The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE -

To mark its 10th an­niver­sary of ser­vices to Aus­tralia, Eti­had has an­nounced dou­ble daily A380 flights be­tween Syd­ney and Abu Dhabi, ef­fec­tive Oc­to­ber 29. All three daily flights be­tween Abu Dhabi and Lon­don Heathrow are also op­er­ated with A380s. A Fly­ing Nanny, trained by Bri­tain’s Nor­land Col­lege, is on board ev­ery A380 flight to pro­vide sup­port for fam­i­lies with young chil­dren. Eti­had op­er­ates reg­u­lar daily flights of about an hour’s du­ra­tion be­tween Abu Dhabi and Mus­cat. More: eti­ Tour op­er­a­tors such as Ei­hab Trav­els pro­vide trans­fers and tours that can be booked from Aus­tralia through Bench In­ter­na­tional, which also has an eight-day Ex­otic Oman Su­pe­rior pack­age from $4485 per per­son twin-share ex Mus­cat, in­clud­ing most meals, ac­com­mo­da­tion at lux­ury ho­tels and a desert camp, air-con­di­tioned 4WD trans­port with English-speak­ing driver and guide, and en­trance fees. More: ben­; touris­mo­ • anan­ • to ex­plore sparsely in­hab­ited set­tle­ments, steeply an­gled and hewn from stone, sur­rounded by wild figs, olives and ju­nipers and roamed by goats and don­keys. If you are com­pletely fear­less, or pos­si­bly mad, try the Via Fer­rata on a steel cable that runs along the cliff edge and drops you 20m on “steep and ex­cit­ing climbs”. A 30-minute drive down loop­ing roads leads to Nizwa, named Cap­i­tal of Is­lamic Cul­ture in 2015, and dom­i­nated by a 17th­cen­tury fort where would-be in­vaders were re­pelled with boil­ing date oil. The sur­round­ing souk is a trove of sil­ver jew­ellery, beaten brass trea­sures, bot­tles of rose­wa­ter, flower buds dis­pensed by the scoop, lid­ded clay pots to store oil, a fair rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Oman’s hun­dreds of va­ri­eties of dates, and bars of frank­in­cense soap.

Stay put at the re­sort? The canyon-edge in­fin­ity pool is the place to splash at sun­set and there are movies un­der the stars, a re­mark­ably large and well-re­sourced chil­dren’s and teens’ club, ten­nis, yoga, and the invit­ing realms of Anan­tara Spa. Sadly, how­ever, the spa ex­pe­ri­ence is oddly un­der­whelm­ing, with dif­fi­dent staff and no guid­ance re­gard­ing how to use lock­ers or where to wait for a ther­a­pist. The promised “home­made nu­tri­tious snacks, dried fruit, smooth­ies and herbal teas” trans­late dur­ing my visit to a bot­tle of wa­ter left for me on a chair. My ap­point­ment is in the late af­ter­noon on what must have been a busy day for the spa team but it’s a ma­jor fail for a re­sort chain that prides it­self on the well­ness ex­pe­ri­ence. Com­peti­tor re­sort Alila Ja­bal Akd­har, close by and also a mem­ber of an Asian-head­quar­tered chain, de­liv­ers a spa ex­pe­ri­ence that is miles above and be­yond.

But wait, there’s more. Anan­tara Al Ja­bal Al Akhdar’s sis­ter re­sort in Oman, Al Baleed Re­sort Salalah by Anan­tara, is by the sea in the coun­try’s south, be­tween a white­sand beach and a la­goon. A rea­son to re­turn to Oman? Yes, please.

The in­hos­pitable ter­rain of a moun­tain range on the Mu­san­dam Penin­sula in north­ern Oman is an un­likely

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