From Airbus To Megabus: A Trip Of Contrasts
Review: Six Senses Zighy Bay Villa
Review: Six Senses Zighy Bay Activities & Dining
Review: Al Maha Bedouin Suite
Review: Al Maha Desert Resort Dubai Dining
Review: Al Maha Desert Resort Dubai Activities
Review: Dubai International First Class Lounge DXB
Review: Qatar Airways First Class A320 Dubai To Doha
Review: Qatar Airways First Class A380 Doha To London
Review: British Airways First Class A380 London To Los Angeles
Review: British Airways A380 First Class Tasting Menu
Review: Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Airport LAX
Review: American Flagship Lounge Los Angeles LAX
Review: American First Class A321 Los Angeles To New York
Review: Hilton Austin Airport
Early last year I visited Muscat, Oman, which I found to be my favorite major city in the Middle East.
Over the years I’ve heard nothing but great things about the natural beauty of Oman. Heck, the slogan for the country’s tourism board is “beauty has an address… Oman.” Admittedly you shouldn’t trust a tourism board, but I think this video supports the case for Oman’s natural beauty:
Point being, I had long heard about the Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman. What makes it unique is that it’s driving distance to Dubai, and it takes less than two hours to get from Dubai International Airport to the resort.
We were staying in early October, which is still slow season (which isn’t surprising, given that it was hot). The paid rates were ~$1,000 per night, and this hotel belongs to Virtuoso, so you can get extra perks by booking through them.
In the interest of full disclosure I managed to get a media rate for our two night stay, which was a bit more than half of that, plus a 17.4% tax and service charge (I was still paying over $600 per night). The rate included breakfast.
On top of that, transfers from Dubai Airport to the resort cost $195.
With that in mind, let’s get into the review.
We landed from Dallas on Emirates at around noon, and as we got to the arrivals hall someone from the hotel was waiting for us. We began the drive to the Six Senses, which took us through the UAE for about 75 minutes, as we passed Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, etc.
Then it came time for the border crossing. We had submitted our passport information in advance, and as we got close to the border another car met us, and handed our driver some papers. Obviously this was perfectly planned out, though not being familiar with the exact process, it felt hilariously sketchy.
Then we got up to the border, which was simply a two lane road with a gate which would be similar to what you’d see at a toll plaza. Obviously this isn’t intended as a major border crossing between the two countries, but rather just for the “locals.” Our driver got out of the car, handed the officer our papers, and within a couple of minutes we were through the border. It was seamless.
About 20 minutes after entering Oman the drive got really interesting. The Six Senses is located in Zighy Bay, which is basically an area surrounded on all sides by mountains.
We started driving up a really steep dirt road. I could only imagine the amount of wear and tear a drive like this puts on our GMC Yukon.
When we got to the top of the mountain we stopped briefly and took in the breathtaking view of Zighy Bay. Wow. All the “civilization” in the below picture is the resort.
Then there’s also a small fishing village in Zighy Bay, which is visible in the below picture.
From there it was maybe a 15 minute drive down the hill, before we pulled up to the resort.
The area to the side of the lobby had a covered driveway, which was much appreciated given the temperatures outside.
We were welcomed to the hotel by several staff waiting outside, and directed to the lobby. At check-in we were introduced to Danny, who would be our “GEM.” That stands for “guest experience maker,” so it’s basically the person who is your contact point at the hotel for planning activities, making dinner reservations, etc. We were also informed that breakfast would be served daily from 7AM until 11AM at Spice Market, one of the hotel’s main restaurants.
We were driven in a golf cart to our villa. All the accommodations at the resort are villas, and there are a total of 82 of them. There are several categories of villas, as there are both one and two bedroom villas, and there are also different categories within those sizes (pool villa, spa villa, beachfront villa, etc.).
We were assigned villa 69, which was a standard pool villa.
It took me nearly our entire stay to figure out the numbering system, since our room said what looked to me like 79, but apparently it was actually room 69. Then it was explained to me the room numbers were written in Arabic, and that the Arabic number for “6” looks similar to what we recognize as “7.” Ah!
The resort is a bit spread out, so there were two bikes assigned to our villa, which had our room numbers on them (not that I imagine there’s much bike theft at the resort).
Then there was a pot of water for cleaning feet before entering the villa. Six Senses resorts are all about nature, so walking around barefoot is encouraged.
At the exterior of the villa was a cute sliding “do not disturb” sign. One side showed closed eyes (“do not disturb”), while the other showed open eyes (“make my room”).
Upon entering the “gate” to the villa, we found ourselves in what can only be described as an amazing stone “complex.” Let’s talk about the outside area first.
The entrance to the room was to the left, while straight ahead were two lounge chairs under an umbrella.
To the left of that was a table with four chairs.
Then in the far corner of the outside area was an “L” shaped couch. It’s worth noting that you can also enter and exit the villa through the backside, depending on where you want to go.
The highlight of the outside area was the beautiful pool.
Even without a direct view from there, the sunrises were stunning.
In terms of the villa itself, the living room was right near the entrance from the pool area, and featured two couches, a desk, and a TV.
The table between the couches had a pretty cool chess setup.
The desk was functional, though the chair wasn’t especially ergonomic for working (then again, I think Six Senses resorts are all about escaping and not working).
Past the living room was the minibar area, with a Nespresso coffee machine and kettle.
To the right was the exterior minibar, which included an adorable Zighy Bay stuffed goat, which we couldn’t help but buy. It’s apparently produced by the locals.
Under that was the mini-fridge, with chargeable minibar items.
Past the minibar area was the bedroom, which featured a couch on the left, and then a king size bed on the right.
The bed was extremely comfortable, with a soft mattress and great pillows.
Past the bedroom was the bathroom, which featured double sinks, and then a soaking tub on the left.
Then on the right was the enclosed shower, which featured both a handheld shower head as well as a wall-mounted one.
As is the norm at Six Senses properties, shampoo and conditioner were in a reusable dispenser, though were high quality.
Then the toilet was just past the shower on the right.
All-in-all, the villa featured ~900 square feet of internal space, so was quite large. The whole resort also featured wifi, which was surprisingly high speed given the secluded location. While there were very brief outages, the speed was fast enough to make phone calls through Skype, etc.
I do think it’s worth talking for a moment about the Six Senses brand as such. They don’t offer typical luxury, in the sense that the hotels aren’t equipped with high end leather couches and all the latest tech gadgets. You won’t find Park Hyatt’s minimalist luxury of Four Seasons’ opulence at a Six Senses. Instead, Six Senses resorts are about blending into the environment, and attract a traveler who prefers nature over generic luxury.
I’ll be honest, in general Six Senses finishes aren’t my “style.” But in the right location I think they work very well. And I think this resort is an example of that. Given how incredibly unique the location is, a design like this works extremely well.
The villas at the Six Senses Zighy Bay almost feel a bit like an imaginary home you dream about as a child. They’re not generic luxury, and in general the brand isn’t for everyone. I think it works brilliantly in Zighy Bay, though, given the setting.
It’s also really cool that this hotel is within driving distance of Dubai, and the border crossing is easy. From many major US cities you’re a nonstop flight from this resort, which is rather convenient (even if it’s a really long flight).
Stay tuned for the next installment, where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on activities and dining at the hotel, and the overall value proposition.
What do you make of the Six Senses Zighy Bay design — is it your style?