The back story
One of a number of luxe European hotel group Kempinski’s openings in the Middle East, Oman’s buzziest launch for a while, the Kempinski Al Mouj is a sparkly, souped-up, Starship Enterprise-sized stayover in an area that’s been dubbed “New Muscat”.
Around 15 minutes from the airport, Al Mouj (The Wave) is a new-ish, chi-chi neighbourhood with a sizeable marina and 6km of remote beachfront on the Gulf of Oman.
Part-business hub, part-beach hotel, it’s a work-hard, play-hard crowd of suited expense accounts, spendy weekenders and longer-stay families making use of the serious number of kid-friendly things to do here. Cosmic Bowling, anyone?
Designed by Woods Bagot, the brilliant-white, neo-palatial lobby is pretty special (inside and out). So is the giant infinity pool that extends onto the beach. But it’s the sheer scale of the place that wins it: 10 restaurants, a nearby golf course, luxe spa – it’s more fly-to-flop city-beach resort than hotel. And, happily, one where you’re not compromised on location: Muscat’s best touristy bits are still only a short drive away.
The food is definitely not an afterthought: eating in feels like eating out (as it should, but too often doesn’t, at least in the big hotel chains). Stand-out restaurants include Thai street-food specialist Soi Soi, Bukhara for North Indian-style curry and the dependable cocktails at Zale Beach Club. The breakfast buffet tees you up for the day quite nicely, too.
Clearly, the architects had some budget to play with and it shows (in a good way): not just the epic main entrance building but the well-thought-out rooms and amenities designed with local sensitivities in mind (a female-only workout room, for example). We’ll be back.