We were apprehensive about travelling with a child for the first time, but we needn’t have worried. In Muscat airport, I assumed we were being pulled to one side for a security check, but I was wrong. Instead we were ushered to the front of the lengthy immigration queue and a desk was miraculously opened for us. Oh the joys of travelling with a child in the Middle East; as we were to discover, we would be gloriously well looked after.
We were on our way to The Chedi, Muscat, Oman’s first contemporary hotel that opened its doors in 2003. In recent years, Oman has become an increasingly popular travel destination to explore with its dramatic beauty, unspoiled cultural heritage and exhilarating experiences that define the country. Essentially authentic Arabia, Muscat has welcomed significant developments in recent years. Commissioned by Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, the opening of The Royal Opera House in 2011 places Muscat on the international stage with the Middle East’s first and only opera house representing the progressive nature of this city whose historical significance as a trading port between East and West remains at the forefront. Further developments include a new addition to the Bait Al Zubair museum and an Amouage factory and visitor centre, allowing guests a chance to experience the world’s most exclusive perfume first hand.
Occupying a prime beachfront location, The Chedi Muscat is located 20 minutes north of old Muscat, at Al Ghubra. Ideally located for business and leisure travellers alike, the main tourist attractions, the financial centre and Muscat International Airport are only a 15-minute drive away. The resort offers understated elegance and a perfect mix of Omani architecture and an Asian Zen-style, all found in this exclusive 21 acre garden oasis.
On arrival, guests are welcomed into the Lobby Lounge, an impressive contemporary Arabian courtyard with low hanging lanterns and vibrant coloured cushions. Minimalist low-rise buildings are accentuated by gardens that flourish with symmetrical simplicity, defined by lines of manicured hedges and pools of water exuding the feel of an Arabian oasis, creating a lovely feeling of calm and relaxation. All 158 rooms have breathtaking views across the gardens and ponds, Hajar Mountains and the Gulf of Oman, the diverse terrain provides the perfect backdrop that creates an atmosphere of serenity.
We stayed in one of 38 Chedi Club Suites surrounded by grass and palm trees, thoughtfully situated given that we had a child and pushchair. The large bedroom had a gold, domed ceiling that twinkled beautifully by candlelight at night. A separate sitting room was an ideal living space that conveniently doubled up as a baby room, and sunset cocktails were consumed on the outdoor terrace surrounded by tranquil gardens and views of the ocean. Suites are cleverly inclusive of return airport transfers, the minibar (plus decanters of gin, whisky and vodka), laundry service and access to The Club Lounge. At The Club Lounge, suite guests enjoy continental breakfast, afternoon tea and evening canapés and cocktails with complimentary WiFi. So there’s certainly no danger of going hungry or thirsty.
Six restaurants featuring Arabic, Asian, Indian, Japanese/Malay and Mediterranean cuisine, provide guests with plenty of choice, and we were only too happy to sample them with the help of a lovely babysitter provided by the hotel. The hotel’s high-end food offering is served at the romantic, but casually named Beach Restaurant, only open in the evening. With doors open onto the beach, we enjoyed delicious modern seafood, to the light of flared torches, while enjoying the cool sea breeze.
As well as a 370-metre private beach, The Chedi offers guests a choice of three pools: the infinity Chedi Pool surrounded by cabanas on the seafront, the 103-metre Long Pool – the largest in the Middle East – and the family-friendly Serai Pool with its black mosaics and sun shielding canopy. Spending a day by these pools was extraordinarily relaxing, with an excellent team of staff on-hand offering drinks, fruit skewers and even a massage. The beautiful, state-of-the-art health club is cleverly designed to give guests the utmost privacy while enjoying sea views during their workout, and also offers guests complimentary group exercise classes.
On Thursday evenings, Oman’s hottest DJ spins tunes at the Long Pool where large groups of all ages mingle, gossip and people-watch. The Chedi is clearly the place to be in Muscat. The property has an unusual mix of international and local guests there for business and leisure.
Staff and service at the property were outstanding – everyone that we encountered was charming and helpful and extremely accommodating to our son. The Chedi’s umbrella organisation, GHM is known for conceptualising a symbiotic relationship between the hotel and the local environment. And the hotel does just that. The Chedi Muscat combines the understated luxury of Omani hospitality with the culture and heritage of Oman. If you’re looking for some winter sun this year – with or without a child – The Chedi is the perfect spot. You will be spectacularly well looked after.