Anantara: Paradise in Arabia…


Welcome to paradise (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

This spring, I had the chance to enjoy a serene stay at Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara while doing research in southern Oman. From its stunning beach (where guests swim with dolphins) to the quiet luxury of its pool villas, the hotel is without a doubt the best accommodation available along the southern coast of Dhofar.


Our pool villa (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

Desperately in need of some rest and relaxation, my friend and I booked a pool villa to unwind in the comfort of privacy and quiet. Upon entering our pool villa, we were delighted (and surprised) to be treated to a relaxing complimentary foot massage — the perfect way to begin our stay. In addition to the inviting striped couch in the living room, we also had multiple lounging options for relaxing outside near our private pool.


Villa lounge time (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

The red and white pillows stationed around the pool add a subtle Middle Eastern touch. We used these cozy pillow platforms to read and snooze after cooling off in the pool. The private pool can be entered from the living room on one side or the bathroom on the other — so you can take a dip and then directly hop in the shower or tub.


Where’s Waldo? (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

As you can see, the secluded privacy of the pool is ideal for families and covered Muslim women who do not feel comfortable wearing revealing swimwear in front of non-relatives (the pool villas were likely designed with that in mind). For venturing out of the villa to head towards the beach or infinity pool, old-fashioned blue metallic bikes (shipped from the United States) are provided for rides under the property’s towering palms.


Biking in paradise (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

Since I could not ride a bike due to an injury, I instead whirled to the infinity pool each day for a swim and snack. The stunning infinity pool that stretches all the way to the beach is the centerpiece of the sparking white hotel buildings — and the restaurants surrounding it got our taste buds whirling too.


Whirling to infinity (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

From thin-crust poolside pizzas to a magnificent (and large) mezze platter, the menu of the beach cafe Al Mina (below) next to the pool is filled with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean culinary treasures. I had been told by a local friend before our stay that the food at Anantara was fairly priced, and I was relieved and glad to find she was right — we could have our fill and not worry about overspending.


Poolside Mediterranean dining (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

The breakfast buffet — an impressive display of international fare — is also served poolside at Sakalan Restaurant. In addition to the enormous selection of breakfast cuisines (from Oman, Lebanon, India, Japan, Europe, and the U.S.A., to name a few), there is also a menu from which you can order special breakfast dishes and drinks.


Brunch at Anantara (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

I ordered the Eggs Florentine from the brunch menu, and was not disappointed. I liked it so much that I ordered it again the next day to fuel up on protein before heading out for another long, fun-filled day at the beach. From breakfast to dinner, we were pleased with the culinary offerings of the hotel. We especially enjoyed feasting on Thai food (pad thai along with a sumptuous vegetarian Vietnamese appetizer platter) at Mekong — an elegant restaurant on the property that specializes in Asian cuisine from countries bordering the Mekong River.


Eggs Florentine, yum! (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

After powering up each morning with a hearty breakfast, I hit the beach to go look for dolphins (one dolphin pod stayed near the beach for a good hour while I swam), enjoy a long sand stroll, and collect unique shells. After communing with nature in the strong turquoise waves each morning (the summer monsoon was beginning to brew), I spent my afternoons swimming, bobbing, and floating in the infinity pool. It was just what the doctor ordered.


Swim time! (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

While it was tempting to spend all of our time on the grounds of the hotel, we pushed ourselves to go out and explore Dhofar in between meals and swims. Fortunately, Al Baleed Archaeological Park sits literally right next to the hotel. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it contains sprawling archaeological ruins (including those of the grand mosque and citadel) in addition to the Museum of Frankincense Land — a slick, modern museum which documents Oman’s history. Al Baleed Resort by Anantara opened just several months ago — and from what I can tell, they are already doing everything right. We were greatly impressed by the high quality of the service, the heavenly vision of the grounds, and the welcoming luxury and comfort of the pool villa. I was grateful to enjoy this special slice of paradise in the Sultanate of Oman — and can’t wait to return one day soon.


Finding peace at Anantara (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.