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