mylifestylenews

2017-08-04

Alila Jabal Akhdar @ A Quintessential Gem

A mountain aerie sounds very dramatic and when it is 2,000 metres above sea level in the Al Hajar Mountains of the Sultanate of Oman, this adds a very exotic touch. The sparsely treed landscape is new to us, the cliff top perch is absolutely stunning and the sense of absolute silence takes some getting used to. mylifestylenews travels to this far corners of the earth to Alila Jabal Akhdar to be immersed in the captivating mountain range and to hunt for that specific peace.


It is the best time of the year for the Omanis and tourists alike to escape the over 40 degrees summer heat at the Al Jabal Al Akhdar Green Mountain, with 15 plus degrees cooler than anywhere in the GCC countries making it the perfect place to escape the scorching heat with the stunning scenery of the dramatic canyon.


While Jabal Akhdar is often windy and arid, it does give a cooling effect to the entire resort area. Clearly this exotic resort is about the view and it is very different from many other mountain ridges we have seen in our past travels. Alila Jabal Akhdar is no doubt one of the most spectacularly located luxury resorts we have ever encountered.


Referencing the local topography and culture is an indelible imprint of all Alila’s group of hotels and resorts and Alila Jabal Akhdar manages to secretly introduce you to so many riches of the local mountain villages’ history, as well as take away all the addictions you have been used to by surreptitiously introducing you to the long forgotten sounds of silence.


Yes, the silence is magnificent and forces you to look into the arid landscape with laser precision; processing new flora and fauna that you have not seen before and looking at clouds with a sense of wonder again, as the wind whips up constantly changing shapes.


At first glance the surrounding mountains and cliffs don’t seem to have large amounts of vegetation, but closer examination reveals many rich details. You’ll immerse yourself into this landscape as if you have become a botanist that is discovering new species!


Mountain ridges are seen everywhere at Alila Jabal Akhdar


The surrounding mountains and cliffs at Alila Jabal Akhdar


Exquisite architecture design around Alila Jabal Akhdar


Alila Jabal Akhdar facade


As we approached the bottom of the mountain, some 50 minutes before our ultimate destination, we must go through a border security gate, whereby only 4 wheel drive vehicles are allowed to pass, such is the steep gradient and winding treacherous road that one must travel on to immerse yourselves in a unique luxury experience that Alila is renowned for. Yet, “Surprisingly Different” is the Alila’s slogan for doing things differently.


The locals are charming and do not hesitate to share. Our driver Mr. Saoud Salem Khais Alhandali is one of the most hospitable Omani’s by showing us his village en route to the mountain, and even thanks us for our time and willingness to see his home environs especially the local village with forts and ruins settled hundreds of years ago, as well as having the opportunity to see the dates palm plantation where the world reknown Omani dates are readily for its harvesting season.


The forts and ruins settlement in the village


With all that generous gesture Mr. Alhandali extended to us, it was to the contrary, as we were the ones that were thankful and privileged. He was being so kind to us.


Omani's palm dates plantation


Our ascent up the steep mountain was utterly pleasant, especially with Mr. Alhandali’s military trained driving skills. Trust us, it is not an easy road to drive, even if you have some good years of driving experience on such winding roads. Plus, you need to enjoy the changes of the mountain views that were quite mesmerizing. We felt extremely safe and steady in Mr. Alhandali’s good hand.


Once we have arrived on the plateau which is the resort location, the buildings are not easily discernible from a distance as they blend into the rocky landscape. Each suite block (usually four suites per building) is built in the traditional mountain village way of stone stacked on stone, so the external impression is one of roughly hewn rocks that add an artisan flare to the architecture.


Khareef season happens each year in Oman mountain range areas, between June and September. During this time, the coastal fringe of Dhofar experiences a run-in with the Indian Ocean’s monsoon season.


Periodic warm showers blanket the region, turning the dun-colored coastal plains and mountains emerald green and transforming it into a tropical paradise, with a hint of coolness during the evening. Hence the name, “The Green Mountains”.


Alila Jabal Akhdar's swimming pool - one of the highest swimming pools in the region


Beautifully designed safari motif day bed sun lounges are provided for your comfort and privacy around the pool area


Alighting from our transport, we step into a calming and gracious lobby composed of a flagstone floor to reference the exterior environs, seating upholstered in local Kilim style fabrics, studded furniture that showcases local Omani artisanship and a showpiece gas fireplace.


The gigantic fireplace in the foyer


One of the recurring motifs is the rose, as Oman is famous for its rose oil, hence a beautiful cut out screen of black roses separating the lobby from the main restaurant, which gives the lobby such an open feeling, along with the high wooden beamed ceiling.


Rose design motif in the foyer


The hallway access to the room


Subtle yet contemporary designed lamps hanging from the high ceiling


Local Kilim style fabrics catches your eyes around the resort


Tasteful and carefully selected pottery on display in the resort


Design elements with local heritage motif are seen everywhere in the resort


The lighting is deliberately toned down to create a cooling effect away from the bright glare outside. The main focus, however, are the floor-to-ceiling doors at the far end that instantly draws you to the view.


As soon as we stepped inside our Mountain View Suite, we were cocooned in the luxuries one expects from Alila, but in an understated tone to be reverential to the surroundings.


There are local textiles and exposed wooden beams and iron frames, but sumptuously comfortable beds and luxuriously appointed bathrooms and you couldn’t possibly ask for anything more.


At the first point when we stepped onto our balcony, we were stunned by the views, but, more importantly, by the silence. The surrounding mountains have goats, birdlife and other fauna.


