Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa
A TRAVEL REVIEW
The Sultanate of Oman has been on my travel To-Do list for a while before I actually went to see this stunning country with its impressive nature and rich history and culture. I imagined a land where time seems to stand still and I could forever wander and explore. Little did I know all my expectations would be exceeded by a country I can now call one of my favorite destinations in the world. When I planned my trip to Muscat I looked for a grand Omani resorts deeply rooted into the local culture and found exactly that at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort. Shangri-La has become one of my favorite hotel brands since I’ve started to travel extensively as they always manage to weave in local traditions and customs, design elements and the overall feeling of a destination into their hotels and resorts. Staying at a Shangri-La always makes me feel connected to the place I’m visiting.
My stay at the Shangri-La would be no exception to the high standards I’m used to from other Shangri-La’s around the world. Any kind of traveler would feel right at home here here at Bar Al Jissah – whether it’s families, friends or couples traveling as the massive 124-acre resort comprises of three resort in one hotel complex and is almost a destination itself. There’s the family friendly Al Waha, “the Oasis”, with water park fun and this part is also the least expensive of all three resorts. There’s Al Bandar, “the Main village” also designed for families with buzzing resort life and lots of entertainment, bars and boutiques. This area is a bit more upscale and all rooms are facing the beautiful sea. Guests from both Al Waha and Al Bandar have access to each other’s areas and are free to use all facilities of both complexes. For the discerning luxury travel and there’ the adults-only resort Al Husn ”the Castle” with more privacy and additional luxury benefits. The Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa lies directly between the Gulf of Oman shores and the characteristic mountains with only a 20-minute drive from Old Muscat
A stay at the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah feels like one highlight is chasing the next. When I arrived at the resort the drive there itself was magical. Along winding rocky roads our 4WD jeep made its way to the coast. The grand driveway seamed with palm trees and neatly trimmed flower bushes lead us to the apricot colored resort that looked more like an enchanted fortress than a hotel. Luxurious limousines were parked all over and I was welcomed by the concierges who were all elegantly dressed in Omani Dishdasha gowns.
I entered the Lobby and marveled at the high marbled walls and stepped on oriental carpets to fluffy they could be straight out of an Aladdin 1001 fairytale. The high-ceilinged lobby features design elements of traditional Islamic architecture and regal arches lead to a dome that is covered in gold leaf. A beautiful indoor water feature with bronze heron bird statues is part of a relaxation lounge opposite the majestic reception and check-in area. I was offered some fresh Arabic coffee and the sweet scent of Frankincense was floating through the air around me. I felt simply amazed looking around the tastefully decorated interiors while sinking into one of the softest sofas I ever sat on. From the outside, Shangri_la Al Husn’s architecture is inspired by the historic forts of ancient Oman, the inside feels more like an opulent Arabian palace. After a swift check-in I was escorted to my room. The golden afternoon light hit the peachy walls while we passed beautifully carpeted hallways and I already knew, the few nights I had arranged here would not be enough to experience everything there is to see at the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort.
It seemed as if everything in the room-down to the last detail, is planned out for guests staying at Al Husn. There’s 108 rooms and suites with five categories to choose from. In total the Shangri-La Bar Al Jissah complex has 640 beautifully appointed rooms spread out over three cohesive resort areas to offer. I stayed in a deluxe sea view room at the Al Husn resort. It was grand and comfortable, beautifully decorated and offered with unrivaled views of the pool area and turquoise waters of the sea. The room featured a king size bed as soft as a cloud, a full-size writing desk with many sockets (photographers with many batteries and gadgets to charge will love this), a dressing area with walk-in closed and a large marble bathroom with tub and rain shower. One of my favorite room features of the entire room was the TV connected Bose Sound System. I ran myself a bubble bath, ordered in-room dining and watched some shows through a large bathroom window. For complete privacy, this window can, of course, be closed with blinds. I travel extensively to luxury hotels and love thoughtful quality amenities. The impressive range of L’Occitane products got me excited straight away. I made it a habit to pack soap bar with great scents into my travel luggage so when I get home and open up my suitcase, the scent of the hotel will come back to me and remind me of my trip. There was freshly brewed tea in a large pot, daily-replenished fresh fruit and acomplimentary mini-bar as well. Guests can help themselves to daily complimentary sweets, savory snacks, soft drinks and two cans of beer, liquors are chargeable. I did not feel the need to try any of the liquors, as there’s daily complimentary pre-dinner cocktails with canapés and wines at the hotel’s courtyard. More on this further down under “Resort Perks” Another small detail that impressed me was the selection of pillows you can choose from. Depending on your personal preferences, there’s foam, feather or synthetic pillows for the most comfortable sleep. I chose the soft ones and sunk into my bed as if I slept in a marshmallow.
The Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah resort is located along a privileged and magnificent stretch of rocky coastline where sandstone cliffs meet the clear blue water. The resort ‘s remoteness is one of its many perks and guests can choose between several beach locations to bask in the sun where the bare golden cliffs plunge directly into the sea. At Al Waha and Al Bandar, there’s sunbeds at the family areas who can be enjoyed and used by everyone, the sand is clean and soft everywhere along the beach and has sandcastle construction quality A+ . If you prefer to spend your beach day a little more quietly, I recommend to treat yourself to a room or suite at the Al Husn area as this part of the resort offers the most spacious sun and day bed arrangements with several relaxation areas – all of them Adults only. I do need to point out that some rare exceptions are made with regards to children staying at Al Husn, however, this part of the resort is mostly Adults only. The beach is only a short stroll down the path from Al Husn. Should you be fully on holiday-mode and prefer not to walk, there’s buggies to take you down there as well. I really liked the fact that there’s sunbeds and loungers with lots of privacy facing both the sunset and sunrise side of the lagoon. It’s easy to spend an entire day down at the beach, there’s water sports, restaurants and a bar catering to every taste and preferences. At Al Husn, there’s also the famous cove “Muscat Arch”, a popular photo spot and an impressive natural sight to enjoy. During low-tide, it’s possible to walk into one of the caves and see the lagoon from a different angle. If you’d like to make the most of this natural wonder, I recommend to book a luxurious sunset cruise on one of the resort’s yachts.
