Today’s review is from David Barnes. If you are looking for hotels in Oman, check out our review of the Jumeirah Muscat Bay which would be the perfect twin centre holiday with this one.
Alila Jabal Akhdar Hotel, Oman
The journey from Muscat to the escarpment overlooking part of the Al Hajar mountain range, which is home to the Alila Jabal Akhdar hotel (now a Hyatt property), is not the most scenic in Oman, but it gets better as you climb away from the capital, and golly, is it worth the two and a half hour drive once you arrive, at 6,500 feet above sea level.
The hotel opened in 2014 as an architectural project using traditional elements of Omani construction and design. An emphasis on the natural environment means that the hotel makes huge efforts to be eco-friendly, with an organic farm supplying much of its produce and the rest coming from no more than around 150 miles away if practicable.
I’d spent time in Muscat at the Chedi, after which most hotels would prove a let-down, but not the Alila. In addition to the ‘basic’ half-board package – which makes the fairly steep nightly ‘rack rate’ look almost like a bargain – the hotel emphasises tailored packages for guests. Many of these will be food-related, as I learnt from the Food and Beverage Manager, a delightful Kiwi called Courtenay Hendricks [she prefers to be known as ‘Gin’ by her team due to the difficulty the latter has in pronouncing her real first name].
The rooms make good use of local stone and, like those of The Chedi in general, adopt a pared-back minimalist aesthetic to the artwork on walls – by which I mean there is very little of it.
Mind you, if you’ve got natural stone and decent lighting from sculptured metal pieces, a couple of large mirrors, and a huge Nespresso machine, as was my case in Suite 37, it could be said that you don’t need much extra ‘stuff’ around. Toiletries were not identified but were especially fragrant and luxurious, with glorious notes of thyme, cedarwood and argan oil to the fore.
In short, the hotel is an oasis of refined calm; the staff get around on bicycles with goods panniers attached, or walk, and most staff members are accommodated on site. Those we encountered spoke highly of the ‘human resource’ side of things at the hotel.
You are required to use a 4-wheel drive vehicle to access the hotel, which is about the only non-ecologically friendly element of staying there. I’d go back like a shot. The peace and quiet of the location, the friendliness of the staff, the emphasis on sustainable architecture and hospitality, and the quality of the bedlinen all make the Alila a no-brainer for a totally relaxing break.