As a rule, I tend to avoid blogging about anything directly to do with my work, but in this case I'm more than happy to post about this hotel as I've been involved in the construction of it over the last 4 years. The Al Baleed Resort by Anantara in Salalah is Oman's newest (even newer than the Anantara Al Jebal Al Akhdar resort) 5 star resort and it's situated right on the coast down in Salalah. It's actually in Salalah versus the last major hotels to open there (Rotana, Juweira, Mariott) which is a bonus too. The hotel has been built by Musstir, which is an arm of MB Holdings.
In my job here in Oman over the last decade I've either worked on, or visited every single 5 star hotel in the country. I have to say that the product offered at the Al Baleed resort in Salalah is nearly unique in the Oman market. In fact I could really only say that Six Senses in Zighy Bay, and Anantara's Al Jabal Al Akhdar resorts are the only 2 other properties in Oman that compete with Al Baleed.
Why? Well you get your own villa as your "room". And most of the villa's have pools in them, from memory I think something like 88 of the 106 villa's. Each of the pool villa's has a day bed outside with the pool, plus most have two entrance steps into the pool, one from your private courtyard, and the other from your bathroom.
Now that's pretty handy for a quick dip!
Walking around the resort is like being transported to some lush tropical country as grass, trees and shrubs are growing everywhere, which blends really nicely with the numerous water features and timber panelling features dotted all over the place. Actually the last time I was there I noticed that the banana trees were growing bananas (which I was shocked to learn is a bit of a problem because once they bear fruit the plant dies apparently) and the coconut palms were also bearing fruit (or are they nuts?) too. However, my favourite part of this experience (as a guest) is going in the tuk-tuk's that the hotel had specially imported into Oman for this purpose.
Anyway, back to the villas. You can of course stay in a regular hotel room, there's 32 of those in the main hotel building spread across two floors, and they all have fantastic views over the grounds and the sea which you can see from both your bedroom (and balcony) and also your soaking bathtub too, But lets be honest. these villa's are amazing and if I was travelling all the way to Salalah, quite frankly I'd want one of these villa's as my hotel room. A quick tip here, its always worth asking about the possibility to upgrade to a villa room at check-in because they'll be able to offer you the best deal if occupancy allows it.
There are HD TV's in every bedroom and in every lounge, and your standard 1 bedroom villa consists of: A private courtyard (usually with a pool), a lounge room, bedroom and ensuite bathroom. Back to the TV's, I saw both OSN Sports and BeIN sports, so for those of you wondering about "catching the game", you have a pretty strong chance of being able to whilst on holiday at this hotel.
There is an amazing spa and hammam (the hammam is due to open in the new year) in its own bespoke building next to the main hotel building. The area just exudes calmness and tranquillity and is genuinely a nice place to visit all on its own. The treatment rooms are spacious and purpose built, a far cry from many of the "spa's" you find in hotels here in Muscat (and Salalah for that matter). A nice touch is that there are tranquillity gardens to sit in before or after your treatments which continues the lush greenery theme of the resort right into the spa.
There are a number of places to eat at the hotel, the most obvious being the all day dining area which offers both indoor and outdoor seating. I really like the outdoor seating because the seating area is below the reflection pool level, so you sort of sit at the table and there's a lot of water at head height. I'm probably not explaining it very well but I liked it.
In addition to this, there is the beach cafe which amongst many other things has a really fancy pizza oven which was imported at the direct request of the chef! All I can say about that is.. I highly recommend the pizza's! I can also highly recommend the mixed grill, which is what I ate the last time I was there. Hand on my heart, it was a complimentary meal from the hotel, but it was also the best meal I've ever had in Salalah, and I've been to all the major hotels there for meals many times. It really was cooked so well.
The last restaurant I knew only as 10A - Speciality Restaurant for the last 4 or so years. I finally learned its name in October. Mekong, and it is amazing. It sits right on the khor that leads out to the sea and is a natural split between the Al Baleed archaeological park and the hotel resort. Everything inside is timber panelled with large windows to make the most of the view. The hotel has it's liquor license and the finer points of this is that the hotel has a wine sommelier (who I'm told uses a sword - sorry - sabre - to open bottles of bubbly) and a cocktail mixologist too. I'd say that Mekong is easily the best restaurant in all of Salalah, and so if you live there, I'd definitely go and check out Mekong for a meal.
Being in Salalah, I guess a lot of people wonder what there actually is to do there, having gone there practically every month for the last 4 years my initial response is "the new airports business lounge is nice, I recommend doing that"! But as a tourist, there is actually quite a few things to do. The hotel's name, Al Baleed, is actually (I think) due to the fact that the immediately adjacent to the hotel there is the Al Baleed archaeological park which is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Fun fact that I know from the construction of the hotel, Musstir paid to have the entire construction site raised by a few meters by importing soil to protect any undiscovered remains that may have been in the site area.
There is the opportunity to go diving, fishing, dolphin watching, for a cruise in a dhow, or just plain old water sports in the sea. But then you also have the opportunity to visit one of the numerous ancient ruins (some of them being walking distance from your room - in fact the hotel has a running route which goes around the ruins) in and around Salalah. Then there is of course the Dhofari mountains and all that comes with them: frankinsense trees, waterfalls, wadi's and the experience of being in a cloud during the Khareef season too. And there is somewhere in Salalah that you can actually roll uphill in a car. Some weird magnet thing or something I don't know, but it's true, google says so.
Well I never, cars rolling uphill. The point being, that there actually are quite a lot of things to do in Salalah as a tourist (other than the whole sit-in-a-cloud-during-the-khareef thing). Speaking of the Khareef (which is usually June - August) my actual top recommendation for when to visit Salalah is immediately after the khareef has finished.
All the clouds have gone, the temperatures are still cool, and everything is green as far as the eye can see. It's really quite something, standing up on the mountains over-looking Salalah and all you can see all the way to the sea is a green carpet.
The hotel are currently offering an opening special to residents of Oman from RO 108/night and if your keen, Oman Air are also offering package holidays including flights too (which by the way, is about RO 63 return in economy class, RO 140ish return in Business class). To get in touch with the hotel, you can call them on +968 2322 8222 or email them, or you could visit their website.
Now you know!