Stressed-out city slickers will feel an immediate sense of calm on reaching the rigid peaks of the Hajar mountain range in Musandam, Oman. Rising seamlessly from the desert sands, they serve as the final indication that you’ve left the bustling cities of nearby Dubai and Abu Dhabi behind.
Winding up the craggy peaks on the narrow road that leads to Six Senses Zighy Bay, situated on the Musandam Peninsula and surrounded by the Hajar’s limestone mountains, you are greeted at the summit by a breathtaking view.
Unfortunately the day we arrive, it is too windy to try either of the daredevil options for an unforgettable arrival: guests can choose to paraglide or microlight over the mountains and aquamarine waters, landing on the strip of beach in front of the resort while a car transports your luggage the rest of the way.
My companion and I climb out of the chauffeured SUV that had picked us up from Dubai for the two-hour drive to Zighy Bay, and are greeted in the lobby with cold towels and fresh juice as our passports are whisked away for check-in.
We’re escorted to villas 58 and 59, which are separated by a thatched bamboo wall that surrounds the whole of each outdoor patio. Both villas have an infinity pool that extends from the deck to the edge of the thatched wall, which opens via two cut-out doors facing the ocean. Inside the private fortress, the grounds are blanketed in soft sand, and brightly-hued sofas are covered by a thatched roof.
The stone villa’s interior is a blend of neutral hues; a rustic but luxurious abode that resembles a traditional Omani hut but features all the mod cons, including flat-screen TV, iPod docking station, and remote control-operated AC. The living room/lounge is adjoined to the bedroom, and a sliding door provides an optional partition to the bathroom; a spacious double bath rising up from the floor takes pride of place. Outside, a bamboo-enclosed pathway leads to an outdoor shower.
Because the sun sets behind the Hajar mountains, it gets dark early in Zighy Bay, but ‘Zighy time’, the resort’s very own time zone, allows for an extra hour of light per day. All the clocks are set forward by one hour, so it is still light at 8pm, when we settle on the outdoor sofas at Chill Bar for pre-dinner drinks.
An SUV then collects us and takes us back up the steep entry road to Sense on the Edge – Zighy Bay’s aptly named fine dining restaurant, perched precariously at the top of the mountains overlooking the resort below. It is still too stormy to sit outside, so we miss out on the views the restaurant prides itself on, but the food is exquisite: all 12 courses of it are paired with wines chosen by the charming sommelier.
The next morning brings sun and clear, calm skies. We indulge in a breakfast of lattes, muesli and made-to-order omelettes before walking the sandy path that leads to the Six Senses Spa, stopping to let the occasional goat meander past us. My Holistic Massage is one hour of gentle kneading meant to stimulate the lymphatic system and promote detoxification. My masseuse has excellent technique and a soothing touch, and the experience leaves me in a state of bliss; my skin supple with lavender oil as I sip tea in the relaxation room afterwards.
There is just enough time to park ourselves on the beach for some sun and a dip in the sea, before we’re summoned by the concierge: it’s time for a dose of adventure.
I nervously opt to try the microlight, while my companion chooses the paragliding. I’m taken by buggy to the shore and introduced to my pilot, who quickly reassures me I will be fine when he sees my anxious face. I hoist myself into the seat, which hangs below two kite ‘wings’, and strap myself in. My instructor ensures I’m secure before climbing into the front seat, and we begin to motor along the sand. Then we’re lifting off the ground, and my stomach is momentarily in my throat as we climb higher and higher, until the resort is a tiny speck below. I am in utter awe of the view, and my fears are forgotten as I try to capture it all on my camera.
Exhausted from our adventures, we check out and climb back into the plush seats of the SUV for the journey back to Dubai. Somewhere in the deserts of Fujairah, we nod off, like kids coming home from summer camp. By the time I’m awoken outside my flat in Dubai, I’m already wishing I were back at Zighy Bay.
The important bit
What: Six Senses Zighy Bay
Location: Zighy Bay, Musandam, Oman
Cost: From US$900 per night