It’s still hot. And it’s still going to be hot for another month. At least. Weekends away, therefore, will require either an impractically long plane ride or entire days spent in the pool in a beige resort somewhere on the Gulf coast. While both may hold more appeal than another Friday in the mall/cinema/bed, a better idea is to explore the temperate, sub-tropical climate of Salalah, Oman, a mere 90 minutes away from the UAE’s principal airports.
Between July and late September, Oman’s Dhofar region, of which Salalah is the capital, is brushed with the unique local monsoon known as Al Khareef. Temperatures rarely rise above 27 degree Celsius, the plentiful hills are shrouded in dense green vegetation and the whole area is a haven of wildlife – and it attracts visitors from across the Arabian Peninsula who are keen to escape the twin perils of arctic air-conditioning and all-consuming humidity.
The recently opened five-star SalalahRotana Resort, built around a network of waterways and just a short stroll from Salalah Beach, is the ideal launchpad for exploring the region. Set amid banana and palm plantations, it offers 400 well-upholstered rooms and suites, all of which have a view of water – whether the Arabian Sea or the lagoons and water features that intersperse the expansive property.
There are the usual five-star facilities on offer, including two tennis courts, a number of swimming pools, well-stocked gym and the brand’s own Zen the spa. But it’s what is in the vicinity that really appeals, whether the wild, unspoilt beaches of Salalahor Mughsayl, the rugged coastline of crags and blowholes or the many hiking trails through the Dhofar mountain range, which includes several spectacular seasonal waterfalls in WadiDharbat.
Then there’s the town itself, which was once the centre of the global frankincense trade, and it now enjoys UNESCO World Heritage Status. The ruins of Sumhuram overlooking nearby KhorRouriinclude a house that is reputed to have belonged to the Queen of Sheba. You can still buy frankincense, the crystallised resin collected from trees in the hills above the town, in Salalah’ssouq.
In all honesty, though, for three days, it’s nice to be able to sit outside and wonder whether you should pop back inside for your jumper.
Salalah Rotana Resort is offering special rates until September 15. Rooms begin from Dhs530++ with complimentary breakfast and Wi-Fi and 20 percent discount on all services during the stay, including all food and beverage, spa treatments and minibar.