5 Luxury Middle Eastern Escapes
Alila Jabal Akhdar, Oman
Jabal Akhdar (Green Mountain) sits 2,000 metres above sea level in Oman’s Al Hajar Mountains. Built from local stone using traditional Omani construction techniques, this elegant 84-suite property blends seamlessly into the mountain landscape. Spend a day or two relaxing on the terrace, taking regular dips in the infinity pool, marvelling at the spectacular panoramic view and revivifying yourself in Spa Alila. Then start to explore. Wander across the Saiq Plateau, basking in the Mediterranean climate and investigating the crags, gorges and uninhabited villages or chat to the concierge about hiking, trekking, mountaineering, butterfly hunting or stargazing.
The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE
Located in the 500-hectares of protected desert that constitute the Al Wadi Nature Reserve, The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert’s villa suites, inspired by Bedouin tents, each have their own desert-facing deck, replete with pool, where you can watch local birds, Arabian Oryx and gazelle. There are four restaurants, including Farm House, with its menu packed with prime cuts of meat, and Moorish, a winning combination of Spanish tapas and Moroccan design. If you’re feeling lethargic, check out the hydrothermal facilities and extensive treatment menu in the large, luxurious spa, if you’re hankering for a spot of action then try your hand at activities including archery and falconry.
Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea, Dead Sea, Jordan
Where better to relax than flat on your back in the salt waters of Jordan’s Dead Sea? Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea is the most luxurious resort in the region – and it’s a behemoth featuring 345 rooms. However, its elegant exterior of pale native stone and split-level design, nine swimming pools, all with Dead Sea views, and rows of palm and olive trees lend it a more intimate feel than most large resorts. When you’ve had your fill of floating in the salt waters and lathering yourself in Dead Sea mud, leave the outside world behind for a few hours in the 10,000 Sqm Ishtar Spa.
Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman
If James Bond decided to take a break on Oman’s Musandam Peninsula, he would choose Six Senses Zighy Bay. He would probably opt to paraglide in or arrive by speedboat (both options), but it’s perfectly acceptable to allow one of the resort’s 4x4 drivers to negotiate the narrow, rocky path up and down the mountainside hugging this isolated bay. Constructed of stone and wood with traditional Omani architectural features, the villas, all with their own pools, manage to be both rustic and luxurious. Pick one with direct access to the beach. Head to the spa and sign up to a three- or five-day Sense of Oman programme or speak to Luvuyo Mabusela, a former professional cricketer and the hotels Resident Fitness Expert, about booking a movement efficiency test or a private Pilates or ashtanga yoga session. When the day is done, it’s time for dinner in Sense on the Edge, Zighy Bay’s signature restaurant, perched on the mountainside 293 metres above sea level. Bond would certainly approve of that.
Four Seasons, Beirut
When it comes to five star service, Four Seasons is up there with the world’s best. Although the brand is a global powerhouse, the Beirut property has a uniquely Lebanese feel. The open-air 26th floor rooftop is the place to be at sunset, with unrivalled views over the city and the Mediterranean Sea beyond. You’ll also find impressive sights from many of the rooms and suites, which are all designed to blend traditional Middle Eastern interiors with a slick, modern twist.