Shangri-La Barr al Jissah Al Waha and Wahiba Sands
Discover the dramatic desert scenery of the Wahiba Sands before a relaxing beach week overlooking the Sea of Oman.
2 nights Wahiba Sands, half board, including excursions; 7 nights Shangri-La Barr al Jissah - Al Waha, including breakfast. Includes flights and transfers.
13 days from £2,440pp
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On the beach - 8 days
Shangri-La Barr al Jissah — Al Waha
The Shangri-La has a stunning location set on a private bay framed by golden sands, turquoise waters and the red rock of the mountains behind.
The resort encompasses two sister hotels strung along the beach: Al Waha and Al Bandar. With easy access to colourful coral and marine life, the resort has its own dive centre and a dedicated turtle ranger to advise on the best times and places to see the green and hawksbill turtles that nest in the area from January to July. There is also a superb spa on site and the historic walled city of old Muscat is only a short drive away. Al Waha, 'The Oasis', is particularly suitable for families with a great range of activities for children.
The largest of the three hotels, it is built around a pool and gardens in a style that reflects traditional southern Omani architecture. It is located at one end of the long sweeping beach that links the hotels and guests are free to wander between the two properties offering a choice of nine different dining options. The 262 rooms are spacious and comfortable with balconies or patios overlooking the gardens, pool or sea. Interconnecting family rooms or one bedroom suites are popular options for those travelling with children.
After the beach - 3 days
One of Oman's most scenic areas, the Wahiba Sands offer a dramatic desert experience with towering sand dunes and a surprisingly wide array of flora and fauna. Enjoy spectacular sunsets, overnight skies densely packed with stars and the soft light of desert dawns. Meet the nomadic Bedouin who call the desert home and visit the vividly coloured pools and shady canyon of the Wadi Bani Khalid. On your journey to and from the desert you will pass small villages lining the coast and the dramatic scenery of the Hajar Mountains.
The 1,000 Nights Camp is set in an impressive desert basin with striking dunes rising on either side. The traditional Bedouin tents offer simple but comfortable accommodation.
Shangri-La Barr al Jissah — Al Waha
262 rooms, 8 restaurants, 2 pools
With a beautiful setting overlooking the Sea of Oman, the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah resort encompasses two hotels, Al Bandar and Al Waha, with a further sister hotel, Al Husn sitting on a hilltop above. Offering the best of Omani hospitality and ultimate Arabian luxury, the resort has an excellent range of dining and leisure facilities.
The stunning location is the Shangri-La's most striking attraction as the hotel is tucked between rugged mountains and the beautiful Gulf of Oman.
Al Waha, meaning 'The Oasis', is the larger of the two hotels that make up the resort and is the ideal choice for families. Reflecting traditional southern Omani architecture, the hotel is built around the pool and garden area to reflect a palm-filled oasis.
Guests are free to wander between the two hotels using the facilities at both; a long sweep of beach and beautifully landscaped gardens link the hotels, ensuring a feeling of space and openness.
Families are very welcome at the Al Waha, and there are plenty of facilities and activities to keep children entertained.
Al Waha tends to be the focal point for many of the children’s facilities and family-friendly dining, but families are also welcomed in Al Bandar hotel, and can make use of all the same facilities. There are children’s pools at both Al Waha and Al Bandar hotels.
Located in the Al Waha hotel, the Cool Zone Kids' Club for children up to eight years has supervised indoor play areas (children under four should be accompanied by a parent).
In the hotel’s souq area, to the back of the resort, the Adventure Zone has a variety of play areas, including drop slides, swing over nets, climbing wall, and soft play areas, as well as play stations and computers (please note, children need to wear long sleeves and socks here). There is also a games room at the souq, with billiards, snooker, air hockey and video games.
Set on the headland at Al Waha hotel, Splashpad is a popular aquatic play area for children, with water effects, such as touch sensitive sprays, jets of water and light mists.The hotel organises regular children’s activities, such as treasure hunts, henna painting and activities that teach the children traditional Arabian crafts. Children also have the opportunity to get close to authentic Arabian horses and camels every day at the Al Bandar beach area.
The Shangri-La enjoys a scenic and secluded location, set in its own bay. In front of the resort lies a long stretch of golden sand beach and the blue waters of the Sea of Oman, while behind the hotel, the rugged mountains provide a dramatic backdrop. The hotel’s beach is private, and stretches for a kilometre, while down a short path there is also a smaller, secluded beach at the edge of the mountains, called Turtle Beach.