Dining at the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort
A range of world-class restaurants, cafes and bars are spread between the three hotels With 21 food and beverage outlets offering different kinds of cuisine and dining experiences, you definitely won’t run out of culinary choices during your stay be it chic dinner spots or casual pool snacking. Two of the best restaurants are found at the Al Husn resort: “Sultanah” and “Shahrazad”
“Sultanah” is a stylish restaurant with luxury cruise theme. Each morning I enjoyed breakfast at this restaurant where you have the option of enjoying indoor and outdoor seating. Along with the extensive buffet there was an à la carte menu with special dishes such as eggs Benedict – nothing seemed to be too much trouble to the friendly breakfast staff. The breakfast experience there was extraordinary, whatever you can think of, they offer it. What a fabulous way to start the day. In the afternoon, the complimentary high-tea is served here as well. During my stay, the terrace with its stunning views there has become one of my favorite places in the resort.
If you are looking for a special dinner experience I urge you to try the “Shahrazad”, an authentic Moroccan restaurant. Shahrazad offers innovative fusion cuisine of Arabian dishes, drawn from Moroccan traditions. There’s also a fantastic selection of Lebanese wines available, and if you like to taste something stronger – a choice of Arak. We ordered a selection of many dishes – whatever you choose, try the heavenly Hummus. Evenings at Shahrazad are spent in a grand way. There’s velvet, tassels, spices and mirror mosaiks. I did not not where to look and couldn’t help but marvel at the design and atmosphere. There’s Arabic live music serenading guests and all together this place ist just fabulous. Do make a reservation, it’s a popular dinner spot.
Luxury Perks & Things to do
At the Shangri-La Bar Al Jissah you cannot help but live it up as international luxury meets Arabian perfection at its finest. Here’s some of my favorite highlights and activities at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah:
Camels at the Beach! When you travel to a place in the Middle East, of course a camel ride cannot be missed. Every day from 4pm, there’s camels and horses on the beach in front of Al Waha. The friendly camel boys will assist and make sure you have a nice experience. It’s important for me that animals in tourism get treated well and I can assure that they are well-fed and healthy. You can either ride them along the beach during sunset or take them for a walk. I wore a dress that day so I opted for a walk.
Chic Afternoon High Tea – Keep on reading if you have a sweet tooth: Daily Afternoon tea is provided on complimentary basis for Al Husn guests from 3:45pm to 4:45pm. Each day, sinful English-style tea treats are served on the al fresco terrace at “Sultanah” Restaurant. Help yourself to little sandwiches and savories, scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam along with delicious cakes and pastries - all presented on a chic cake stand.
Splash all Day around the Pool – Are you in the mood to just relax by the pool? At Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah, there is a total of 6 pools, spread out over all resorts. At Al Husn, you can pick from several lounge chairs and sunbeds to spend a day in the sun and simply relax. From the courtyard, stairs lead you further down to a large 2-storey swimming pool, which overlooks the dramatic landscape of the Gulf of Oman. The poolside is surrounded by date palms and comfortable sun loungers. The heated pool seems to effortlessly merge into the ocean. There’s also a large Jacuzzi and a waterfall feature available. The attentive pool staff with provide you with oversized towels and an individual cooling packs, filled with water, juices and Evian facial spray. It’s these little touches like this that make a hotel outstanding.
Sunset Pre-Dinner Drinks – Behind the lobby at Al Husn, there’s a large, Arabic-style courtyard where complimentary pre-dinner drinks and canapés are served every day in the evening, Right on time for sunset between 6pm and 7 pm, a selection of complimentary pre-dinner drinks and canapés are served along with some live music. There’s champagne and wines, but also some selected cocktails. It’s a lovely event where you can chat to the hotel managers and meet other guests.
Relax at Chi Spa - The chic Spa in Shangri La Al Husn allows you to enjoy a relaxing spa treatment in one of their luxurious treatment rooms. There’s also an outdoor area if you prefer natural air over an air-conditioned room. The spa itself is like a world of its own, and has won many prices. The products are by L’Occitane as well and will have you walk on clouds after your treatment.
Get Sporty – When I’m on vacation I always try to stay active and get moving. Luckily the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah has a lot of recreational perks to offer: There’s Mini Golf, several tennis courts, a health club with gym and spa, a kids club to park your little ones, a marina and dive center and a water sports center with kayaks, snorkeling and sailing.
The Shangri-La exceeded all of my high expectations and I can blindly recommend it to any type of traveler. The incredibly friendly but discrete staff are flawless. The service the resort provides is excellent and given the chance I’d stay there again in a heartbeat. Thank you Shangri-La for my fantastic vacay.
Interested in visiting this fabulous hotel? Check rates for the adult-only Shangri-La Al Husn HERE
or view rates for the family resort area Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah HERE
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