Expert Insight: Maldives & Muscat

Our team have travelled all corners of the globe so that they can provide you with the best service and most extensive knowledge. Our Senior Travel Specialist, Fahim Baree, travelled to Maldives and Oman on Oman Airlines. He shares his experiences below:

Maldives:

Vivanta by Taj Coral Reef

vivanta_by_taj_coral_reef_aerial A 40 Minute speed boat ride from Male stands the stunning 4* all-inclusive resort Vivanta by Taj Coral Reef. The Beach Villas at this resort are semi-detached with direct access to the beach. Each villa has its own deck area and lounge seating outside the main room plus one hammock per villa on the beach. The ocean at the beach villas here can sometimes be very choppy and not very suitable for swimming. You can walk round the island in about 30 minutes and there is also a buggy service available.

The food at this resort is superb; all from menu and table service with no buffet in sight. The service level was efficient and courteous. There are three dining options with Asian, Indian and Med choices, all with great lagoon views , there is also a Thai snack shack which is an extra vivanta_by_taj_coral_reef_water_villa_decksupplement and not part of all inclusive.

There are plenty of complimentary activities to choose from including pizza making classes, water sports (kayaking and pedalo boats), late night cinema under the stars with a good choice of classic and modern films, stingray feeding at 5.30pm daily where the staff give guests food to feed the stingrays that land themselves directly on the beach. The snorkelling equipment is also complimentary which you can use in the lagoon, otherwise special coral trips can be arranged at $US60 per person. There is also a sunset cruise available, where you can usually spot a dolphin or two – charges vary. Taj have a strong belief in saying yes to client requests and will always try and accommodate guest requests.

Taj Exotica Resort & Spa

taj_exotica_resort_spa_maldives_aerial20 Minute Speed boat rode from Male with the largest lagoon in the Maldives stands the 5*+ Taj Exotica Resort & Spa. This is the Taj flagship property and you feel the service level here is very special. Spectacular clear blue waters and great diving spots surround the resort, and all arrivals are greeted with Maldives traditional drums and sea shell necklaces for each guest.

Villas are bespoke with attention to detail at a true 5 star level, many celebrities stay here for the privacy of lagoon villas. Amenities are Molton Brown of London and each villa has indoor/outdoor showers.
The island is only 800 meters in length with a central sandy footpath. I did not see my flip flops or shoes for days, it was pure barefoot luxury.

You can choose from either bed & breakfast, half board or full board options at this resort. All the food is from menu and full table service, with two restaurant choices both with lagoon view staj_exotica_resort_spa_maldives_deep_end_restauranteating plus one fine dining Michelin rated restaurant called The deep End, where high end wines and seafood are served here at a supplement, this restaurant is over water and great for special occasions.

Activities include kayaking and canoeing, jet skis all chargeable and new to island is kite surfing. Snorkelling equipment is free to take and use in Lagoon and daily trips out from $50 per person. Personally for me here is where you can find the best diving in Maldives with great marine life and coral. There is a Dive Centre at the resort so you can learn to dive if you wish!

There is a Private Pavilion dining area for special occasions, consisting of a square stilt based deck area in the middle of lagoon lit up at night for a romantic meal. You can enjoy a sunset cruise or game fishing (charges vary), or enjoy a movie under the stars at the outdoor cinema (free of charge).

Overall this resort boasts high end service and food, the beaches here are among the best I have witnessed with pure stretches of soft sand no stones/pebbles and gentles waves.

Oman:

The Chedi Muscat

the_chedi_the_long_poolOnly 20 minutes from airport and set in acres of manicured garden and pool areas, sits The Chedi Muscat in Oman. This 5*+ resort has only 160 rooms but it feels much larger. The pools are the place to be – The long pool at night has real flames surrounding the area with live entertainment and cocktails served till late.

The Rooms have a modern luxury decor, with either sea views or pool views, amenities used are Aqua di Parma luxury products. The club suites have daily refreshed mini bar complimentary and have decanters of Vodka, Gin and Whisky complimentary. Fruit and bottled water is also given daily.

It boasts a luxurious lobby, and polished marble and granite seem to be the theme with clean cut lines everywhere. I would use this hotel for stop overs to/from Maldives due to its close proximity to the airport. The beach is extensive but can be quite rocky in places. There is one central restaurant with an open kitchen concept – every aspect of your meal can be seen being made and they encourage you to sit and watch. The staff are amazing and really want you to have a nice experience at the hotel.

 

al_bustan_palace_intercontinental_lobbyAl Bustan Palace

A more established hotel for Muscat is the Al Bustan Palace. Refurbished in 2010 with mountain and sea view rooms this resort boasts new lagoon access rooms with outside deck and gate entry to lagoon. There is an impressive lobby and grounds with a 400 meter stretch of private beach.

Dining option is buffet with good quality food. The rooms were a generous size with all the 5 star amenities with bath and shower. I would use this hotel again as a stopover hotel or 4/5 nights leisure break, access to souk and marina is about 20 minutes away.

 

Shangri La Barr Al Jissah Resort

al_waha_pool345 mins from airport with a scenic mountain drive is the Shangri La Barr Al Jissah Resort. This 5* resort is split into three separate hotels; Al Waha, Al Husn and Al Bandar.

Al Waha resort is family friendly with a great kids club fully staffed with giant slides indoor play area, 40 interconnecting rooms with king and twin bed options. There is a large swimming pool and kids soft water park area which starts at 6am till dark and gets very busy in highs season. The lazy river links the Al Waha to the Al Bandar resort which is under refurbishment until 18th July 2015. Al Husn allow children in resort from 16 years old, they want to keep this exclusive and peaceful for adults. Rooms are impressive mountain and sea view with a cove area that is just like a postcard.

al_husn_private_beachFor any 5 star Dubai fan this hotel will not disappoint as its got a great feeling of luxury and service, the food standard is excellent with menu service instead of buffet. Even breakfast here is sumptuous with a grand selection of pastries and juices. This part of the Shangri La is special and I think a high repeat product. I would do a 5-7 night stay here easily.

Diving can be arranged and requires a speed boat trip to the various sites with good marine life, but it is all about relaxing and having good food and amazing spa menu with 8 couples rooms and a wide range of treatments it will spoil you.

Overall Oman and its people are out to impress they are very proud of their culture and country and it shows, the country has been voted 2nd cleanest capital next to Singapore and the Sultan has very high respect from his people for the development and future plans for Oman.

How you get there:

Oman airlines
Now operating their new fleet with award winning business class and very comfortable economy, flight connections were quick and stress free with minimal terminal walk at Muscat.
Economy have larger 9 inch seat back screen with movies on demand, good legroom and good service on board. Business class has award winning seats with 17 inch screens lie flat beds and privacy shields, seat charging for all your tech and restaurant quality food with tray service. The No1 Lounge at Heathrow is a large lounge just through departure gates with a wide selection of drinks and food, with menu service for additional hot food. Very comfortable lounge seating and directly facing airside for some plane action. Definitely recommended before departing to really get your holiday off to the best start.

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