The hotel is about 15 minutes' drive from Muscat, and the hotel provides a free shuttle to the historic and shopping areas. It is a good idea to reserve seats a day ahead or, alternatively, taxis are easy to arrange. There are no local restaurants or shops within the immediate vicinity of the hotel, but the resort offers a wide range of dining options.
We think that Al Waha has been well designed, and is particularly suitable for families.
There is no getting away from the fact that with two hotels and 460 rooms in total, the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah is a large resort. However, it has the facilities to match, and with the gardens and waterways, it feels spacious.
The beach that the resort is built around are beautiful, and there is always plenty of space on the beach to sit and relax.
There are 262 rooms at Al Waha, each offering a balcony or patio, with views over the garden, pool or sea.
The elegant rooms offer spacious, comfortable accommodation, with modern Arabian influences.
Superior Pool View
Superior rooms are 32m2 and overlook the pool and gardens.
Superior Sea View
These rooms are identical to the Superior rooms but have views over the beach and the Sea of Oman.
Executive Sea View
Larger than the Superior rooms at 45m2, these rooms have a small sitting area with a sofa bed and a balcony or patio with sea views.
Interconnecting family room
A great option for families this consists of 2 interconnecting Superior rooms, one with a king bed, the other with 2 single beds.
Each room has its own en suite bathroom and balcony or patio and the twin room has special features for children such as Play Stations and a selection of games.
One bedroom suite
These luxurious and spacious suites are 70-85m2 with a separate sitting room and dining area with sofabed as well as additional amenities such as daily fruit and flowers, iPod docking station and Nespresso machine.
Pictures of the rooms
Activities, diving & excursions
There is a large pool at Al Waha, and guests may also use the pool at Al Bandar, just a few minutes' walk along the beachfront.
Comfortable sun loungers are set around the pool, and on the beachfront, and the hotel thoughtfully provides guests along the beach with complimentary water bottles in ice boxes to keep them cool in the Arabian heat.
Stretching between Al Waha and Al Bandar hotels, a ‘Lazy River’ allows guests to drift between the two hotels on the manmade current.
There are plenty of activities to keep guests busy. Kayaking tours and two-hour snorkelling trips are available, as well as waterskiing and wake boarding. On land, there are four floodlit tennis courts, a fitness centre and a mini golf course at the hotel.
Between January - June, you may have a special opportunity to observe the turtles laying their eggs. Toward the end of March -August the baby turtles begin to hatch and you can watch the turtle ranger checking the eggs at around 5.30pm daily. The dedicated ranger can also advise you on the best times to observe the turtles and if you give him your phone or room number, he’ll call you in the middle of the night if a turtle comes to lay eggs.
The dive centre has excellent scuba diving and snorkelling facilities, and is a PADI Five Star Gold Palm Resort. For the best snorkelling, we would advise taking a boat trip.
The dive centre welcomes beginners and certified divers for daily scuba-diving trips for one and/or two dives. Courses start in the hotel pool, and later move to the ocean to discover the rich waters of the Arabian Sea, full of brightly coloured fish, turtles and other sealife.
Food & drink
One of the highlights of the Shangri-La Barr al Jissah is the wide range and quality of its dining options. Guests can eat at the restaurants at either of the hotels that make up the resort.
Al Waha hotel offers two relaxed, family-friendly dining choices. Samba is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, offering buffet meals with flavours of Asia, the Mediterranean and Latin America. The Surf Café is open all day, serving burgers, sandwiches and salads, alongside Internet stations.
Set on the beachfront between Al Bandar and Al Waha hotel, Bait al Bahr is a charming, intimate seafood restaurant, with both indoor and outdoor dining, overlooking the sea. Enjoy one of the à la carte dishes, or wander over to the Seafood Market to take your pick from the array of fresh fish caught by one of their dedicated fishermen from the local village.
At Al Bandar hotel, Tapas and Sablah is set in a large square, with views over the gardens to the sea beyond. Open for dinner, it offers a mix of Mediterranean and Asian tapas, as well as Middle Eastern mezze. Some evenings, traditional music takes place on the square, and traditional hookah pipes are also available.
Capri Court, also open for dinner, offers Italian cuisine in a stylish restaurant, overlooking the gardens and beachfront. Al Tanoor is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner serving buffet meals, with a wide choice of Arabian, Mediterranean, Indian and other international dishes.
