The Mountain Escape: Anantara Al Jabal Al Adkhar
Departing from Dubai, you’ll barely clear an episode of your Netflix queue before you touch down in Muscat, though the dramatic change in landscape would suggest you’re much further from home. Here, you’ll be greeted by an endless backdrop of rugged mountains bursting from lush greenery previously reserved for South-East Asia. Welcome to Oman.
Let’s cut to the chase. The real magic of Oman is accessible only in a 4x4, at over six thousand feet above sea level – the mountain ranges of Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountain). Until earlier this decade, these hazy mountain ranges were previously closed off to tourists and reserved primarily for the Omani military. Still, an army checkpoint remains as more of a formality to ensure brave punters only attempt the hairpin mountain roads with the mandatory 4x4.
It’s only when the ascent begins that you truly comprehend the inherent beauty of the Jebel Akhdar region. As you climb past mountain goats, native pomegranate trees and the odd settlement on the two-hour drive, you lose more than your worries: temperature. Whilst it was 35 degrees Celsius in the Omani capital, you hit a breezy 24 degrees by the time you reach Anantara Al Jabal Al Adkhar.
First things first, the front-row seat to one of the Grand Canyons of the Middle East. Here you’re suspended 6,500ft above sea level, overlooking the highest peaks and deepest valleys of the Jebel Akhdar mountain range. Walking through the fortress-inspired architecture, the Anantara signature touch is clear: like its other five-star properties, the design strikes a deliberate balance between local architecture and moody modern cues that make for a familiar-yet-otherworldly experience on the cliff’s edge. All 82 rooms and 33 villas feel somehow native to the region – the terracotta hues receding effortlessly into the mountain panorama. The grounds meet at the crescendo of the infinity pool practically hanging over the peak’s edge and neighbouring the famous Diana’s Point. Visited by the late Princess Diana in 1986, the viewing point is the perfect spot for sunset.
The death-defying drop lends itself to some pretty adventurous opt-ins: like rock climbing and abseiling. Not for the faint-hearted, the 75-foot plunge into the Hajar Mountains is one way to take in the view in all its glory, replete with an Instagram-worthy photo (go on, then). Or, go for the village walk to encounter Omani villages accessible only by balancing on traditional irrigation pipelines amongst the native apricots, frankincense and pomegranates with your local guide.
Our tip? Skip the standard rooms in favour of the Cliff Pool Villa. There isn’t much to explore beyond the resort, so booking wisely is a must – and a gentle warning: it is a child-friendly resort, so doubling-down on your quarters is one way to guarantee peace and quiet. Here, your suite is your own unique vantage point of the mountains. The design feels grand yet comfortable, with both the living quarters and master bedroom facing out onto a stupidly striking view. The secluded deck stretches out across the entire width of the private residence, granting ample space for sunbathing in total tranquillity. While the days away with a good book by the cleverly heated infinity pool – the odd mountain goat will be your only interruption.
These moments of opulence aren’t just hallmarked by the view, though. Shout-out to the shower room, with a hammam-inspired style featuring intricate tile detailing from floor-to-ceiling and meeting at a towering rain-head. For maximum indulgence, step into the soaking tub, where a private concierge will tailor the bath salts best suited to your needs.
Looking for more? Well, the height of luxury is just a short walk from your villa – the Anantara Spa, an icon in its own right. Here, at the highest spa retreat in Oman, indulge in rituals inspired by the nature bespoke to this region – the fragrant Damask rose or the revitalising pomegranate. Our pick is the Royal Hammam & Massage ritual – choose from Moroccan or Turkish, and have your body cleansed via a tried-and-tested Ottoman ceremony. That is, naturally, followed by Anantara’s signature massage – here, there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing.
So the question is, just is it all worth the trek? Absolutely. This is a holiday that’s all about the satisfaction of that journey: leave in the morning, and you’ll be breathing fresh mountain air by sunset.