Even the most cultured traveller is sometimes in need of a dose of pure, unabashed winter sunshine – but it can be hard to come by without hitting up the Caribbean or Thailand. Step forward, Oman. Just a seven-hour flight from the UK, it’s got to be one of winter’s best-kept sun secrets.
Dubai’s lesser-known neighbour, Oman has a reliable climate (temperatures are in the high 20s and there’s guaranteed sunshine everyday) but less of the skyscraper flashiness and crowds, making it feel a bit more like a holiday. And despite being a sizeable city, Muscat clings to Oman’s glistening coastline – the perfect backdrop to bring tropical vibes to The Chedi hotel.
From plane to pool in just fifteen minutes, The Chedi is a place you won’t want to leave. Meandering pathways guide you through the acres of green lawns, azure pools and white-washed villas. If it weren’t for the Omani architectural touches you could make-believe that you were in any far-flung exotic beach location, while feeling smug at avoiding the long-haul flight, time difference and not-so-reliable weather.
As it should be with any hedonistic beach retreat, days can be spent sunning in various ways. The shining light is the Long Pool, a 100-metre oasis fringed by oversized sun beds and soft lounge music evoking an Ibiza vibe. Fancy a change of scenery? Head to one of the other two pools, or to the private beach. Laid-back cool permeates the whole resort which, despite its size, channels an intimate, boutique feeling. Smug couples dominate, no doubt smiling wryly at their superiority over all the pale people they’ve left languishing in the winter grey of home. Join them, with your partner or pals…
Dark wood, palatial beds and decadent toiletries set the tone for rooms as places to pamper and unwind. The serai and deluxe rooms offer up ample space within the main body of the building, but for the ultimate escape book into one of the Chedi club suites, where standalone villas with sprawling lounges, private terraces and gigantic bathrooms beckon after a long day doing nothing. But don’t get too comfortable. Complimentary afternoon tea and evening cocktails – a perk of the club suites – are sure to tempt you back outside.
When breakfast is included there is no excuse for not getting out of bed. The main restaurant serves up a veritable feast of options via a buffet, which can be leisurely consumed out in the courtyard gazing down to the sea beyond. For the ultimate holiday indulgence, order your breakfast hamper directly to your room so you linger over your coffee on your private terrace and do so in your dressing gown.
There’s no shortage of dining options. Lunch is best enjoyed poolside and washed down with a glass of wine. As for dinner, sample something different every night. You can practically dip your toes in the water at the romantic beach restaurant which offers an endless array of seafood, while the more formal main restaurant offers Asian, Middle Eastern and Indian delights. For a laid-back affair, either head to the Arabic courtyard and shisha lounge, or recline on daybeds at the Long Pool cabana while sampling the Japanese tapas selection by candlelight.
Many. In fact, you’re never far from a drink at The Chedi. But for early evening tipples head to the shisha or lobby lounge for candlelit aperitifs. Post-prandial digestifs are best quaffed curled up poolside at the Long Pool cabana.
Those craving some action can hit up the hi-tech gym or tennis courts, then make a beeline for the spa for a restorative massage.
The point of heading to this kind of beach resort is to switch off, unwind and largely stay on site. Current exchange rates, however, may have you wincing at the price of three-course dinners every night of your stay.
Fear not, for those prone to cabin fever Muscat is an adventurer’s paradise and friendly staff are more than happy to help you planning your excursions. Sample the souk, visit the Grand Mosque or don your best linen and head to the desert for dune bashing and other sandy exploits.
You know how you have that one incredible friend who knows their city inside out? Yeah, that’s us. We take the world’s most dynamic destinations, hand-pick the best parts and give them to you in one place. This is the kind of guide that you don’t need to run by a local. Eat your heart out, shop ‘til you drop, drink like a fish, dance your socks off, sleep – then repeat.
Join us as we travel the globe, uncovering up and coming destinations while revisiting the classics in a fresh light. We’ll take you everywhere – from frigid expeditions on the Faroe islands to weird and wonderful bachelorette parties in Vegas.
We'll tell you where you can find the perfect boutique hotel in Paris for under €100, if you tell us about the best dive bar in your city. Deal? Share your stories and photos with #SUITCASEtravels.