Despite the Sahab Resort & Spa being handsomely crafted out of local limestone (and hiding the odd ancient fossil here and there) first impressions are a little bit ‘meh’. Come through the hotel and out to the back, however, and the story changes considerably.
Set 2,050 feet above sea level in the Omani mountains, the views are simply jaw-dropping and well worth the long journey from Muscat airport. Spend as much time as you can gazing at the landscape - it changes with the light and is constantly mesmerising; enjoy it shrouded in mist with your morning coffee, jagged and dramatic under a deep blue sky come afternoon and crowned by a burnt orange sun at sundown.
The Sahab Resort & Spa was fully refurbished in February; the result is an authentic, homely feel. More is to come, including an open grill near the pool, a herb garden for use in the spa and restaurant, and a gift shop selling local crafts and artwork.
Walk through the small but welcoming lobby to the restaurant and you’ll feel like the hotel is quite simple and understated. Head outside and everything changes - the terrace is almost as big as restaurant itself. Sit here and let the picture unfold: a large area of Astroturf for events leads to an outdoor seating area under pagodas and – the wow-factor – a 13-metre pool with mountain views. At the bottom, there’s a small children’s pool, a play area with swings and what is soon to be a bar/grill. The whole perimeter is cordoned off by a half-height wall of glass – perfect for looking wistfully out to the distance, glass of fizz in hand.
There are 27 rooms in three categories – studio, villa and family – each decorated in earthy silvers, golds, reds and dark wood; regardless of the category, each room has a large terrace or balcony with seating – perfect for watching the sun set over the mountains.
The hotel spa is located in a separate building opposite the children’s play area, and has two treatment rooms, each with its own veranda for post-treatment chilling.
We tried the Back, Shoulder, Neck and Scalp massage (60 minutes, £84).
My therapist, Tersing, met me in the spa reception area and led me through to a spacious treatment room with ochre-hued walls.
Tersing handed me a pair of white slippers and a colourful sarong and left the room so I could make myself comfortable on the treatment bed, lying face down.
The treatment began with hot towels being pushed onto the soles of my feet followed by a bear walk through a towel – unusually Tersing mounted the treatment bed for this part, pushing down hard on my carves, buttocks, back and shoulders. It felt very grounding.
For the massage, Tersing used a pungent aromatherapy oil containing jasmine to soften my skin; she then adopted long, sweeping strokes to relax my body and mind. On finding knots (shoulders especially), Tersing used a more targeted approach.
After half an hour, Tersing asked me to turn over in preparation for the scalp massage; this she began by running the same oil through my hair using her fingertips.
The next half hour was a blur of tugging, shaking, flicking, massaging and side-to-side movements that was so intense I left the room feeling mentally lighter.
The spa is in the process of expanding its menu and, at the moment, just concentrates on massages, including back and shoulder, mindful, stress relieving and Thai. A series of facials will be added to the menu by the end of the year.
Guests eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in the hotel’s restaurant which has an eclectic menu of Omani, Indian and European dishes. Sunny day? Head out to the terrace and drink in the views. Breakfast is a buffet with fruits, eggs, sausages and bacon (made out of beef as Oman is a Muslim country), coffee, smoothies and juices – order a watermelon juice or a blueberry smoothie (or both) for a morning zing.
The same menu is adopted for both lunch and dinner but it’s copious so you won’t tire of the same dishes. The chef is Indian so expect some great curries as well as local fish dishes, hummus, Pad Thai and New Zealand lamb cutlets. Our dinner of fresh feta salad (with incredibly large lumps of cheese) followed by Chicken Majboos (spiced chicken on the bone served with rice) was exceptional.
The views are well worth the 2.5-hour windy journey from Muscat airport.
The pool: An afternoon dip followed by some lounger time is a magical way to spend an afternoon.
We didn’t love
Not having a bath tub in our room.
Families: We saw several young children enjoying the play area and small pool during our stay.
Couples: With views like this, Sahab Resort & Spa is made for romance.
Spa gurus: Omanis come from all over the country to enjoy treatments in the spa.
A visit to the local rose garden: the petals are used to make rose water, bottles of which you can buy in the hotel lobby. The locals use it to refresh their eyes and as a toner after cleansing.
Cox & King offers five nights at the Sahab Resort & Spa on a full board basis from £1,795 per person (based on two sharing) including private return transfers from Muscat airport and return economy flights with Oman Air
21st November 2019
Minimalist lines; organic products; facial massage; tranquillity; interesting people-watching.
Discarded towels on loungers; steam rooms that aren't steamy; mobile phones.
Behind the scenes