I arrive at the hotel in the evening and am welcomed in friendly Omani fashion. Once the paperwork is done, which takes no time at all, I’m escorted to my room by my private host. At my villa, I’m impressed to see my name painted on a coconut shell outside the door. After being familiarised with the room’s features, it’s time for a foot treatment, which is a nice way to begin my stay. A message in a bottle, with my host’s details inside, is a creative touch.
The resort, which is nestled between a private beach and a lagoon, is an easy 15- to 20-minute drive from Salalah International Airport along the south coast of Dhofar. The Museum of the Frankincense Land is a five-minute drive down the road and is right next door to Al Baleed Archaeological Park, a Unesco World Heritage site featuring ruins from the 12th-century trading port of Zafar. Other attractions farther afield (a 30- to 60-minute drive), include Al Mughsayl Beach, with its blowholes, Taqah Castle, Mirbat Fort and the Empty Quarter.
My one-bedroom, garden-view pool villa is like a private sanctuary, making it ideal for GCC guests. There’s an outdoor plunge pool, a lounge area, a small table and chairs, and a canopy bed to laze around in, while inside there’s a majlis-style living area. The bedroom is roomy and has a walk-in wardrobe and small, single sofa. The bathroom is well thought-out, offering access from the shower to the pool outside. It also has a tub and separate toilet.
The staff are friendly and attentive without being over the top, but my afternoon lie-down is interrupted by a staff member who let herself into my room even though I had the “do not disturb” light on. Room service is prompt and our Omani tour guide is a standout.
It’s quieter than it will be during the rainy khareef season, when visits reach their peak. The 250 metres of beach frontage, infinity pool and cabanas provide a casual coastal feel.
The resort has three dining options. Sakalan is the all-day dining restaurant. The breakfast here (11.7 Omani rials [Dh112]) offers resort guests a hearty selection of hot and cold dishes, including congi, eggs, fried rice, fruits and yogurts, pastries, cheeses and cold meats. Al Mina is the poolside Mediterranean offering, perfect for lunch after a dip in the pool or a morning spent lounging by the beach. The gluten-free pizza (6.43 Omani rials [Dh61]) is my pick here, but the burgers look good, too. Mekong is great for a special evening out, offering a selection of Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine in a relaxed, atmospheric setting. I can recommend the pad Thai goong (8.07 Omani rials [Dh77]) – it’s as good as any dish of its kind anywhere, and I am equally impressed by the quality of the service.
Being able to choose the music for my massage treatment (58.5 Omani rials [Dh558]) and the sketch pad and pencils offered in the room.
The interruption during my downtime and noisy air-conditioning unit.
A family-friendly resort ideal for GCC travellers who are looking for privacy not too far from home.
The bottom line
Rooms at Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara (www.salalah.anantara.com) start from 127.7 Omani rials (Dh1,218) per night, including taxes and Wi-Fi.
This review was done at the invitation of the hotel.