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Hotel review: Six Senses Hideaway, Zighy Bay, Oman

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Move over Dubai, there is a new leading resort hotel in Arabia, Zighy Bay in Oman. Step back in time to the traditional architecture of a beach village with the highest modern hospitality standards of the environmentally friendly Six Senses Group.

Entering this resort is an experience to remember. It is truly a hidden bay, accessible only by 4×4 over a 1,000-foot high mountain barrier and down some tight hairpin bends.

You are then in Zighy time, one hour ahead of Dubai. And yet you can land at Dubai Airport and the transit time is just two hours, so this hideaway is actually easily accessible.

Perfect location

The resort is the brainchild of one of the owners who used to come to this spot by boat over 25 years ago and always saw it as ideal location for the ultimate hotel. Zighy Bay is a perfect sandy beach framed by mountains and the unspoiled wilderness of the Musandam peninsula.

Six Senses has brought its hospitality expertise from places like The Maldives and Thailand to Zighy Bay. There are 79 luxuriously appointed individual villas fashioned from local rock and palm leaves, with outside showers and the best have beachfronts.

But where this resort really scores is the absolute privacy it affords all its guests. The spacious villas have their own plunge pools and seating areas that can be completely shielded from public view. For film stars, sheikhs and corporate retreats there are two giant super villas.

Eco-conscious

Inside the Six Senses commitment to eco-conscious hospitality is evident with water bottled in the resort to reduce its carbon footprint. Perhaps that works as a carbon offset for the convenient individual wine cellar fridge. Anyway there is no compromise on creature comforts.

Within the resort is a large Six Senses Spa with a huge selection of treatments, again in a complex of rooms in traditional style as are all the public rooms in this resort. My wife enjoyed a Hamman treatment to purify her skin from toxins. I plumped for a rigorous holistic massage.

The complex also has a substantial gym. Less strenuous resort activities include an unforgettable sunset cruise in a speedboat up the coast of the Musandam and diving trips. You can also choose to paraglide into the resort rather than arrive by 4×4.

Nobody is likely to go hungry at Zighy Bay, although the food tends towards lighter, smaller portions with an emphasis on accenting natural flavors. It is a gourmet experience, and something quite different from the ubiquitous hotel buffets of Dubai (see this restaurant review).

Unlucky start

Since opening Zighy Bay has been hit by a triple whammy: first a cyclone, then something called a Red Tide – a natural algae that colors the water that usually lasts for days and not months as it did recently but is now completely gone – and finally by the global financial crisis.

Cool Australian resort manager Wayne Lunt says RevPAR is running 20 per cent down on a year ago, exactly in line with the business drop in Dubai hotels. His response is to seek more visitors from emerging markets as well as from the Gulf where a slump in local rental costs has left those still employed with higher disposable incomes.

Yet in a recession pricing is probably the main issue, and Zighy Bay is not cheap, and it maybe that more special package deals will be needed to lure more guests. But what you get will exceed expectations, and this is currently the best resort that the Gulf has to offer in the opinion of this reviewer.

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Written by Peter Cooper

December 21, 2009 at 9:56 am

Posted in Aviation, Culture, Hotels, Travel

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