Oman! Growing up all my life in the Arabian Gulf, this Gateway to Arabia was still a surprise for me. As soon as we landed in Muscat I was immediately taken in by the enchanting calm city built among rocky hills. And not far from Muscat, on the North eastern shore of Oman is the Bay of Al-Jissa, the superb setting for a top class resort. Our stay at ShangriLa Barr Al-Jissa was absolutely mind blowing. We had had a pleasant experience with this brand’s hospitality previously in Maldives and Doha. This time their property became officially the best family friendly resort we have visited.
After exiting the Muscat Airport into the hot afternoon sun, we were eager to board our taxi and be on the way. After haggling a bit with the local taxi drivers we finally settled on a price which we thought is reasonable as we were expecting a long drive. However, it was just a 30 minute short and incredibly scenic drive through Muscat, we passed some of the major attractions like the Opera house and the Sultan Qaboos Mosque. As we neared the resort, the road slopes up the cliff and took some sharp curves at a height which provided a beautiful view of the Gulf of Oman. The entrance and lobby truly give a feel of an Arabian inspired oasis that it is.
The resort has two wings – a couples only Al Husn resort and the family focused Al Waha and Al Bandar. We were staying in the Al Bandar hotel in a deluxe resort view room. The room was airy and spacious enough to accommodate the baby cots and throughout the stay our requests were well catered to.
What makes it our favorite family friendly destination?
The pristine sandy bay of Al Jissa extends inwards with a backdrop of jagged mountains. The beach is exceptionally clean and the soft sand makes for great sandy play. The shallow low tide is another great feature for swimming with the kids.
This beautiful beach is also one of the five major nesting sites in Oman for the Hawksbill Turtle. With a dedicated turtle ranger on the property, an eco centre providing awareness and information and free talks for the hotel guests the resort makes sure to protect these endangered species. We were blessed to be there during the breeding season and thrilled to witness the release of these tiny creatures into the sea.
The pools and the Lazy River
In addition to the incredibly large, beautifully designed adult pools complete with in-pool loungers, there are two dedicated pools for the kids. Both feature a spray fountain which adds loads to the splashing fun. Connecting these two pools and running the span from Al Bandar to Al Waha is the lazy river. This was by far our favourite place to be. The kids in their floats and us in the tubes we spent hours floating through the green hued water in the ever so gentle current. The best part was the dense foliage around this course which shaded from the sun and we felt like we were floating through a rain forest. Bonus: try to spot the various flowers and plants with your kids as you float around.
The Splash Pad
At the right most end of the beach near the carved rock formation is the kid’s special splash pad. It was by far the kid’s favourite place as they jumped and splashed around among the numerous water fountains, sprays, splashing bucket and water guns. The view of the beach from this angle is gorgeous too.
Kid’s activity center and Baby sitting services
With a dedicated activity center for kids with a whole lot of toys, games and scheduled activities throughout the day, this was another well-loved place in the resort. In addition, reasonable priced baby sitting service is available upon request should you need to have a kids free time to enjoy the numerous activities at the resort.
Kid friendly menus
Most of the numerous restaurants around the resort offer a kid’s menu. The lunch and dinner buffet also features a kid’s section in most restaurants. Also worth a special mention is the in room dining option. Eating out with the kids can be quite the hassle. We found that the in room dining menu to be extremely delicious and served luxuriously on a portable dining table. This was our go-to option for dinner and breakfast during our stay.
Host of other fun activities
The landscaped gardens, the huge chess board by the beach, the mini golf area are to name a few. There are plenty of activities for the little guests of this hotel to enjoy.
We truly enjoyed our stay with the little ones at this luxurious resort and would recommend it as one of the top family friendly resort.
Disclaimer: Our stay at the resort was purchased during a promotional offer by the ShangriLa Hotels including redemption of Golden Circle loyalty points. The choice to review and all opinions stated are our own.