Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Jewel on the Gulf; My Holiday Simon Armstrong Left the Glitz and Glamour of Dubai Behind to Try the Laid-Back Atmosphere of Neighbouring Oman

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Jewel on the Gulf; My Holiday Simon Armstrong Left the Glitz and Glamour of Dubai Behind to Try the Laid-Back Atmosphere of Neighbouring Oman

Article excerpt

SITTING beneath the stars, all is calm. A full moon glows against the night sky and the rugged mountains stretch far into the distance.

With wine glasses full and a selection of seafood delights on our plates, we're sitting on the roof terrace of the Bait Al Bahr restaurant enjoying an idyllic introduction to the best of Omani cuisine and culture.

Like its neighbour Dubai, the sultanate is keen to attract Western holidaymakers.

But whereas the former is big and brash, screaming for attention with its giant skyscrapers and ostentatious resorts, the latter is a much more traditional and restrained affair.

They're seemingly a world apart in their outlook, but only an hour by plane. And their proximity is being exploited by tourism chiefs who are keen to boost growing numbers of visitors further.

Dramatic desert Emirates runs daily services to Dubai from Newcastle Airport and regular transfers from there to Muscat, the Omani capital.

After a few days with the family enjoying adrenaline-charged thrills and spills, why not kick back in style in dramatic desert surroundings? It's certainly an attractive prospect.

Part of the luxurious Shangri-La chain, the 125-acre Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa comprises three hotels and is a 45-minute drive from the airport.

The five-star Al Bandar is our home for three nights. Translated as The Town, its ornate architecture takes its inspiration from old Muscat.

The focal point of the resort, guestrooms have a balcony or terrace with views of the sea, garden or swimming pool.

Al Waha (The Oasis) is family-orientated, while Al Husn (The Castle) is aimed at an exclusive crowd.

Our first afternoon at the Barr Al Jissah afforded a welcome opportunity to recharge our batteries.

And what a way to recharge them - stretching back on a comfy lounger as the sun beats down and the blue waters of the Gulf of Oman lap the pristine beach in front of us.

With a smile and a warm greeting from each member of staff you meet, there are no concerns over the standard of service. …

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