London lifestyle & travels with kids and babies
We knew about superb Omani coastline before we went, but the dramatic Al Hajar mountains by Alila Oman and stunning ridges were a jaw dropping surprise. And the views lured us so much that I found myself Via Ferrata climbing, an adrenalin fuelled mad 2 hours, parallel to the steep slopes and with the steel cable as an only semblance of some safety.
And what better place to capture a joyous surprise ? Meaning surprise in Sanskrit, Alila lives fully to its name and brand at Jabar Akhdal – an epitome of sustainable luxury and perfect integration into a stunning rocky mountains scenery.
The climbing is also a truly unique Alila experience and none of the climbing as I ever knew it; no trekking pathway but sheer drops and the route of a metal wire, securing and clipping the harness every other minute around the fixings.
I have been spoilt by cool Salim, my dedicated guide for the occasion. And ‘trust the cord’ above that deep gorge and ‘just lean back’ against those edges was anything but what my mind or body wanted.The initial joyous banter became a collection of ‘sh#t’, ‘cr#p’ , ‘are you f###ing serious’ – none appropriate for the lovely audience of this blog!
But if there was one man who could get me over the line, Salim was the one. Strategies about gripping and stepping, hugging and becoming one with the mountain, clipping and unclipping were occasionally debated on Via Ferrata Oman – but this has been ultimately mind over canyon. Omani bagpipes in the valley and mad shaking of the rope were the icing on the slopes / Salim’s funniest touches !
My other half gracefully declined Via Ferrata climbing; supervising a toddler napping was the perfectly sensible option from the beautiful wooden deck of our suite terrace! I envied him badly early trek but thereafter gave in the shaking, vertigo and feeling alive. This has been a life time exhilarating madness!
Al Hajar mountains are Oman’s geological backbone, stunning and extending all the way along the east coast of the country, from Sur to the Musandam Peninsula. Jebel al Akhdar is known for fruit orchards laid out in terraces: wallnuts, pomegranates, juniper trees, Damascus roses.
Nearby there is the heart of the old Omani Imamate, including the unesco patrimony Nizwa and fortresses, but they had to wait for the next Omani trip!
My amazing Omani climbing guru took us also on an exploratory little trip, going around the butterfly path looking for fossils, looking for out of this world scented Damascus roses and Juniper trees. The latter are no longer in abundance (how they used to be) but still around and a theme gracefully integrated at Alila, from the superb Juniper restaurant, to the juniper tree motifs hand painted and adorning the suites.
Alila’s villas and suites are so well fused into the vegetation and the rocky landscapes: low rise, carved in local stone and graciously spread on the edges of the canyons. There’s a superb infinity pool: rough hewn, dark and curved, with cabanas and beds spread around. Behind a wall of floor-to-ceiling glass, there’s also a small indoor heated plunge pool, framed by stone columns and inviting loungers.
Alila treated us with a wonderful suite with dark carved-wood furniture and in rich chocolate colours.
A stunning stone terrace with wooden deck was perfect for the most scenic sunsets and stargazing in privacy. The bathrooms are huge and light filled; such a blessing to observe from the ovoid marble bath the wilderness and the sun going down. Even a 2 years old got the magic of it!
And whilst the adults loved the set up, our kids loved the Play KidsClub. Archery classes, cooking and lots of socialising kept them perfectly entertained, with our 5 years old reluctant to leave even for swimming or dinner time, Alila Oman with kids is blissful!
We loved Alila’s tea served each day 4pm for the guests, some exciting culinary marriages, served by the Rose lounge.
In the evening one can hang out around the fireplace inside, stargazing on the heated deck or in the privacy of its own suite and indulge into gastronomic delights at the Juniper restaurant.
As one feasts with the eyes and soul with Al Hajar mountains, your taste buds will be spoilt at Juniper with rich flavours, seasonal local produce crafted to gastronomic perfection.
The Arabic influences are there but the menu stretches from the trade routes of the Middle East to Mediterranean and wider internationally. 2 days of surprises but Juniper restaurant being voted as the best in Oman did not come as a surprise at all!
The wine collection is superb, we indulged into Lebanese awarded ones to Argentineans. The deserts out of this world as well, and presentation exquisite. Last but not least in the slightest, the other irresistable factor of Alila Jabal Akhdar was the lack of plastic – we have not seen a single one, from amazing toiletries in the room, to glass water bottles, to paper staws in cocktails and so on! And commitment to sustainable and eco friendly means the world to us and a better world for our kids!
Oh Al Hajar mountains and Alila Oman, how I’d love to be back ! For more Omani inspiration and our 10 days adventure and luxury, head to my itinerary article in here; for Muscat and Shangri La head here ; for Ras Al Jinz turtle reserve here and Muscat Kempinski and favourite daytrips head here.
Disclosure: Thanks so much to Alila’s wonderful hospitality and media rates. Overexcited impressions, longing to be back and cheeky kids, as usual all mine.