WHEN PLANNING A TRIP TO THE MIDDLE EAST, one destination usually comes to mind without hesitation: the United Arab Emirates, and specifically Dubai. This placid paradise is quickly becoming the next big thing, with human-made islands, larger-than-life resorts and buildings emerging as far as the eye can see.
Yet there are other options in the Middle East that are worthy of garnering your clients' attention. For one, Oman. This country, which borders the UAE, is painted with mountain ranges in the north and along the southeast coast, and desert plains in its central region. For an intimate escape, suggest Six Senses Hideaway Zighy Bay (www.sixsenses.com/hideaway-zighybay), which celebrated its grand opening January 15. The 82-villa property is on the Musandam Peninsula, a northern area separated from the rest of Oman by the UAE, with mountains on one side and a white sand beach at Zighy Bay on the other. It's the first Middle East property managed by Six Senses Resorts & Spas, a Thai company with locations primarily in Southeast Asia. All of the resort's villas offer butler service.
Deluxe Pool Villas sport such perks as a private infinity pool, a summer house, beach access and picture-perfect views of the mountain fjords. Other accommodations include the Zighy Pool Villas, which, at more than 4,700 square feet, are a good option for those traveling with friends or family. These two-story villas have one bedroom and a living room on the bottom level and a veranda and second bedroom on the top level.
There also are two Private Retreats, which have their own beach, spa treatment room, library and kitchen. If this isn't enough space, the Private Reserve maxes out around 17,500 square feet and rests at the secluded end of Zighy Bay on its own stretch of beach. The four-bedroom Reserve has a gym, wine cellar and maid's and/or nanny's quarters, as well as private security quarters.
Make sure your clients book a treatment at the resort's spa. We hear that the Swedish and Oriental massages top the list. The name to know is spa director Elaine Okeke ([email protected]).
After a relaxing massage and a day of lounging, famished guests can enjoy cocktails with a stunning view atop the mountains overlooking Zighy Bay at Drinks on the Edge, then follow that up with local seafood delicacies at Bites or pan-Asian, Middle Eastern or Continental cuisine at Dining on the Sand. For guests not up to the challenge of leaving their glorious pad, the hotel also offers in-villa dining 24 hours a day.
Travel agents should contact reservations manager Teoh Phaik Kin ([email protected]). Sending VIPs? The area director for the Middle East is Naim N. Maadad ([email protected]), and his personal assistant, Sanjay Poduval ([email protected]), will make sure they're well taken care of.
The best way to get to the hotel is from the Dubai International Airport, about a two-hour drive. No visa is needed to enter Musandam from Dubai.