Our Mountain View Suite overlooking the canyon


At times, time seems at its pause while looking out at the mountain in peaceful mind and it seems you are alone in a complete silence, except the occasional punctuation of the whistling wind in the afternoon and evening.


Elegantly designed bathroom with the overlooking the canyon view


Living amidst bustling city life won’t allow you to indulge and reflect within yourself, so this resort affords you the luxury of quietness and calm, whereby you can dwell on the magnificent mountain views, mystical sunsets & romantic star gazing (another highlight with the absence of city lights). The night time sky is an indulgence you should not miss, as constellations can easily be seen and identified which is an unexpected delight.


A gorgeous day spent at Alila Jabal Akhdar


Your itinerary can be completely sedentary, but excitement abounds for the more adventurous. The towering mountains of Oman offer a diversity of climbing experiences: from the steep, rocky slopes and rugged tracks that constitute a challenge for experienced mountaineers, to paved paths that are ideal for beginners.


Our second day started with a light breakfast and then we prepared for the Via Ferrata Cave Affair – a zip lining thrill, literally hooking ourselves up to a wire that is anchored into sheer cliff faces, using every muscle to control the movements, as this is not for the faint-hearted.


There is a professional coach and tutor who gives you preparatory adventure trek instructions and is with you every step of the way, as speed is not to be encouraged when you are navigating rock faces and cliffs hundreds of metres above the ravine floor. It is truly exhilarating and not to be missed, but be prepared for the soreness the next day, as you don’t realize at that moment how many unused muscles you have brought into play. You do need a little bit of guts to do this and must be born to dare. Once you signed up for this, there will be no return until you have completed the entire 2 hours journey and making your own way back by climbing back up with some routes which are practically vertical to where you started. The satisfaction is immense once you have completed this challenge and never underestimate your talents, especially the hidden ones. It is an experience that you will never forget.


The best rewards after the Via Ferrata Cave Affair is head on to the Spa Alila to have yourself pampered, or plunge yourself into the infinity pool to relax your muscles. That evening, we slept like a baby after some well prepared dinner at the Juniper restaurant.


Outdoor alfresco dining is the best way to enjoy a hearty breakfast


The next morning, we have places to go. While still a little sore from yesterday’s exercise, we chose an easier activity to the Lost Village Hike at the nearby village of Hayl Al Hadab.


The trail heads deeper into the mountain by walking through the wadi (dry riverbeds) in between an unexpected oasis awaiting us past an uninhabited and abandoned village of stone houses. It was surprising to arrive at a small dam of lush green vegetation that was full of frogs making their presence known to us intruders.


Mountain goats can be easily found around the Wadi


This can be a three hour walk, but we chose a slightly condensed version at 1.5 hours. We encountered goats feeding on the steep rocky slopes and see other littler signs of life that keep our eyes constantly scanning the landscape, as we are not entirely alone. The walks are easily marked and as the temperature tends to not rise above the high 20’s, you will never get too exhausted.


Identical trail marks for easy direction


If you don’t want to be active and fancy just lazing around and staring at the amazing mountain views, then the Rose Lounge is the place to be, which is a dedicated lounge for in-house guests only. The swimming pool also sits in front of the lounge and gives you the perfect cliff side perch. They have a great lounge menu which is extremely tempting from the Indonesian’s selection - where Alila resorts started, to international variety of comfort food.


The Classy Rose Lounge Bar serves international house pouring brands as well as signature cocktails.


The resort forces you to look inward as you contemplate the silence and wonderful views, so Yoga is a natural fit to add to your daily relaxation and there is a spectacular Yoga deck for this that is perched on the edge of the gorge, where you can either catch the first rays of the morning sun or a stunning sunset that drenches the mountains in subtle hues at the end of the day. There is no better way to achieve that zen moment while breathing through slow flowing movements that stretch the body, improve your balance and elevate your spirit, all of which is encouraged by the in-house Yoga instructor.


Our two days in Allia Jabal Akhdar were enriched yet relaxing, without a city’s supersonic presence, and we spent most of our time chilling by the pool and being active with wadi walks and zip lining up and down sheer cliffs. Of course, we always returned to the view of the mountains and gathered a moment of quiet contemplation.


Gazing out the mountain's nature wonder from the balcony is one of the best way to enjoy the peace and calm in Alila Jabal Akhdar


Our last morning in particular felt like a special privilege as the blue sky was revealed from the early morning mist and we saw birds migrating in that pattern where they heave and settle and it is inspiring.


This is a once in a lifetime rare experience to be looking out over at the Jabal Akhdar Al Hajar Mountains, so near and yet so far from civilization. Sometimes, it is not how far you could travel, it is about what you will discover when you travel. With that thought in mind, you have to make the journey up the mountain to experience the Alila way of natural wonder in Oman.


Tried & Tested:
Location: 5/5
Design & Decor: 5/5
Room Amenities: 4.5/5
Food & Beverages: 4/5
Housekeeping: 4.5/5
Service: 4.5/5
Value For Money: 5/5
Experience: 5/5

Highlights:
The Dramatic Mountain Views

 Al Roose, Jabal Al Akhdar
Al jabal Al Akhdar 621
Sultanate of Oman
Tel: +968 2534 4200

Reviews are based on actual day of visit and experience. mylifestylenews reserves the right of final decision in case of any disputes. All images are photographed by mylifestylenews team without any photoshop enhancement and are the property owned by mylifestylenews unless otherwise stated.