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William Sitwell travels to a
remote spot in northern Oman
to find a spot of unique luxury 

I was getting a good look at Zighy Bay. The dark blue hazy waters of the Gulf of Oman shimmered in the distance and below me was the long sandy beach of the Musandam Peninsula. To the left, nestling with palm trees was a modern, grey-stone-clad resort village and to the right a new but traditional village of sandstone houses and a mosque with its tall and handsome minaret. My feet dangled beneath me. This is the best way to orientate oneself at Six Senses Zighy Bay. A few minutes ago I had run off the edge of a cliff and then soared into the sky, a parachute up above me. Now between rugged mountains and with a gentle breeze I was a veritable eagle. Mind you I was also strapped to a Bulgarian, a paragliding expert, a man who knows what he’s doing and into whose hands I placed my life for a few minutes.


Having glided left and right across the bay we swerved steeply and then circled down in a speedy descent. I waved at my wife and children, spotting them on the beach below and then landed gently on the sand.


It was time for lunch and a walk down the beach, left past the main fresh water, swimming pool and we settled into Summer House. Here you can get stuck into a light menu of bistro style dishes, grilled meats and local seafood.


And lunch is necessarily a light affair at Zighy Bay on account of the breakfast. There are buffet breakfasts in the most luxurious hotels around the world and then there’s the offering at Spice Market. The latter in my view now sweeping the board in the arms race of elaborate resort breakfasts.


My Zighy brekkie invariably started with a shot of rocket fuel, a zingy, slap in the face affair containing raw and unpasteurised apple vinegar made palatable with a few fruit extracts. And then, any hangover or sleepiness duly cast off, while there was every type of berry and fruit, seed or nut, along with the likes of matcha green tea chia pudding, mueslis, overnight oatmeals, fruit salad, the finest crumbliest most buttery croissants and pain-au-chocolat and every type of egg imaginable, I would succumb to an Arab breakfast; a flatbread, for example, of gently spiced tuna and a seriously dark coffee.


Zighy does what many grand hotels don’t, while it wraps you in the offer of international cuisine, the staff also encourage you to eat local.


One evening on our visit we gathered beach-side under a tented dining area called Shua Shack and, Bedouin-style, ate slow-cooked land which had been buried beneath the sand slowly roasting for some eight hours from the heat of hot rocks.


This homage to local traditions follows the philosophy of the place. Constructed 13 years ago the owners re-housed the local people, building them a village, designed in the Arab style and alongside the resort’s commitment to sustainability access has provided local women with access to education, English lessons and there’s employment for the men.


The sustainability project involves tree planting, regular beach and ocean clean-ups, recycling and a commitment to use wood and repair on site items such as tables and sun-loungers. Where possible the chefs shop in the local markets and just outside the nearest town of Dibba Six Senses runs its own market garden, Dibba Farm. There they grow veg, fruit, herbs, keep chickens and goats for eggs and milk as well as nurture nutritional sprouts and make cheese.


And on my visit I toured the inner workings of the resort’s water treatment plant, both for sewage and the sophisticated reverse osmosis process used to desalinate sea water.


After that elaborate breakfast, served as ever by the friendliest staff – or hosts as everyone from gardener to manager is known – the morning could move from villa plunge pool, to ocean, to fresh-water pool, to salt-water pool.


And you can be as busy or lazy as you wish. Each morning, outside Spice Market the day’s possibilities are written up on a sandwich board. So that might be some morning pedal-boating, guided snorkelling (you can spot the green turtles they are nurturing), soap or paper-making, a spot of Hatha yoga, breathing classes, a massage or health and well-being analysis at the spa, a rigorous beach boot camp workout or a mixology class. Later you can watch the sun go down high up on the resort’s mountain bar, Sense on the Edge, and maybe stay up there for a Japanese Kaiseki dinner or head back for a dinner of Italian fare with an accompanying wine tasting, or a Mediterranean grill (a feast I witnessed that included lobster, steak, and ceviche) and then some star-gazing by the sea.


I took part in the latter and had a good tour of the galaxy taking in Jupiter, a number of her moons, before getting an amazing long study of the moon.  


Now, you can dive in to these public food offerings and to my mind a grand and impeccable buffet is always irresistible, or you can choose to dine in style in the privacy of your own villa. But then you can’t wander the food stalls, chat to the chefs and suss out the other guests.


Which is what I feel is necessary on an island paradise to see who else is blissfully shipwrecked. And it is like an island. Until Six Senses came there was just a dirt track accessible only on foot or by donkey. The resort built a new road, which still keeps those with a fear of heights on their toes, and it's a long drive along a dirt track from Dibba before you find that road.


Eventually up and over the mountain and the bay spreads out before you. The entrance is then on the plain and feels like an arrival at a grand fort. A man dressed in white robes and turban bangs a huge gong and you enter through a sandstone arch.


Thus your immaculate sojourn begins with days and nights spread out before you aided by those fabulous hosts. On our arrival I spotted guests leaving and embracing members of staff like they were old friends. We had the same feeling when we left. Sad to go, but so grateful for the almost maternal care they offer.


Our pledge as we left to get home and work harder and do better so we can have more nights at Zighy.


For more info and booking click here  

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