Monday, 16 February 2015

Celebrating at Shangri La

With our anniversary so close to Valentine's day we are lucky that we can take advantage of the offers that inevitably float around that time. Being our first wedding anniversary we wanted to make it memorable so we chose the Valentine's package at the Shangri La resort.

The resort is about a 20 minute drive out of central Muscat, just far enough out of the city to feel like you are getting away. The resort is actually made up of three hotels, Al Waha, Al Bandar (where we stayed), and Al Husn. Each one more luxurious (read: expensive).
Shangri la Al Bandar hotel Oman

Shangri la Al Bandar room

Having not had a holiday since our honeymoon, that holiday vibe that the hotel can offer was much needed. Even though living in Muscat you essentially have the beach on your doorstep, we hardly take advantage of it, so I was happy for the opportunity to lounge on the beach, catch some rays, and take a dip in the sea, as well as, of course, spend some quality time with my husband.

The facilities at the hotel are fantastic, there are a lots of small of pools and even a lazy river. There are also a number of restaurants to choose from as being so far away from the rest of the city there isn't really the option to go out to eat.

Since the a la carte restaurants need a reservation we ate the buffet at Al Tanoor, which offered a mix of Arabic and Indian dishes, as well as a good selection of desserts. I generally find that dinner buffets are only ‘ok,' but the breakfast buffet available the next morning on the other hand was fantastic. I had three courses (fruit/yoghurt, pastries, and an English breakfast), very greedy I know, but it had to be done. I was so consumed with it all that I even forgot to take pictures.

The package included a late check-out, which meant we got to have a lie-in, enjoy breakfast, and make use of the pools without that rush to leave by midday. We also had 60OR spa credit as part of the deal and had an appointment just before check-out so that we left feeling completely pampered and relaxed, but I will talk about that in detail in another post.

Overall, we had a great first anniversary celebration, and even though it was only the one night, I still suffered from the holiday blues when I returned to work on Sunday.

I have one slight observation though. In my year living in Oman I’ve learnt that customer service leaves a lot to be desired; restaurants, take-aways, shops, all seem to struggle when they get busy. I didn’t really expect this from a global brand like Shangri La though. They were very busy at the weekend, if this was because of the Valentine’s deal, other promotions, or just packed with holidaymakers, I’m not sure. Either way they weren't really prepared to cater for everyone. With our Valentine’s package we expected a welcome "surprise" in our room, which we ended up having to ask for, taking away from the special element. As I mentioned the package also included 60OR credit to the spa. The prices at the spa are extortionate (the credit only covers the cost of one treatment, minus taxes and a service charge) but because we knew it was worked into our package we wanted to take advantage. When we arrived at the hotel though there were no appointments for the next two days, which made me wonder why they were selling packages they wouldn't be able to fulfil, and why they had told us to wait and book our treatments on arrival. We got lucky that there was a cancellation and we were able to take up the Spa offer, otherwise the resort wanted to give us to two day passes (worth 50OR) as compensation and I was told we would be "doing us a favour" if we opted to accept this and didn't push for something of at least equal value. I didn't really get the impression that they were bothered if we left as unhappy customers.

All that said, I would love to go back, because we really did have a great time and a very memorable anniversary. If you want to find out more about Shangri La, please click here