Oman takes centre stage: Christopher Biggins discovers the cure for panto stress
Pantomime is a big job for me every year: two performances a day, six days a week for five weeks is quite a demanding schedule. So a holiday to a sunny clime before or after a season is a necessity.
This year we decided on Oman and the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa.
Unforgettable: Christopher with his partner at the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa
One of the joys of Oman is that it’s only six hours from the UK. So no jet lag. Our preferred airline is Emirates, they are simply the best.
As a 65-year-old larger man I will not turn right on a plane and I would rather not travel at all unless I have a bed. Emirates have more than beds: they have a style that money can’t buy.
As for the resort, it has three hotels on the lovely turquoise waters of the Gulf of Oman, which offer a contrast with the shimmering mountains rearing up behind.
Each of the hotels has its own ambience. Al Waha has child-friendly luxury with a choice of pools and seductive architecture straight out of A Thousand and One Nights.
Beautifully situated on the beach between Al Waha and the second of the hotels – Al Bandar – is the excellent Bait al Bahr fish restaurant. It provides delicious food, tremendous atmosphere and unforgettable sunsets.
But it’s at the Al Bandar where you’ll find the resort’s principal restaurants, in particular the Al Tanoor, which serves Arabian Gulf dishes in a traditional Omani setting.
It’s wonderfully designed with Arabian tents, pottery and vibrant colours – a feast for the eyes while you wait for the dishes to be prepared at open cooking stations.
In addition to Arabian cuisine, the menu, which changes daily, incorporates Mediterranean, Persian, Indian and Turkish favourites, as well as a mouthwatering selection of fresh fruit and juices.
Day trip: Oman’s capital Muscat is a surprisingly agreeable place
Our all-time favourite, however, was Capri Court, which serves excellent Italian food. From here you can look directly up to Al Husn, the third and main hotel, whose design is inspired by Arabian palaces.
It is truly spectacular. There is a sensational infinity pool and a great pool cafe. A short walk takes you down to an attractive private bay lined with luxurious day beds.
The Al Husn also has a restaurant of its own – Sultanah – which serves historically wonderful breakfasts and in the evenings stages theme nights. On one, for example, we were invited to imagine that we were on a ship sailing around the world – and dine accordingly.
Within the resort as a whole there are 16 bars and restaurants. You can never get bored and you never need to leave the resort to find a place to eat. Everything you could ever need is right here.
If you fancy an excursion, take the 15-minute drive to Oman’s capital Muscat – a surprisingly agreeable place. The hotel can also recommend a variety of trips into the desert. It has to be admitted, however, that it’s quite difficult to lever yourself free of the resort’s luxuries.
We met wonderful people there who were back for their six, seventh and even eighth visits. As they were enjoying a hotel with luxurious rooms, very caring staff, wonderful food and gorgeous weather, it’s not hard to see what keeps them coming back. In fact, we’re already saving up for a return visit…
Emirates (emirates.com, 0844 800 2777) flies from Gatwick to Muscat from £399 if you book by May 30. A double room at Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort starts from around £134 per room per night. Visit shangri-la.com or call 0800 028 3337.
Source: Daily Mail Travels