Divine Serenity: The Chedi in Muscat, Oman

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An escape into the serene abode of The Chedi is at once otherworldly and majestic. This is where the Al-Hajar Mountains meet the pristine waters of the Gulf of Oman providing a landscape of wonder and tranquility. Nestled within the beauty of such natural simplicity is an elegantly devised twenty-one acre garden oasis with 158 Omani influenced guestrooms and villas including six distinct restaurants; a recently opened 13-suite Balinese spa; three swimming pools and also two executive meeting rooms making this charming boutique hotel equally suited for business and leisure travelers. I was whisked away to this precious area as soon as I stepped off the airplane and into the car driven by my friendly chauffeur who guided me down several winding roads until we reached the The Chedi.

I entered into the hotel’s main lobby presenting a small reception area to the left and a concierge desk to the right. Dimly lit with dark wood furnishings, I immediately felt at home within the space. Towering through the doorway into the central space is a large canopy in the center of the room recreating the form of a typical Bedouin tent with sofas and pillows situated underneath for social gatherings – it’s a welcoming site to see, defining at once the tradition of the hotel’s locality in Oman within a clearly modern decor and setting. I was told that if I walk out of the lobby, I’ll be able to see the hotel’s vast expanse of gardens which stretch out to towards the sea.

Friendly staff soon took my bags and propped them on a buggy which guided me down the properties winding paths until I reached my room – The Chedi Club Suite. The suite is situated around the hotel’s gardens and was placed in a single-storey block replete with countless amenities and attractive furnishings. Separated from the main hotel, guests have the advantage of increased privacy and much more space – it’s as if this were your own summer guest house. Each club suite measures sixty-seven metres under high ceilings with oversized windows providing natural light to compliment the Asian style minimalism replete with Omani detailing.The suite has a charming lounge cum-sitting area with a flat screen TV and creamy earth-toned sofas and chairs. Decorative detailing includes recreations of cultural heirlooms reminiscent of Oman’s past as well as its Indian influence. A unique feature is the availability of two ipod minis with 1500 songs connected to the Bose Wave audio system.

I’ve largely found that the decor of a hotel’s bathroom is a sign of its refinement. Elegantly styled in typical Omani architecture with Far Eastern hints, the bathroom, features a large Terrazo sunken bath, separate powerful rainshower, a bidet and additional closets. The setting is so evocative that I immediately felt pleasantly at home and at peace – it’s like a cocoon for serenity and retreat from the outside world. Luxurious bath amenities are also provided to heighten the experience.

The bedroom is just as regal as the suite’s other areas. The king-size bed is flanked with two deep red colored plush tables and a Eastern-style black chandelier decorated with intricate cut-out shapes to provide for light to beam through the room. I was immediately enamored with the minimalist style and long full-length mirrors which were placed on each wall facing the bed with a long and elegantly formed candle holder placed in the center. Perhaps it is the stunning simplicity of the decor which endows guests with a sudden feeling of serenity. It is otherworldly, calm and seemingly far away from all civilization. Complimentary amenities include a minibar, daily fresh fruit and a Nespresso machine, which, given that I am an devout espresso lover, prompted me to use it as soon as I entered the room. Unfortunately, and this is perhaps the only glitch in the design of The Chedi’s suites, the machine was placed at such an awkward angle behind an dark wood pendulum-style cabinet which refused to stay put for more than a second, that I wasn’t able to make my much-longed for cafe. A slight disappointment easily forgotten when compared to the breathtaking beauty of the hotel and its expansive gardens.

Venturing out from the suite, one easily has the impression that they are alone amidst The Chedi’s bountiful landscape. Soon after, soft voices can be heard in the distance as well as the gentle splashes of water from the many nearby pools reminding that this space is to be shared in privacy. I headed first to the Long Pool – a marvelous 103 metre long pool and the longest in the Middle East. Overlooking the Gulf of Oman in the distance, this lovely expanse seemingly extends forever and yet culminates in temple-shaped centerpiece at the end whereby one can swim beneath over arching beams and passageways reminiscent of the construction of ancient temple. After a refreshing swim, I head to the Chedi Pool Cabana and propped myself up on a nice lounge chair to enjoy the sun and read my book. Friendly waiters came to serve me with a glass of water with fresh lemon and lime wedges. Set under a constructed canopy which provides sun bathers with shade if they desire so, the pool is flanked by the hotel’s private 370 meter beach. The sand was too hot for me to venture down towards the water, but the view and comfort of this nearby natural stretch of sand was heartening given the many artificial constructions one can so easily find in Dubai where I live. The pool also offers healthy and light Mediterranean meals and after dark is decorated with traditional fire pots and candles and the soft permeating sounds of Omani music which seemingly harmonize the breaking of the waves close by.

When dusk sets the hotel begins to glow. The warm and beckoning light from candles is seen from all around; from windows, doorways and the hotels many small long corridors which leave the impression of being within a large palace. I experienced this while on the way to dinner at The Restaurant – the cream-colored walls are lit with the soft beams from a few candles and hanging ceiling lamps lighting and guiding the way. There’s a feeling of going back in time – before the advent of technology to when but only the warm glow from flickering flames provided the light which was needed. The Chedi has this sense: it is the epitome of the phrase “understated luxury.” It is humble, serene and unpretentious like the beauty which resonates from the Omani landscape.

Morning time signals a similar harmony. Light beams in from the suite’s long windows at once warming and waking up the space. Breakfast is provided at either The Restaurant or at The Club Lounge for a continental breakfast. I chose The Restaurant and relished in a stunningly set buffet replete with various kinds of fresh bread, daintily-sliced fruits, cereals and traditional Arabic fare including halloumi and goat cheese, moutabel and babaganoush – both eggplant dishes from the Levantine region made with varying ingredients such as pomegranates, parsley and tomatoes. I ordered a delicious omlette from the a la carte menu and a healthy ginger and orange juice drink. The experience was inviting, comfortable and refined. Before checking out I snuck over to the pastry shop and watched as the chefs began preparing the day’s desserts.

There are so many wonderful details tucked within The Chedi. This is The Chedi’s charm: its pristine and simple state gives way to the imagination and allows guests the pleasure of peaceful and contemplative leisure and also the possibility of uncovering more little treasures as the time goes by.

The Chedi is located in Muscat, Oman. www.ghmhotels.com +968 24524400.

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