In Oman, roses grow on mountains and in gullies. Among sweet fragrances in the summer or tepid waters in the winter, in the dark over the continent you can count the shooting stars
The flight leaves late in the evening from Europe, arriving in Muscat in the early morning, from where a car will take you into the mountains, to Alila Jabal Akhdar. A journey that is even possible in the summer, when sweltering temperatures make the coast unbearable. At more than a thousand meters above sea level, you will find the climate you like: cool in the winter, a dip in the pool as risky as in April in Tuscany, but in the warmer hours it’s lovely, while from May on, it’s a poetry of roses.
You can walk the mountains, don’t be persuaded otherwise, cars are needed only to reach the start of the trails, but avoid them if you can. Start from home already equipped, good shoes and trousers for walking, always long: you will be walking through villages and perhaps going into people’s homes; respect is a must. The walls are rocky over the desert in Africa: there are sheer drops, rocks and ravines, wind in your eyes and heat on your temples—in pursuit of spirit and nature. This is snake territory, but you won’t be afraid of them. In June here in the mountains in Oman, they play golf or walk through the flowering bushes that grow on every slope, on the other side of dried-up riverbeds, the petals in Africa are wild, different from those we prune in our gardens- a thousand leaves, old pink roses. You will also come across abandoned villages, the rooms in homes that seem medieval could be from more recent times, cell-like in their tiny size but decorated like temples and talented children’s rooms. Around the back, the stalls for goats are shelters in clefts of rock.
Alila is built on stones, beneath it the ground falls away steeply, dizzily—as you lean out over the vast emptiness, there are parapets and steps that help your head. The hotel shows attention to details that relate to nature and this location that is not a location because it is out of the world. The rooms could be a little bigger for the standard and the rates that Alila promises and charges. The double beds are king size, but the room has a carpet that it shouldn’t have, a small wardrobe, not much room for a table and a sofa. And the private patio could have done with a little more care as could all the design and details in the room in general. The superior category rooms have their privacy ruined by other guests walking past, and so are not worth choosing; those at the ends of the sheer drop are better.
The central building finally shows the attention you would expect: dates, a lit fireplace, and the parlor for afternoon tea team the red of Omani fabrics embroidered with a Kashmir pattern, with ornamental opaque green glass, lamps and engraved wood. There is cake, fruit, and aromatic tea made with herbs. The outdoor pool is designed for sunset, the pink light begging for just a little more sun. Inside, a second pool is one of the architect’s most successful achievements. Not large, this tub for Cleopatra responds to the virility of a gym, with primordial trees decorate the side walls. Don’t be a wallflower at the Alila, make the effort and do some sport—physical, sensual exertion—you will realize that you are more beautiful than you think, in Oman. Mark Anthony never got get this far, to the land where Bedouins wash in the fine desert sand until their skin is a smooth as salt. Hot water serves to make ginger tea. The temperature of the Turkish bath is hotter than the human body can stand. The stars come out at night and what they say is true: on a mountain in the Emirates with almost zero noise and light pollution, they really do look close enough to touch—don’t try to count them however, the cool air will make you sleepy. Meanwhile a holy movement walks the moon.
Al Roose, Jabal Al Akhdar,
Al Jabal Al Akhdar 621, Oman