Head for the hills

We find a true eco-re­treat in the moun­tains of ru­ral Oman

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We’re no strangers to lux­ury here in the UAE. But when you live in a bustling, sky­scraper-filled ur­ban play­ground, some­times true lux­ury means ac­cess to wide open spa­ces, stun­ning nat­u­ral scenery and plenty of peace and quiet.

If that sounds like the sort of get­away you’re crav­ing, the Alila Ja­bal Akhdar could be just the ticket. Tucked away in the heart of the Al Ha­jar Moun­tains, 2,000 feet above sea level, this bou­tique ecore­sort is a hill­side re­treat that al­lows you to get away from it all with­out fore­go­ing the com­fort of mod­ern ameni­ties.

Lo­cated ei­ther a two-hour drive from Mus­cat In­ter­na­tional or a six-hour drive from Dubai, the ho­tel is only ac­ces­si­ble by 4x4, but don’t worry if you aren’t up to the chal­lenge: trans­fers are pro­vided from ei­ther the air­port or from a po­lice check­point at the start of the moun­tain drive. Plus, the ef­fort that it takes to reach the Alila just adds to the sense of seclu­sion and won­der once you ar­rive.

Com­bin­ing tra­di­tional Omani el­e­ments with a con­tem­po­rary eco-chic de­sign, ev­ery ef­fort has been made to use the raw ma­te­ri­als of the nat­u­ral land­scape in the ho­tel’s con­struc­tion, cre­at­ing an ex­te­rior of stone and wood that blends al­most seam­lessly into the moun­tain­side. The rooms them­selves are min­i­mal­ist, mono­chrome and won­der­fully com­fort­able. We loved our crisp white bed­ding, sunny ter­race over­look­ing a dra­matic gorge and stone bath­tub set by the win­dow so you can soak up the moun­tain views while you bathe. Al­ter­na­tively, you could also re­lax be­side the gorgeous out­door in­fin­ity pool, un­wind in the Jacuzzi-like in­door pool or head to the Alila Spa for some se­ri­ous pam­per­ing.

For more en­er­getic pur­suits, the ho­tel or­gan­ises a num­ber of ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing hikes and treks through the sur­round­ing moun­tains and wadis led by lo­cal Omani guides. If you’re feel­ing ad­ven­tur­ous, you could even try the Via Fer­rata, a pro­tected climb­ing route that gets the adren­a­line pump­ing and is def­i­nitely best suited to those with a good ba­sic level of fit­ness.

What re­ally sets the Alila apart from other ho­tels in Oman though (aside from the stun­ning lo­ca­tion), is the ef­fort to make the most of the

nat­u­ral land­scape while tak­ing care to min­imise the re­sort’s en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact – it was the first ho­tel in Oman to be LEED (Lead­er­ship in En­ergy and En­vi­ron­men­tal De­sign) cer­ti­fied for its com­mit­ment to min­imis­ing en­ergy use, wa­ter use and green­house gases.

Just as im­por­tantly, Alila has strong ties to the lo­cal com­mu­nity. In your rooms you’ll find paint­ings by lo­cal artists, in the restau­rant you’ll find pro­duce from lo­cal farms, and many of the ho­tel em­ploy­ees have been re­cruited from lo­cal vil­lages. This is ecolux­ury with a so­cial con­science.

Just one thing to keep in mind. Tem­per­a­tures are sig­nif­i­cantly colder up on the moun­tain, rang­ing from 10 to 15 de­grees lower than in Dubai, so be sure to pack your cosiest jumpers.

Plot No.4 Al Roose, Ja­bal Al Akhdar, Nizwa, Oman, from Dhs2,200 half board. Tel: (+968) 25344200. alila­ho­tels.com

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