I first came to Musandam a whole 13 years ago, and had really forgotten how breathtakingly spectacular the landscape is!
But after having had it on our bucket list with the kids for quite some time, we were determined to start off the year with travel adventures and get ticking things off the list at a faster pace than we have recently. So there: second weekend in January it was, nicely timed with our daughter’s ‘living thing of the week’ at nursery (dolphins) and our son’s visit to Dubai Aquarium with his school class.
Little did we know, though, that a wind storm was brewing and as you do in the UAE, we did not check the weather forecast! And so, a little after 3 hours later, when we arrived at our hotel, we were advised that no boats had gone out to sea that day and it was highly unlikely they would the following day due to yet more high speed winds.
Fortunately the hotel is cute enough and the staff were so lovely that the kids forgot about their disappointment very quickly! Our son was invited behind the reception desk and pretend he was one of the staff (which, of course, exhotelier mummy was very proud of), and our daughter received non-stop attention from all the staff involved.
Atana is a local Omani hotel brand with two properties in Khasab embodying the Omani heritage and hospitality: Atana Khasab and Atana Musandam. The difference between the two is that the first one is older, comprises of one building and enjoys liquor license, whereas the latter is only 3 years old, has a townhouse style layout and has no liquor license. Only 5 minutes away from eachother, both are located next door to the Khasab port where the dhow cruises for dolphin watching depart from.
We stayed at the newer property and the things that we particularly loved were the rustic Omani design throughout the hotel, the huge inter-connecting rooms that are perfect for families, the gardens where olive trees mingle with banana trees (with bananas hanging off them), and (oh!) you can park your car right outside your room. And last but definitely not least, and the absolute best in the eyes of the kids (and their parents who live by the ‘Happy Kids Happy Family’ motto), the kids pool with a spiral slide that our eldest climbed up and descended non-stop for the entirety of an hour despite the cool temperature of the Gulf winter accentuated by the wind. The pool is located within the fenced off and self-contained kids area which also included a fabulous kids club and a playground on sand which was very popular too with other ‘Dubai kids’.
If you know me, you will also know that food is high in my priority list, and the Khasab Musandam did not disappoint. The hotel’s executive chef has worked in the likes of Fairmont, Kempinski, Jumeirah and Ritz Carlton in different parts of the world, which shows in his dishes. At dinner, we were treated to Omani traditional dishes that were nothing short of delicious, while the kids munched on an A-MA-ZING pizza.
Watch this space for part 2, when we go back to watch the dolphins we could not do the first time around! Having said that, the dramatic landscape of rugged fjords that surrounds you during the drive along the water from the border in Ras Al Khaimah, dotted with tiny fishing villages, made the trip well worth it, and that alone is a good enough reason to make Musandam a weekend getaway.
Need to know:
- Musandam, although an enclave, is very much Oman and so, a valid passport is needed to cross the Dara/Bukha border
- Allow about one hour to go through the UAE and Omani border, to be on the safe side. You might be lucky and not have to queue, but we had 1-2 families in front of us each time.
- Currently the cost of entry visa into Oman is OR 5 or AED 50 per person, and credit cards are accepted
- Check the weather forecast a couple of days before your trip … lol …
- Great opportunity for your city children to see goats in the flesh (!)
- Smile! It is Oman, and locals will definitely smile at you