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: etihad.com. 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: benchafrica.com.au; tourismoman.com.au. • anantara.com • sixsenses.com 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