The view alone is spectacular. The blue water of the bay contrasts with the mountains surrounding it, and a strip of deep green palms and stone villas nest along the beach. It's simply inviting. From the mountain top guests can either drive down the many hairpin turns to the resort, or if they want a new approach, do a tandem paraglide on arrival, floating through the air with a bird's eye view of Oman's award-winning resort and spa.
"Being able to arrive by paraglide is great! I recommend paraglide arrival for people who are arriving after a long flight. You're tired, you're winded, and there's nothing better to propel you into relaxing and being on your vacation than flying into your destination. It's serene. It's very powerful," says Monica Majors, the resort's PR and media manager.
Six Senses Zighy Bay is expensive, but its combination of luxuriousness, adventure and impeccable service make it worth a visit. Each guest is treated with warmth and sensitivity. From the delicious date smoothie at the reception, to a welcome letter in the villa, and the care and concern of a personal butler, one feels like a celebrity throughout their stay. The villas offer a comfort and serenity that combines luxury with an authentic feeling of Oman. The stone floors are made with materials from the Hajar Mountains and wooden ceilings are a step back in time. The wooden coffee tables double as reversible chess and backgammon boards.
Each villa has its own little pool and Omani features such as an outdoor majlis or summer house made from date palm branches. While there are a variety of activities to occupy your time at Six Senses Zighy Bay, Monica has a couple of recommendations.
"Must-do? Definitely the dhow cruise and the paraglide. The dhow cruise is a very Omani experience. The coastline here is fantastic," she explains. There is a sunset cruise, complete with delicious gourmet canapés and sparkling date juice, and a day cruise in which guests spend five hours on and off the boat snorkelling, fishing, kayaking, lounging on the deck and enjoying lunch at sea. She also recommends visiting the mountains with a 4x4 to visit abandoned villages and admire the canyons and strong geographical formations in the rocks. Called the "Sabatyn 4x4," the experience also involves some treks. Guests can choose from a daytime trip or one at sunset, complete with a campfire.
"You feel like you're in an ancient world, even though it's only 50 to 100 years old. There's something interesting about the timeline here in Oman. There's so much history yet so much of it has been washed away by the wadis."
The stone houses in the area were purposely built very small because people knew they were likely to be destroyed by floods. Part of the natural cycle included rebuilding homes, she adds.
Other activities to enjoy include kayaking, scuba diving, fishing, wake-boarding and waterskiing, mountain-biking, and playing games like volleyball and tennis. There are also plenty of ways to simply relax, such as taking a yoga class on the beach, soaking in the saltwater pool, or indulging in a massage, facial or other treatment in the spa. Yoga instructor Pat Harvey ensures that even the least flexible people can learn basic yoga poses.
"There's something for everyone here. It's a great spot for privacy, and that's very important, especially for couples. For families we've got a range of things. We excel at outdoor activities," Monica says. Of course part of any memorable holiday is the food, and at Six Senses Zighy Bay you will eat incredibly well. Whether you pick an organic fig off a tree near your villa and eat it on the spot, or venture up to Sense on the Edge, a modern fine dining restaurant almost 300m above sea level, the food is sure to be fresh, organic and delicious. The chefs are delightfully creative, making unusual, yet sublime, combinations of flavours and textures.
Chilled avocado and orange soup, Khoffer fish Carpaccio with fresh citrus and basil, or an oyster made from chocolate mousse resting on chocolate sand are just a few tantalising examples from the kitchens. Since the resort opened in 2008, it has continued to expand its services. It now has a marina, a dive centre, and is adding a mountain-top observatory so guests can admire the desert skies in detail. At the spa there are plans to add new wellness programmes, such as beauty programmes and a sleep programmes aimed at people with insomnia. "We're very lucky that our owners continue to want to invest. It's necessary in this part of the world, and especially in luxury tourism to continue to change for the guests," says Monica.
Monica admits it's challenging to appeal to guests from Oman because in the time it takes to drive to Zighy Bay, they could fly somewhere else for a holiday. But a trip to Six Senses Zighy Bay is definitely worth the drive, as it offers unforgettable experiences in a beautiful corner of Oman. And once you've been there, you'll find it hard to leave, and no doubt you'll want to return, be it for a family holiday or a romantic getaway.
"Six Senses has always built its model on returning guests. We have lots on offer and certainly the family experience is something that has grown. The resort is a big enough size that you can separate families from couples who are coming away for a quiet retreat or honeymoon," Monica notes. Six Senses Zighy Bay may be a bit far from the rest of Oman, but don't let that deter you from making it your next holiday destination. It's truly a hidden gem in Oman's backyard.