Guest post and photos by Esme Taylor

Family Hotel Review: Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa

 

Why you’ll love the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa

Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah is actually made up of three hotels – Al Waha (specifically for children), Al Bandar (best for older children and adults) and Al Husn (much more serene).  Al Waha is definitely the place to be with children – all the fun happens here! We visited with two young children plus grandparents and everyone was treated like royalty.

The hotel is stunning; frankincense wafts heavily around the stunning marble lobby with gilded ceilings, ice-cold mineral water is thrust at you at every opportunity and there’s something about the desert sun that does wonders for the human body. The Shangri-La Muscat makes it very easy to have blissful fun with your family.

All the food is divine, the seafood in particular is spectacular and the underwater world on your doorstep is insanely beautiful. We enjoyed snorkelling off the beach while the smalls played metres away on the golden sands under the watchful eye of the lifeguards. Another big plus point was the unlimited free transportation that made visiting the Sultans’ yacht, palaces and souks easy in the desert heat.

 

Why the kids will love the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa

Our kids had a truly fantastic time at the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah. Highlights for our two included the camels that arrived daily at 3.30pm on the hotel’s private beach for riding and collecting shells on the beach.

The hotel boasts several wonderful swimming pools, a lazy river, a pirate ship and water fountains as well as a kids club where henna tattoos and a host of craft activities  are offered away from the sun. We didn’t leave the children here, since the staff’s English wasn’t brilliant, but you can do and it is complimentary.

Shuttle buggies are at your disposal to transport kids to an enormous, well staffed and air conditioned soft play zone or to the beach adjacent to the dive school where the children are whisked away to spot dolphins and turtles. In room dining is excellent value and delicious if they’ve overdone it(!)

 

Hotel Details

Rooms:

Al Waha comprises 262 rooms divided into the following categories:

  • 143 superior (32m2)
  • 58 superior sea view (32m2)
  • 8 executive sea view (45m2)
  • 40 family rooms (interconnecting superior rooms – 64m2)
  • 12 one-bedroom suites (68m2)
  • 1 speciality suite (102m2)

All rooms come with full bathrooms with a separate shower, complimentary WiFi, child sized robes and slippers, complimentary dates, fruit and mineral water.

Comfortable, child friendly balconies overlook the Sea of Oman or beautifully maintained gardens.

Best Rooms For Families: The Family Rooms (interconnecting superior rooms) are perfect for larger families, with one huge king bed and two very large singles; we slept three adults and two children very, very comfortably. If you don’t want to pay for two rooms then you can easily squeeze an extra child into the enormous king beds. One extra single bed is provided free of charge.

 

Food: 

Epicurean needs are well and truly met with *gasp* 21 places to eat.

At Al Waha, Samba is the International buffet and where breakfast is served (although you can take breakfast at Al Bandar, for a change).

There is also the Surf Café for light meals and snacks, Bait Al Bahr for exquisite seafood and Assira Pool Bar and Al Waha Lounge for snacks.

Al Bandar is host to Al Tanoor for Middle Eastern, Capri Court for Italian, Tapas and Sablah for tapas, a coffee house and several places for beach / poolside snacks.

At Al Husn, Sultanah is International, Shahrazad, Moroccan and at the souk complex is Fairouz for Lebanese, Asia for, well, Asian and the Zafran Courtyard for Arabic snacks.

For Kids: All restaurants have a children’s menu.  Excellent in-room dining is available 24 hours and is good value.

 

Activities: 

Activities include: Several swimming pools, spinning and stretch classes, beach volleyball, health club with cardio and weight studios, 4 lighted tennis courts, sauna, steam and Jacuzzi, spa with 12 treatment villas, live music, dive centre, complimentary excursions, water skiing, paddle boarding and kayaking. For kids activities include fish feeding, swimming pools, pirate ship, children’s club, snorkelling, soft play zone, movies, game zone, fountains, lazy river, camel rides, dolphin watching, turtle spotting, diving (8+).

 

Facilities: 

A/C, babysitting available for an additional charge, car seats in hotel transport, common rooms, handful of baby cots available, doctor on call, 1 extra bed permitted in each room, interconnecting rooms, dedicated kids’ club, dedicated kids’ dining facilities, dedicated kids’ pool, laundry, pushchair-friendly, shop, spa, swimming pool, travel desk, wheelchair access, WiFi (complimentary and available throughout the property).

 

Travel Information 

When to go: 

Muscat is very hot in the months of May, June, July and August and probably best avoided with small children. Peak season is December and January – go before the school’s break up and you’ll have the place to yourselves.

Location & Travel: 

The closest airport is Muscat Seeb officially 45 minutes away, but we’re sure it was only half an hour(!) Prices are fixed and cost OMR15 (take a ticket at the little booth on the right as you exit the airport). All visitors except GCC passport holders require a visa on arrival, which costs OMR20, or OMR5 if you’re staying for less than 10 days. Driving is possible from the UAE (approximately 7 hours from Dubai).

 

Top Tips! 

1. Grab a face mask and flippers from the beach hut and check out the local marine life off the beach.
2. Stay long enough to visit a nearby wadi.
3. Use the free shuttle service to the mosque and souks – or just ask to be dropped anywhere en route!

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Travelling with kids just got more exciting.

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