Sipping on sundowners poolside with a view over the sleepy Gulf of Oman isnâ€™t how I envisioned a trip to the Middle East. Then again, the 21-acre Chedi Muscat isnâ€™t exactly in the business of adhering to the norms. Bringing sexy to this coastal city mired in historical opulence, The Chedi Muscat has successfully blended modern lux with old-world charm in a resort that is the definition of a desert oasis, and the antithesis of what many assume they know about the region.
While Dubai and Abu Dhabi have certainly been playing monopoly with the fanciful in the gulf region, it is Muscat that has been quietly climbing the ladder of preferred Middle Eastern getaways, gaining enough steam to help land Oman on the New York Timesâ€™ list of 52 Places to Visit in 2015. A city that doesnâ€™t permit buildings to top eight stories and requires all of which that are built to prioritize Arabic-influenced architecture, the culturally rich and traditionally grounded Muscat is the perfect subdued counterbalance to the likes of its eccentric Arabic neighbors who have continued to build upwards and outwards. But donâ€™t let the low-lying skyline and lack of man-made islands fool you, Muscat knows luxury well. Step into The Chedi Muscat, a 158-room ultra-lux resort that will capture you with its unique blend of luxury and tradition and one will easily see how.
Situated in the Al Ghubra region of Muscat, 15 minutes from Muscat International Airport, I am welcomed into The Chedi Muscat in its tradition-rich lobby which features a melange of red, white and cream-colored lanterns which hang over a throw of cushions and pillows that are sat atop a large Arabic rug. What I notice next is the tented roof which houses the lobby and adds an extra desert caravan feel to the seaside retreat. While it is here that I immediately recognize what part of the world I am in, itâ€™s only the beginning of my trip through Muscatâ€™s paradise.
From here I make my way through the permeating frankincense to The Restaurant, a multiple-award-winning fine-dining experience under the direction of French-born-and-trained executive chef Sebastien Cassagnol that features four different open-kitchens specializing in Western, Indian, Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also featured in The Restaurant is the heralded bakery, which has a dedicated head baker and staff that specialize in churning out some of the most delicate chocolates, ice creams, sorbets and pastries this side of the Gulf. But The Restaurant isnâ€™t the only dining option available, and for those who want something truly Muscat-lux, head down to The Beach Restaurant, the resortâ€™s sea-view restaurant that sits on a private 370-meter beach with both indoor and alfresco dining, and dive into some of the freshest local seafood fares in the Middle East.