Destination Hotspot – Muscat, Oman
Muscat, the capital of Oman, is a busy petroleum and trade center located on the Arabian Sea along the Gulf of Oman. Muscat is actually three small towns laid out along a corniche that is breathtaking in its understatement. Only since the early 1990s has Oman been "open" to tourism, although the Sultan is taking steady action to make the country appealing to tourists, such as liberalizing entry requirements and building tourist facilities.
Muscat offers travelers a good look at Oman’s rich past and history. Take a trip to Mutrah (the trading and residential area of Muscat) or Ruwi (the city’s commercial district) for shopping, exploring and getting a glimpse of everyday life. Architectural wonders include the enormous Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque – up to 20,000 of the devout worship here at once, and its musalla (prayer room) contains the world’s largest hand-woven carpet. It’s open to non-Muslim visitors but remember to wear appropriate clothing (no shorts for men, while women should be well covered, including a headscarf).
In October 2011, the grand doors finally swung open to receive the inaugural visitors at the Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM) Now into its third year of operation, the ROHM continues to attract world-class performers to the delight of tourists and residents. The building’s exterior is simply stunning to look at; a gleaming white structure set in lush gardens, an alabaster palace visible from the far corners of the city.
The Chedi Muscat is perfect if you’re looking for an exotic or romantic hotel. This stunning property is bordered by the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Oman and natural beauty of the Hajaar Mountains. Typical Omani architecture is set off by stylish and elegant interiors with modern furnishings. The 151 rooms and suites have a spacious contemporary feel, For king beds and BOSE sound systems, I recommend a Deluxe or Deluxe Club Room. Club Suites have open-plan bathrooms with rainforest showers. The villas are set close to the beach and offer views over the lush hotel gardens.
All rooms provide access to three swimming pools, two for adults only. The hotel’s wellness amenities feature The Long Pool, a 103-m outdoor swimming pool; a 400-sq-m health club; eight new private spa treatment rooms; separate men’s and women’s steam and sauna areas; and a relaxation lounge, in addition to The Serai Pool, The Chedi Pool and two floodlit tennis courts. Choose from six restaurants including the gourmet "Beach" Restaurant or enjoy in-room dining, 24-hours a day. "The Restaurant" at the Chedi has also received many awards as best ambient eatery in Oman. The offer here includes seafood and Middle Eastern, Asian, Indian and European fare. Desserts include homemade chocolates.
For best rates visit www.ghmhotels.com/en/chedi-muscat Muscat is a destination unto itself. Hire a car and drive around the old town, take four wheel drives and go crazy in the nearby sand dunes, join the locals by the beach at sunset and watch them play cricket, dine in style on scrumptious lamb and other Middle Eastern favorites, suck on an apple or mint flavored shisha, take an early morning stroll in the old fish market by the harbour, lounge with a glass of champagne in some of the chic and trendy hotel bars or enjoy some of the best diving around. For private tours of Muscat & Oman contact Valentina at www.facebook.com/VsPrivateTours.
For all information on Oman visit www.omantourism.gov.om Emirates Airlines departs Dublin twice daily to Bahrain via Dubai. For best fares visit www.emirates.com.