While many travelers only get as far as Muscat, Oman as a destination has more options than you think, beside the majestic mountain ranges and you will discover more options by heading further south to Salalah, the capital city of southern Oman’s Dhofar province for a more pristine beach front vacation by the Arabian Sea. Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara has something uniquely Anantara to offer. mylifestylenews writes.
Once you leave the airport, nothing is too far away, so we did not have far to go to arrive at the Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara. Nestled between a beach and a freshwater lagoon, Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara is the first and only luxury pool villa resort among Salalah hotels/resorts. It is very low-rise apart from the main reception building, so it has quite a large footprint, even though the number of rooms and villas is only 136.
On arrival we were a little taken aback by the reception design, as it didn’t really have that luxury resort wow factor touch by the first impression and looked a little clinical from its design elements and color tone especially at the reception area.
We were ushered into the lobby lounge overlooking the beachsdie of the resort through a large window with a direct view of the swimming pool and the sea, which was a bit more of an introduction to the resort design and Oman beach front excitement made us feel a little more relaxed in anticipation of what the resort offered.
We were allocated a 176sqm One Bedroom Garden View Pool Villa, which was away from yet within walking distance from the beach.
We felt lucky that this was our new home for a few days, as the beach front means any passerby can peer into your private space, whereas ours was an enclosed courtyard design, onto which the bathroom, bedroom and living room overlooked and we could step out of our spacious bathroom and jump straight into our own private pool, which is really a touch of luxury at its best!
And it seemed quieter in this location, amongst the coconut palm trees and meandering grass and stone paths. The in-villa courtyard has a sun lounge cabana and an adjacent cushioned seating area – one covered and one exposed, depending on how much sun you wish to enjoy and also a perfect spot for yoga. Thoroughly and thoughtfully designed.
The villa was incredibly spacious and could easily accommodate more than one couple, but one couple it was and we felt that we were cocooned in a tropical haven at its most fabulous.
We were not left wanting for anything – luxurious amenities on arrival – the signature Anantara soaps and the reknown Oman’s brand - Amouage in the bathroom and a big platter of fruits as well as fresh coconuts, detox juices and a huge cake with macaroons awaiting us before we set foot in this immense villa.
Once outside the villa, you really need to explore the length and breadth of the resort. Aside from our villa pool, the main infinity pool is huge and reaches nearly 50 metres in length and stretches onto the beach that makes a perfect length to do laps for the athletic you. Otherwise, spending the entire afternoon on the sun lounges to unwind, chill beneath the gentle sea breeze for a well deserved day break.
The beach itself has powder-soft sand and the sand in the water felt silky soft between the toes, much pristine than many other beaches in this region which is probably one of the reasons why Salalah is now becoming the most sought after holiday destinations.
There is the ubiquitous Anantara Spa, which is an expansive building opposite the reception with some local architecture accents everywhere you look, so a touch of exotica for the whole experience and given that they have a traditional Hamman for further relaxation with changerooms offering experience showers and a sauna, so ensure that you take the time to enjoy all of this while in the spa environs.
Surprisingly, Salalah is the epicentre for growing Frankincense – you may have heard of it but have no idea what it is and we were similarly intrigued. We have enjoyed it in spa products and perfumes, but you may not be aware that this hardened gum-like material (resin) comes from the trunk of the Boswellia tree. Its oil seems to kill some types of bacteria and is heavily used in incense, soaps and lotions. There is always something new to discover when you explore the unknown with an open mind.
With the Arabian Sea water is teeming with fresh seafood, which features on the menus daily The food and beverage is also quite wide-ranging for such a low room count, with Sakalan, the all-day dining restaurant by the pool which breakfast is served, Mekong - the specialty Asian restaurant and Al Mina - the poolside Mediterranean restaurant and bar, enough choices to savour their culinary skills.
Our dining experiences were a bit hit and miss. Mekong does offer some authentic Asian dishes, but you need to know the Thai chef is in the kitchen that night, otherwise the flavours may not be as authentic/intense as expected and losing the authenticity, but overall a very pleasing restaurant.
Gorgeous fit-out in Mekong restaurant
We were intending to dine poolside in Al Mina on one of the nights, but we found the music duo too intrusive. If you don’t like karaoke style live music, check which night the duo is not playing, as there is no escaping the sound. Some chosen items were not available from the main menu during our visit, so we ended up return to Mekong instead.
Should you wish to explore outside the resort, then there are some things to do. Salalah has a Frankincense museum to check out for a small outing. You can head into the desert or the sea. Fishing is also a big activity in this region and throughout the day you could see fishermen bringing in their spoils, not to mention watching the birds flock to the beach landing areas when they knew fresh fish was coming in! Or if you want to head out to the sea, but not fish, snorkeling and diving is popular as well as dolphin watching.
The list goes on should you wish to be adventurous, but if you want something closer to ‘home’, hire a bike in the resort to expend a bit of energy while seeing the close surrounds of the resort. Then there is the well-equipped fitness centre to help you stay fit, have a lesson of two with the in house tennis coach or just do nothing other than chill…
As always, the day of departure is a downer, as enjoyment leads to wanting more, but as the expression goes, you have to leave to be able to come back and we most certainly will want to return. Equally memorable were the team in Mekong and the Assistant Manager Thu from Vietnam who look after your needs.
Every staff member we passed said hello and the hardware exudes luxury at all touch points in a very Thai way of culture respectively. You won’t expect much of an Arabic themed holiday but rather the warm Anantara hospitality, as it were. It was important to us that a luxury Thai brand was able to impart a Thai feel with a nod to its local culture, which they have done quite well in here as a destination holiday.
Design & Decor: 4/5
Room Amenities: 5/5
Value For Money: 4/5