Dubai airport at just 2 hours).

Our instant feeling on arrival was “this is our kind of property” and our love of the place only grew through our stay. Barefoot luxury is the now oft used phrase to describe a place like this. Buildings are naturally styled to blend in to the environment and aside from the glimmering private pools (present for all rooms) you can see the design is to replicate a typical Omani village.

Privacy and space

The 81 stand-alone villas are scattered over a large area and once inside feel very private and spacious. The rustic nature of the interiors with their stone floors and aged wooden adornments is supplemented with rope door handles and a private courtyard with a sand floor. Each pool is infinity edged and well sized at around 20+ sq mtre and hidden from prying eyes with a bamboo fence.

Our private pool and a  background of rugged mountains

Stone floors, natural materials, rustic space and privacy

The 15 Beachfront Pool Villas have the advantage that you can open up the front of your courtyard for direct views and access to the ocean, which virtually laps at your door come high tide. The upgrade cost of around US$400 per night (depending on season) is significant but one which many will consider worth paying for such a view. For those happy to rise early, we can happily recommend a 5am start (perhaps just once during your stay) to see the sun rising from the ocean directly in front of you.  

Sunrise from the sea in front of your villa

As well as enjoying our villa’s private pool, we could also enjoy the hotel’s shared pool which was always quiet and boasts an excellent panorama of the sea in front of you and towering mountains rearing up behind. Then yet another option is the beach and sea itself - sunbeds are set up close to the water and served by a nearby bar, with the water itself warm and clear. If, like us, you are happy to spend so much time in the water that your skin wrinkles up to the extent that your feet and hands feel like they have aged 50 years then you are sure to enjoy the place.

 From meditation to levitation....

Six Senses is famous for its spas and this is no exception. Sauna and steam room are available to all resort guests but the spa treatments themselves are well worth trying. Highly trained and experienced therapists offer a range of treatments and Indian Head Massage is highly recommended…indeed the quality of treatments reaches those on offer in our Select Collection Stockholm Spa where we have Six Senses trained specialists J.
Further ways to enjoy your time at the hotel include experiences such as snorkeling/diving trips, sunset Dhow cruises, 4WD tours, water skiing and many more options. There are also some great complimentary activities run on a weekly schedule such as “martini mixology” at the bar, meditation at the spa pavilion and kayaking.

For our earth...

One of the most impressive aspects to the hotel (and indeed all Six Senses properties as a general rule) was their environmental work. All water is from the on-site well and supplied in 1 litre glass bottles (ever replenished which was important in the summer heat) rather than plastic. The other initiative is the “non-meat Tuesdays” that is operated. Guests may well not even notice this is happening, such is the extent of the seafood buffet and vegetarian options available on this day. These two initiatives have no negative impact on the enjoyment of your stay but over the course of a year have a really noticeable impact on the environmental footprint of the property and we are hopeful this kind of action can spread to other properties

Sensational dining experience

Speaking of food…it is an absolute MUST to try the Sense-on-the-Edge restaurant during your stay. Barely visible from the ground, the restaurant is tucked in the mountains and boasts sensational views and a unique atmosphere. Cocktails and canap├ęs on the outdoor terrace began a decadent evening where we tried the chefs 7 course menu together with wine pairings. Unique dishes, excellent presentation and superb service, in a mountain location that seemed to get more awe-inspiring with every glass, made for a truly memorable evening.
Sense-on-the-Edge - roasted red pepper dish

We left the hotel the next morning as we had entered, with a 4WD journey through the mountains and a final look back to the hotel from the summit with very fond memories, full bellies and a slight headache.

Who to stay

Couples and families who want a beach holiday.

How to get to Six Senses Zighy Bay

90 minutes by car and 4WD from Dubai International Airport, 45 minutes from Ras Al Khaima

Select added value

1 bottle of wine in room. Complimentary upgrade, early checkin and late checkout if space is  available.

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