At the hotel’s souq area, there is a choice of three dining options; an all day café, a contemporary Asian restaurant with four show kitchens preparing the best of Asian cuisine, and a Lebanese restaurant serving Middle Eastern cuisine.
There is also a wide range of bars and lounges including beach and pool bars.
Guests can also enjoy dinner in the fine dining options at Al Husn, the sister property next door but tables must booked in advance and children under 12 are not allowed.
Please note that hotel restaurants can be busy at the weekend (Friday and Saturday) with local residents and ex pats and it may be advisable for you to ask your specialist to pre-book for you.
The Shangri-La group is renowned for its excellent spa facilities, and this resort is no exception. CHI, The Spa has a quiet setting between Al Bandar and Al Waha hotel, and offers a peaceful water oasis and 12 treatment villas.
Location: The Wahiba Sands
The Wahiba Sands is a large desert area just four hours drive from Muscat.
Its geography is mixed: in the north are smaller dunes and wide flat areas, to the east the dunes pile up to 100 metres against the ocean, and in the south, at Barr El Hikman, is a vast expanse of flat sand dotted with treacherous salt flats and home to huge populations of migrating birds.
Experiencing the Wahiba Sands
A surprisingly wide array of flora and fauna call the sands home, as do about 3,000 Bedouin, some of whom you will get to meet when you visit the Wahiba.
There are also camps to spend the night in the desert, a remarkable experience that starts with a golden sunset, continues with a densely-starred sky and concludes with the soft light of a desert dawn.
Wahiba Sands to Muscat
Leaving the Wahiba Sands, a scenic drive passes between the contorted slopes of the eastern Hajar mountains and the shore, past the stunning water pools and shady canyon of Wadi Bani Khalid.
On the coast, Ras Al Junayz is a small sandy bay where green turtles come ashore to nest all year round (though the principal nesting season is July to September) and there is the opportunity to visit the turtles in the late evening or early morning.
From here you follow the coast, passing through small villages and towns scattered along the shoreline. The area is beautiful, despite clear signs of the damage caused by the 2007 cyclone Gonu.
Closer to Muscat, shining white beaches nestle under rocky overhangs, and a collapsed cave has created an impressive sinkhole.
1000 Nights Desert Camp
Accommodation: 1000 Nights Desert Camp
The 1000 Nights camp is a larger camp (60 tents in all and two permanent guest houses, which make up the four 'sand house' accommodations), located in an impressive desert basin with dunes rising to either side. The camp consists of individual traditional black wool Bedouin tents, each furnished with a bed with sheets and blankets, rug flooring, a small table and chairs, towels and bottled water.
This is also the only camp in the area with a swimming pool. A torch is provided in your tent and in the evening, as the sun sets, kerosene lamps are lit along the pathway to the dining area. A portable lamp is also lit outside each tent which you can carry along with you. There are four accommodation categories here — the traditional Arabic tent (with shared toilet facilities), the en suite Sheikh tent and the walled sand house for those who prefer their creature comforts. The camp also offers five Ameer Tents. Like the sand houses, the Ameer Tents offer a higher level of luxury, including air-conditioning, en suite facilities and a private outdoor area with a fire pit.
The dining area is adorned with low tables and large, comfy cushions. Cool drinks and refreshing mint tea are served followed by a buffet consisting of traditional Middle Eastern salads and grilled meat. Breakfast is also a traditional affair and will most certainly keep the hunger pangs at bay until lunchtime.
Day by day
Board your overnight flight to Muscat.
You will be met on arrival and driven from Muscat into the Wahiba Sands, via the spectacular mountain scenery around Nizwa.
You'll stay in tented accommodation in the 1000 Nights Camp for a unique desert experience.
This morning you head out to the edge of the Hajar mountains to Wadi Bani Khalid, a canyon — and usually several pools — surrounded by steep wadi walls.
The afternoon is at your leisure to indulge in any number of desert activities from the camp, should you wish, including dune bashing and camel riding.
You'll drive back to Muscat today, travelling via the coastal road.
Once you arrive into Muscat you'll be taken to the Al Waha hotel, part of the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah resort, where you spend the next 7 nights.
This morning, embark on a tour of the city with your private chauffeur-guide.
Days 6 - 10
Tonight you will be collected from your hotel and driven to the hotel in time to catch your overnight flight back to the UK.
Arrive back in London this morning.
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