Question: have you ever witnessed a beach so untouched, you actually feel like you are the first person to discover it? I have, and it’s all down to Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara in Oman.
Seriously, this tropical oasis - Salalah’s first luxury pool villa resort - perched on the south coast of the country, is the perfect destination for anyone looking to take a T.O. from daily life for a hot second and truly drink up natural surroundings.
I had the pleasure of staying at the five-star resort for two blissful days in August during the monsoon season known as Khareef. It lasts for three months from July to September, and during this period of time the dry climate becomes wet and tropical: the temperate prides itself as being 10-degrees cooler than sizzling Dubai, and the landscape is green and vibrant. Impressive, right?
Here’s exactly what you have to do to get the most out of your trip to the ancient port city originally used to trade frankincense, Arabian horses and gold…
1. Conduct a photoshoot in your private pool villa
The resort has 136 rooms in total, including two and three-bedroom villas with views of the ocean, garden or freshwater lagoon. The hideaways star a private plunge pool and terrace, and inside there’s a large lounge/kitchen, bedroom and bathroom overlooking the pool. I loved the incredibly extra pillow menu (memory foam, non-allergic, cotton…) and I was super pleased to see large glass water bottles positioned around the villa instead of plastic (the hotel scrapped single-use plastic nine months ago). Next, I’d like to see refillable shampoo, soap and conditioner tubs please.
2. Be outdoorsy on the long white beach and beyond
Complimentary blue bicycles are dotted around the resort to make use of plus kayaking, paddle boarding and yoga classes are up for grabs on the beach. If you’re not a gym goer (don’t blame you), all guests have access to the Al Baleed Archaological Park, the perfect place for a morning run, and there’s an outdoor tennis court and speedboat or dhow for dolphin watching available to book.
3. Get the kinks worked out with a Frankincense massage
Honestly, is there anything more wonderful than a spa? I’ll answer that, nope. Brimming with Elemis goodies, the oasis of calm boasts a steam room, 2 single, 2 couple, 1 Thai and 1 Hamman treatment room – the biggest in Salalah, no less. I signed up to the 60-minute Anantara Signature Massage with Frankincense Fusion (Dhs554). Having Frankincense oil, known as the perfume capital of Arabia, rubbed into my skin left me feeling incredibly relaxed and restored.
4. Fine dine on sharing dishes of local produce
The local way of eating is to share all dishes, and eating with hands is common and welcomed. While I swerved the latter, I made full use of three restaurants on site. First up was Sakalan, the all-day dining venue, where I waddled to each morning for breakfast. The buffet was truly superb, and starred local bread, sugar cane, bananas and coconuts.
Lunch took place at the beach bar restaurant, Al Mina, overlooking the infinity pool and pristine beach. I gorged on seafood plucked straight from the ocean, and the best Labneh I’ve ever tasted.
Dinner was reserved for Mekong, their signature Asian restaurant. There, I feasted on a seductive menu of cuisines from Thailand, China and Vietnam. Dine on the lantern-lit terrace overlooking the peaceful lagoon.
P.S: the resort is launching vegan menu on 1 September, so watch this space.
5. Do go chasing waterfalls in the mountains
Waterfalls in Salalah are one of the best things in Khareef besides pleasant weather, obvs. There are plenty to choose from (Ayn Athum, Ayn Khor (Koor) and more), and Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara offers a beach picnic menu, takeaway hampers filled with luxury foodie items like potato salad, baguettes, roast chicken and brownies. You can also rent chairs and tents and arrange a driver - or hire a 4X4 - and head into the mountains to explore.
A reminder that Omanis are friendly people, but respect is important. When you’re out of the resort it’s important to dress modestly so as not to offend.
Untouched beaches, soaring mountains, waterfalls, coconut and banana plantations – Salalah is a little slice of paradise and lucky for you I’m willing to share.
Al Baleed Resort by Anantara. Deluxe rooms starts from Dhs793, a one bedroom garden view pool villa starts from Dhs1,605 per night