Remarkable High Mountain Hotel Opens in Oman

STORY BY Patrick 9th March 2017

There’s a preconception that countries in the Middle East are fairly flat, hot, sandy nations but in fact several have their own high mountain terrain, including Oman, where a remarkable new resort hotel has just opened for mountain lovers, perched over 2,000 metres above sea level on the curving rim of a great canyon in Jabal Al Akhdar – an area that had long been considered completely inaccessible.

Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort was designed by the award-winning firm Atelier Pod, who were the winners of an architecture and interior design contest having been shortlisted from ten internationally recognised design companies.  It has reportedly been five years in the making, quite a rarity in this fast moving region.

Jabal Al Akhdar, Arabic for “The Green Mountain”, is a towering massif on the Sultanate of Oman’s vast Saiq Plateau. The luxury resort is located on a 66,000 m² cliff edge plot, with a total built-up area of 24,000m² including 115 rooms and villas, six restaurants and lounges, a signature spa and recreation facilities.

Before working on their concept, Lotfi Sidirahal, Atelier Pod’s principal, spent several days with his team visiting the area in order to fully identify with the site’s locality on architectural, communal, and traditional scopes before initiating the resort’s design.

“The immersive excursion included meeting the mountains’ communities, re-drawing the architectural and landscape details of Birkat al Mawz and Jabreen fort, and of course exploring the primitive vernacular typologies that testify to the people’s historical lifestyle,” a statement issued on behalf of the company states, and continues,

“The designer configures visitors’ experience in sequences in order to arouse distinctive emotions inspired by the view, the architecture, and the landscape.”

Sidirahal explains; “We designed the entrance with the idea of a fort in mind. The exterior, with its great wooden doors, impressively showcases commanding strength. There is a dramatic contrast upon entry as the interior gives a delicate and voluptuous impression with a majestic open courtyard featuring lush green terraces and a falaj.”

In the lobby, the guests are greeted by a wooden geodesic dome spanning over ten metres in diameter with a peaceful contemporary fountain centred beneath it.

As they make their way through to the central courtyard decorated by revisited Omani arcades, they can catch a first glimpse of a striking rectilinear frame, increasing the perspectival depth of the mountain silhouettes, stretching over the garden terraces and beyond to the dramatic gorge.

With a large open fireplace serving as a central focal point, the courtyard is unmistakably the heart of the resort. An emanating protective warmth contrasts with the breathtaking cliff-side, injecting an invading vastness in the pool, rooms, and villas.

The patio brings together a souk, a coffee shop, a library, as well as pathways leading to the main restaurant and banquet facilities.

A freestanding tower on the western side of the courtyard is a testament to the ancient Omani Keep, or Burj, distinctive by its conical curvature and smooth encircling ramp, with an otherwise contemporary function. The tower houses a lounge and a specialty restaurant while also serving as an observation tower for a night under a blanket of stars. The rooftop was inspired by the high firing platforms of Nakhal Fort on one hand, and the rooftop courtyard of Jabreen Castle on the other.

For active adventurers activities on offer include mountain biking and guided mountain hiking. For families there’s a Kids Club and the Jabal Teens Club and for everyone there’s a Recreation centre, tennis court and fitness centre.

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