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  • Writer's pictureHershey

Family Holiday at Alila Hinu Bay in Salalah Oman.

Updated: Jul 8, 2022

The Best Time of Year to Visit Oman’s Hidden Gem.

There’s something so magical about Oman. Maybe it’s the slow-paced, relaxed vibes, and warm Omani heritage you feel as soon as you step into the airport or cross the borders. Or maybe it’s that sense of community and village life that’s so pleasing to be around, particularly when you’re so warmly greeted by locals.

When you get to Oman, just seeing the mountains as a backdrop and historical buildings, each depicting its own story, brings a sense of calm and peace that’s so infectious that you’re guaranteed to unwind in Oman and soak up all the magical energy that this beautiful country has to offer.

If you’re looking for a fabulous hotel to stay at over the summer, I recommend flying to Salalah in Oman. It’s a hidden gem on the map. It’s a fantastic place to visit all year round, but it’s particularly special during June to September because it’s the time of the year that marks the south-eastern monsoon season – when desert springs, waterfalls and verdant blankets of flora come to life. This is known as the ‘Khareef’ season. It almost feels like the Caribbean of the Middle East during this time because there’s so much beautiful vegetation as well as beautiful white beaches.

We were very excited to take a trip as a family to stay at one of the newest hotels in Oman called Alila Hinu Bay. Alila has quite a reputation of being top of its game when it comes to contemporary luxury hotels. What makes them unique is that they also pay tribute to cultural and environmental responsibilities, and this is a really important factor for me.

Alila Hinu Bay blends in seamlessly with the landscape. The surrounding terrain is kept as natural and raw as possible, so it doesn’t feel manicured. There’s a sense of preserving authentic cultural architectural aspects and blending this with modern luxury. Alila Hinu Bay is the second hotel in Oman to launch (the first being on the mountains in Jabal Akhdar). It’s the one you want to stay at if you want to experience the beauty of Khareef season. In fact, during this period they are offering guests a complimentary night for every night booked. And this offer lasts until September.

The Location

It’s just 60 minutes by car from Salalah International Airport and if you are driving from Muscat expect a 1080 km drive. The chic boutique resort is an area called Mirbat, a charming fishing town that sits along the pristine white coastline of Dhofar. The hotel overlooks the beautiful Arabian sea and the Dhofar Mountains. And the serene mountain vistas, surrounding the hotel, are just dreamy.

The Rooms

There are 96 guestrooms and 16 pool villas. The smaller rooms are the Terrace Room, Terrace Lagoon View, and Terrace Sea View, all at 60 sqm. They can fit a family of four if you don’t all mind sharing one room. But the great news is they are interconnecting rooms so if you are travelling with a nanny or some other family these are perfect. However, if you want more space, opt for the Pool Villa at 166 sqm or the Deluxe Pool Villa, which is 175 sqm. As the name suggests, they both have their own private pool, which is great if you are travelling with kids, and you prefer privacy, by not using the other main pools. These two villas have an outdoor bathtub and shower which is nice if you want to feel immersed with nature whilst showering and bathing. You’ll also get a spacious living room, and butler service, which is always a nice treat. All rooms come with a king size bed or twin beds, depending on your request. You can also ask for a baby cot and extra bed if needed.

Pool and Beach

There are two other main pools within the property. My favourite is the one next to the main restaurant called Seasalt because you can sit back and enjoy some food or drinks whilst gazing at awe-inspiring views across the long stretch of the coastline. It’s great for watching the sunset. If you want to go to the beach, it’s just a few minutes away by foot from your room or villa. It’s a lovely walk and you can explore the natural surroundings on your way there. But if you don’t feel like walking, the hotel also has buggies that can take you to the beach so that’s no problem.

