Sat sleepily along an impossibly peaceful, palm-fringed beach in Salalah, Oman, Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara has proven itself to be an idyllic Middle Eastern hideaway
Anantara has long been famous for achieving the utmost in opulence, and its influence has spread across lush islands, desert sands and uncharted beaches. And as Salalah’s first and only luxury pool villa property, Al Baleed Resort is unsurprisingly in demand; offering a bespoke, one-of-kind holiday experience that many could only aspire to. The residence’s majestic design is immediately impressive upon arrival. Inspired by antiquated Omani fortresses that once dominated the region’s landscape, a whitewashed interior is both contemporary and characterful. Kissed by moonlight, a grand wide-set arch invites visitors inside, away from the warm night air and into a light and airy, homely reception that’s defined by high ceilings, marble floors and dark wooden beams. After checking in, flickering lanterns line lush tropical gardens and water walkways which quietly guide us to our breath-taking pool villa. Heavy wooden gates protect each private residence, each of which are surrounded by imposing brick walls for maximum privacy and seclusion. Once inside, a private temperature-controlled swimming pool and living quarters await, decked in rich traditional fabrics of ruby-red, ivory and charcoal. Old-fashioned shutters adorn floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the sapphire-blue pool, while an egg-shaped bath and spacious shower decorate the fully-tiled high-end bathroom. Nestled between a private beach and freshwater lagoon, the resort’s identity is focused around water, as well as Oman’s cultural heritage. Located in the southern province of Dhofar, renowned for its summer monsoon that brings much-welcomed rain spells to an otherwise sweltering desert, much of the region’s character has been influenced by Oman’s former territories in East Africa. Tropical fruit plantations and an ancient frankincense trade make up much of Salalah’s storied life tapestry, while beautiful beaches make for day excursions. Mughsail, in particular, is worth a visit. Precariously perched on a dramatic cliff’s edge, it is an area famed for its violent blowholes in the undercliff, which force powerful spirts of seawater up through crevices in the rock.
Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara is also a mere stone’s throw away from Al Baleed Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Listed Site, as well as the Botanical Gardens and Museum of Frankincense. Despite these attractions, it is tempting, however, to remain at the luxury villa resort and its untouched stretch of coastline smothered in sugar-dusted white sand. Low-rise villas and the hotel’s main building overlook a picture-perfect infinity pool, which to our delight is surprisingly calm and largely unoccupied, with the exception of a few couples frolicking and the odd guest lounging on an understated inflatable. Away from the pool, beach volleyball, tennis, sunset yoga and camel rides are on offer, as well as scuba diving and dolphin watching, schools of which visit the shores in large numbers, particularly between October and March. With 136 rooms, villas and pool villas to choose from, as well as numerous facilities including a fully-equipped gym, kids club, library and gaming room, it’s little wonder as to why this beachside property is proving so popular among locals and tourists alike. Service is relaxed and well-meaning, with each staff member eager to cater to your every whim. A hidden gem in a historically-rich region, Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara surely won’t disappoint.
The resort boasts three restaurants, all of which make use of indigenous ingredients found in tropical plantations and the Arabian Gulf. Sakalan is ideal for all-day dining, thanks to its breath-taking terrace that offers unrivalled views of the ocean. The breakfast buffet boasts a selection of cereals and pastries, as well as an impressive à la carte menu. Al Mina, meanwhile, captures the vibrant Mediterranean – ideal for beach or poolside loungers, as well as those looking for a spontaneous bite to eat after a full day of sightseeing. Equity’s favourite, however, would have to be Mekong. Exceptional Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine is served in an elegant dining room, or al fresco, drenched in candlelight. Supremely romantic, this restaurant ticks all the right boxes.
Local guides employed by the resort – self-styled ‘gurus’ – are the perfect way to explore Salalah. Learn about the city’s history and heritage by those who have experienced it first-hand, and gain intimate insights about the region’s most popular sites, from the old Haffah souk in Salalah Old Town, which is famous for selling quaint Dhofari souvenirs, to the coastline’s most colourful fishing villages that throb with the sounds of business and local trade. The spa is designed to reflect local culture and craftsmanship. Sensual journeys draw on the exotic and long-standing traditions of Arabia and the architecture of the spa itself is built to feel like an intimate ‘door’s always open’ villa. Salalah’s natural wellness secrets are explored and perfected through numerous ingredients and treatments such as coconut shell brushing, pomegranate anti-ageing, and nourishing coconut butter. Holistic Thai, Ayurvedic and Arabian therapies are on offer, thus combing the best of the East and the West, which is demonstrated with the spa’s signature massage, which uses frankincense to revitalise and replenish.
BOOK YOUR STAY
The Deluxe Garden View Room for two adults and one child is available from Dhs1,160 per night. Travelling with a group of friends or extended family? Book the Three Bedroom Royal Beach Villa for Dhs12,699.