You don’t simply happen upon Six Senses Zighy Bay. Wedged between a jagged mountain range and the untouched waters of Zighy Bay in Musandam, Oman, this eco-luxe resort takes some seeking. Once you’ve made the two-hour drive from Dubai, you have a few options: tackle the sharp, twisty road in your own SUV; wait for a chauffeur-driven transfer; cruise into the beach via speedboat; or, most impressively, strap in for a paraglide ride from the top of Zighy Mountain to the shore below. So very James Bond.
As we pull up to reception in our dusty SUV, a guest with far more coin than us is making that daredevil descent, and over the course of our weekend stay we watch countless others arrive in style. We soon realise that Six Senses Zighy Bay attracts a level of clientele we rarely rub shoulders with – and at a cool US$2000 a night (AU$2780), that’s not surprising really. But we’re here to review the new menus, so the eye-popping accommodation bill has been taken care of, along with our meals.
Six Senses Zighy Bay prides itself on its eco cred, so after checking in we’re bundled into a golf cart for a tour of the resort, taking in the organic vegetable garden, native beehives, and private desalination plant. There’s a larger permaculture farm nearby that’s rearing cows, chickens and goats, and in the future the hotel hopes to get to a point where they can source 80 per cent of their produce locally.
We’re told that the resort’s also committed to removing single use plastic, and that the only obstacle that remains is plastic bin liners. So, we’re a little perplexed when we find Nespresso coffee pods, plastic shower caps and a few other not-so-green accoutrements in our room – apparently, the clientele don’t take too kindly to plunging their own coffee pot or getting their hair wet.
Still, the environmental efforts are commendable, and the rustic-chic rooms are far more eco-minded than your average hotel stay. There’s the thick stone walls to insulate against the heat, high timber ceilings and fans for ventilation, unbleached cotton sheets, refillable soap and shampoo containers, and glass bottles filled with drinking water from that de-sal plant (the super-saline offshoot is pumped into a stunning lagoon pool that rivals the Dead Sea in terms of floatability). This kind of raw, unpolished decor isn’t going to be everyone’s taste, but I for one love the back-to-nature vibe. Each suite comes with a slate-tiled pool, sundeck with loungers, and an enclosed courtyard, although you’ll have to fork out extra for a beach view.
For Simon and I, this is our first weekend away without Frankie, so we instantly slip into off-duty mode. We start with lunch at Summer House, an alfresco eatery set back from the beach, where we start with Champagne and a plate of sea bream ceviche with pickled cucumber, pomegranate and a citrus dressing. My main course of chargrilled Omani lobster with hollandaise and grilled vegetables is elegantly simple, while Simon’s wagyu burger with Emmental, egg and brisket is obscenely rich (and at what amounts to about AU$75, is also priced for the obscenely rich.)
With no plans for the afternoon, we head back to our suite and spend a few hours in the pool, sipping rosé from the in-room cellar. Come nightfall, we gather back at reception for a drive to the top of Zighy Mountain, where the hotel’s Sense On the Edge restaurant clings to the cliff. We join a group of other journalists to sample the chef’s new tasting menus, available in five, seven or nine courses, maxing out at around AU$360 for the nine-plate option, including matched wines. Over the course of five hours, we dine on Asian-meets-Mediterranean tastes, including Japanese-accented tuna tartare with sesame, spring onion and yuzu; scallops with apple, cauliflower and basil; plump pan-fried gnocchi with morels; and a Southeast Asian-style dessert of lemongrass mousse with pandan and coconut.
It’s close to midnight by the time we get back to the hotel, and then Simon and I spend another 20 minutes wandering the sandy paths trying to find our suite, having not taken any real notice of where it was located. We sleep well that night.
At breakfast the next day, we help ourselves to the Spice Market buffet (muesli and fruit for me; doughnuts, cakes and pastries for Simon), drink detox juices to atone for last night, and order spicy shakshuka and masala omelettes from the a la carte menu. After a quick swim in the sea, it’s time to check out. Before departing, however, we squeeze in one final lunch at Zighy Bar, enjoying a tapas spread of tuna tataki, satay skewers, chilli prawns, avocado tacos and empanadas. It’s the kind of light, crowd-pleasing food you crave on holidays, and at around AU$100 for the five dishes, not nearly as steep as the rest of the resort’s offerings.
And while the location may be unbeatable, the eco approach admirable, and the photo opps endless, there’s no getting around the price factor here. But if you’re splurging on a special occasion or have plenty of cash to splash, then by all means buckle into that paraglider and make yourself at home.
The writer was a guest of Six Senses Zighy Bay