The Six Senses Zighy Bay Resort is a slice of tranquil paradise set on Oman’s beautiful Musandam Peninsula. Journalist Hanna Tavner heads east to discover a world of spectacular landscapes and elegant luxury with the Inspiring Travel Company…
As our 4x4 takes another sharp turn up the steep mountain road, the sense of anticipation and excitement is palpable.
Before now, our transfer from Dubai airport has been rather uneventful. It’s night time and there isn’t a great deal to see as we drive across the desert. Once over the border and into the northern Musandam Peninsula in the Sultanate of Oman, the landscape starts to change.
Here, the Hajar Mountains rise majestically up from the seemingly-lunar landscape and we have to drive up and over one of the precipitous ridges to access our resort.
It’s fair to say that few resorts demand such a dramatic arrival but then Six Senses Zighy Bay is not your average resort.
Ever since it opened in 2008, Zighy Bay has captivated travellers around the world by offering an even more electrifying entrance than our 4x4 option. During the day, guests can paraglide down to check-in from the ridge.
However you arrive, you almost expect the resort to be equally as high-octane. In fact, Zighy Bay is a remote, ruggedly beautiful antidote from the stresses and strains of modern-day life.
Designed less as a hotel and more as an authentic Omani village, every one of the 82 villas is a personal oasis of privacy and tranquillity built of natural stone and warm wood. Each comes with a good-sized private plunge pool, outdoor terrace, sand garden and shaded dining areas along with its own personal butler.
Inside is equally as spacious. Large, cool rooms with every facility you can imagine presented in a relaxed, homely style. Bikes are left by each front door for you to explore the resort along palm-lined sandy paths. This is barefoot luxury at its very best.
In addition to the private villa pools, there are two large swimming pools (one saltwater), tennis courts, a children’s club, plenty of watersports as well as a dive centre and library.
At no point does it ever feel busy. There is no queuing at Zighy Bay, no mad dashes to be first to the pool and no scrambling to find an empty sun lounger. In fact, there is very little noise at all in this paradisiacal pocket of peace. Even the after-dinner beach cinema is conducted via cushioned headphones.
Those who enjoy such tranquillity will undoubtedly relish the early morning yoga on the pavilion deck followed by a spot of reading on a plush sunlounger dotted along the mile-long golden sands, the gentle lapping of the waves providing the only disturbance.
A stay at Zighy Bay can be as relaxed or adventurous as you choose. This is one holiday where you get to dictate the pace.
The best time to visit is from November to March, away from the scorching heat of the summer months. This time of the year provides the perfect sunny conditions desired by those of us wanting to escape the British winter as well as the perfect temperature to enjoy many of the experiences on offer.
The resort has its own private marina from where we take a traditional dhow cruise. We drop anchor in a secluded bay before snorkelling in crystal clear waters with a guide pointing out the delights of the reef below. Later, we visit the local fish market in Dibba by speedboat.
We enjoy a guided hike up the steep slopes surrounding the bay, following narrow goat-trodden paths and climb over boulders to the peak before being rewarded with sensational views of the unspoilt coastline in the golden hour of light before sunset.
On a three-hour 4x4 excursion from Zighy Bay we see only one other person, a goat herder, as we follow unmade roads to reach the plateau around 4,000 feet (1,200 metres) above sea level. At Sabatyn, a village that stretches along a mountainside, we are treated to yet more wonderful views down to Wadi Al Bih.
Back at the resort, there is a delightful choice of dining options. The main restaurant, the Spice Market, offers delicious Arabian delicacies including tajines and grilled meats cooked over hot coals.
Twice a week, guests can enjoy a unique Bedouin open-air dining experience on the beach at Shua Shack. These family-style evenings begin with local mezes and organic salads, followed by shua-roasted lamb prepared in an underground oven.
Zighy Bay, like all the Six Senses properties, takes sustainability seriously. The hotel provides its own drinking water via an in-house Crystal Plant, rather than shipping it in. They also have a sizeable organic garden which provides a lot of produce for the restaurants. Guests are encouraged to visit and cookery lessons are available.
Allow our expert team of Travel Specialists to create your Six Senses Zighy Bay escape.
Enjoyed reading this feature? This article appeared in our Summer/Autumn 2017 issue of Other Shores, the ITC Travel Group magazine. For further holiday inspiration you can order your very own copy of Other Shores online.