Culinary Journey There are two main restaurants at the hotel. The Orchard at Alila Hinu Bay pays homage to the heritage and cultural significance of the Frankincense Route, one of the ancient trade routes that defined the world. The new menu is inspired by the journey of frankincense, and it takes guests on an epicurean voyage with carefully selected and crafted dishes that draw inspiration from the travels of the frankincense traders both land and sea. All the ingredients are locally sourced, and you can taste the quality and freshness of the food. I particularly loved the Greek Freekeh, with tomatoes, pomegranate, olives and pine nuts. I also enjoyed Gaza Maftoul which is chickpeas, artichoke and kalamata olives. I just asked them to not add any dairy to any of my dishes, so they were vegan friendly, and that was simple enough. I did notice that there was camel meat on the menu, and I’ve heard there are some places that serve this, but this is possibly the first place I’ve seen it on offer. All the food was incredibly delicious, and the service was also very good.

Seasalt serves great Asian dishes, I loved the Smoked Tofu and Sprouts with lime dressing, Vegetable Tom Yum with mushrooms, lemongrass galangal and Cap Cay with seasonal vegetables garlic soy and steamed rice. There’s also a fantastic tea-sommelier that made us the best tea-cocktails.

The Lobby Lounge is great for light snacks and Middle Eastern delights, while relaxing with magnificent views overlooking the Arabian Sea. And you can enjoy more light bites, salads, and drinks at The Oasis Pool Bar. You can even experience a private romantic dinner for two, or a family picnic at any of the beautiful locations around the resort. Whether you choose to dine by the beach or at one of the picturesque viewpoints on offer, you’ll be making special memories here!

Playtime & Activities

The resort promises a relaxing escape for adults, whilst children (and adults too) can certainly have their adventures. They have a fantastic kids club called Playa Alila, which is a lifesaver if you want to stay at the hotel and take some time off parent duties because there’s wonderful staff that will entertain and look after the children.

Feeling active? Don’t worry, there's an incredible spectrum of marine life and natural reserves in Mirbat. And if you love ocean life, try snorkelling or diving. You can also have a match of tennis or get on a bike for a tour around the area. If you enjoy cooking, book a cooking class, and make some delectable local dishes using fresh ingredients from the grounds.

If you feel like exploring, (read Alila Hinu Bay Adventures in Oman) get up early and visit the coastal town of Mirbat where you can see fishermen set sail on traditional boats or discover incredible ancient Bedouin rock art dating back to the 3rd millennium BC. There is a host of unusual and once-in-a-lifetime experiences, guests can share an evening with traditional desert nomads, tread the trail of an age-old Frankincense route, and embrace the dewy excitement of a mystifying Khareef.

Relax at the Spa No trip to a lovely five-star resort is complete without trying the spa. The spa offers a range of yoga and meditation classes for guests which is great for me because I often feel like I don’t make enough time for my yoga practice. The setting is so idyllic and peaceful, and it is a great way to start the day.

When it comes to the treatments, choose from a selection of indulgent and rejuvenating spa treatments. My husband and I love couples treatments so it’s always a treat to do one together. The kids were happy to play at the kid’s club whilst we enjoyed the ‘Timeless Frankincense Signature Escape’ that lasted 150 minutes. It starts with a naturally fragranced sea salt foot scrub followed by a frankincense infused body polish. After a shower, my skin will look super smooth and radiant. I dipped into a warm Jacuzzi then came the massage using locally sourced Frankincense oil. All my knots just melted away with the soothing aromatic oils and heated stones. I particularly loved the warm Frankincense oil that was slowly poured onto your scalp whilst I indulge in a relaxing head and pressure points massage.

Service From the moment we arrived, there’s a sense of feeling really looked after. Such care and hospitality from the bellboys, receptionists, managers, buggy drivers and concierge to the cleaning staff, waiters, and nannies on site, I was so impressed with the positive energy, kindness, and hospitality around the clock.

Khareef Special Offer Guests can also enjoy a complimentary breakfast, special deals on Alila Spa Treatments such as the 150-minute “Timeless Frankincense Signature Escape” and courtesy resort activities throughout the week. Also, if you book one night at the hotel, you’ll get another free. I think this is one of the best times of the year to visit and who wouldn’t want to enjoy a complimentary night for every night you book, but this is only available from June, until September 1 (before the monsoon season ends.)

Call: +968 23 373 350


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