Six Senses Zighy Bay – Impressions

First Impressions are Everything. Six Senses Zighy Bay is located on Oman’s northern Musandam Peninsula, a scenic 120-minute car Journey through an other-worldly landscape from Dubai. Unlike anywhere else, the Omani village inspired resort is set between sand colored craggy mountains on one side and a long sandy beach on the other, remote yet accessible.

Six Senses Zighy Bay- my ocean front suite with plunge pool

At the deserted border crossing into Musandam, I was somewhat apprehensive, my driver held my passport, he exited the car and mentioned, don’t speak unless the guard questions you. I considered my geography. On the sandy roadside ahead, a division of armed soldiers sat on tanks under the cover of a full military camouflage net. I was in good hands with the Six Senses driver. Trusting our partners is implicit in our Journeys, I frequently travel alone and sometimes in my enthusiasm for adventure, I may not focus on all the ramifications of my Journey! As an example: a blond woman traveling alone, many men in ‘outlying areas’ are stunned I am not traveling with a group or a family. Men in Muslim countries seem particularly emboldened to question my travel status. I’ve enjoyed many amusing encounters and offers…my enormous black sunglasses belie the fact that I could probably be the mom to some of these inquiring locals! And I will talk to practically everyone I meet along the way – there is always a story lurking. However, I am rarely ‘alone’ my guides and drivers are my trusted companions, I still remain in touch with some guides and drivers who have accompanied me in remote locations. Of course, our local teams are in place for our clients, but my travel is a little more free form and I need to assure clients, yes you will be safe here.

Six Senses Zighy Bay is very secluded, near fishing villages on a section of land that juts into the Strait of Hormuz in between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The steep winding road through jagged fiords opens to the sparkling sapphire Gulf of Oman. A white crescent beach, thousands of date-palm trees, and a stone village sit on the edge of the sea.

Multiple hotel arrival options: speed boat, 4×4 or paraglider. The most exhilarating arrival is as a passenger with their paragliding professional. Launch from Zighy Mountain soar through the jagged mountain range from 1000 feet upwards and enjoy the breathtaking views before making a soft landing on the white sandy beach.

I’ve always wanted to soar, and I’ve always thought of myself as fearless…the winds were up on arrival, preventing the ultra-exotic para-glide cliff jump. Jad Frem took me to the spectacular restaurant at the top of Zighy Mountain, we stood on the cliff edge, my heart stopped, and I knew I would never have jumped from this mountain top, I was quietly relieved.

Jad instead surprised me with a breakfast hang gliding experience. I found it rather terrifying – sadly, I can no longer say I am fearless…the soaring experience through the jagged Hajar Mountains lodged my heart in my throat for 20 solid minutes. We did glide through a wispy white cloud; a very pleasant experience, warm and moist, a momentary distraction from my terror! Our trusted hotel partner, Jad, wasn’t going to let a little wind mar my visit. We rely on our teams to pivot and please our clients on their Journeys.

I loved my escape to Six Senses Zighy Bay, it’s a restful authentic experience in the midst of small local villages. Six Senses has fashioned a resort laid out like a traditional Omani village. Low buildings of natural stone with jareed (date-palm stick) roofs and generous pool terraces. Sandy paths, lined with fig and pomegranate trees connect the villas. My pool and Villa opened to the sea. Mini tree climbing goats wander the property, it’s truly a restful zone of tranquility. Activities abound if you must: hiking goat paths, paragliding from surrounding cliffs, canyoning in a rocky wadi. You can also cruise the seas on the Dhahab, a 90-foot restored dhow. Oh, and more delicious date varieties than I’ve ever tasted!

Jad wanting me to see more of Oman, arranged my departure in a seaplane back to Dubai. Encouraging me to depart in my shorts, I fearful and respectful of the modest culture was very uncomfortable travelling with my legs exposed – in Muslim culture and even in the heat, I cover up!

Driver stacked three weeks of baggage into the black SUV, another adventure ensued, the seaplane was waiting on a beach in a few inches of water. What a visual contrast, a well worn wooden fishing boat, a turbaned man in long white robes and my seaplane. The rare landing attracted a cluster of barefoot ancient grizzled men and shrieking little boys. I’m sure they expected Madonna to emerge from the SUV, their disappointment was not evident; they offered to schlepp my enormous bags across the sand into the seaplane and waved farewell.

First Impressions bestow lasting memories. Jad assured I wouldn’t miss the exotic arrival and even made the return an adventure not to be forgotten. Another ‘story’ for my journals, another memory to savor. I had completely forgotten my border apprehension, I’ll never forget the grizzled old man waving and welcoming me at the beach. I hope he also treasures a memory of the day a seaplane landed on his village shore.

Highly recommend Six Senses Zighy Bay, add a beach visit when passing through the UAE or Dubai. Some moments are planned, some unexpected, isn’t that why we travel?

A colorful look at Oman.

And She Flew Like a Seabird – 3

My daring feats of flight been noted and recounted in a mix of blog posts, my final air tale took place in a sensational seaplane, generously offered by Seawings in Dubai. Sand and City, love the byline!

Jad Frem, who terrorized… me in the hang glider at Six Senses Oman, was absolutely gleeful when he shared I could make my return to Dubai in a seaplane. Small planes don’t frighten me; strafing a savanna landing strip to warn a herd of elephants or giraffes is beyond exciting, I like the idea of metal surrounding my body.Seaplane – Why, yes indeed, I would love to fly in a seaplane! Plus this is a more interesting mode of travel from Oman to Dubai. Oman was once a center for the Middle Eastern spice trade it is also known for its beautiful coastlines and old world charming architecture. Blue water, sandy beaches and oceans of desert punctuated by Frankincense trees are better enjoyed from the air in the luxurious amphibian seaplane. Every seat is a window seat offering unparalleled vistas of the beaches and countryside.

Seawings, the only luxury seaplane tour operator within the Arabian Peninsula is expanding routes to a few signature properties, including Oman Six Senses.

Driver had instructions to turn toward the beach at the mosque in Fujairah Al Dana. Continue to the end of the road and we would see the plane, which lands on the sandy shore. Still in my shorts from my morning para-glide, I am a bit uncomfortable being so uncovered in this chaste country; everyone assures me I will need bare feet to board through the seawater, so no worries. I’ve been completely covered with long sleeves and slacks in the desert heat, but courtesy and respect mean more to me than suffering in my attire.At the mentioned mosque, we make a left and reach the beach – strewn with fishing boats and many local men hovering about curious to see this beast in the water! A grizzled bearded man in a long white robed is animated in his waving at me in the car; imagine their curiosity as a large SUV with dark windows arrives at the fishing beach, I felt like a celebrity – and slightly amused to think of their imminent disappointment when an anonymous blonde woman in shorts alights from the car – not looking too glamorous this morning!As also previously mentioned, I don’t travel light – this 21 day trip required business attire in high temps, gorilla trekking garb, safari clothing, boots, poles etc…which translates to a couple of very large and increasingly heavy bags as I also shopped my way through four countries! The fishermen had been recruited to carry my bags to the plane; as I was the only passenger, the bag weight didn’t matter – strapped into the seats like passengers. The robed man continued to make friendly gestures, lacking a common language, I smiled and said hello multiple times.

Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman

Pilot let me know it had been very windy and it might be rough, will I be OK? Absolutely, I survived hang gliding! An exciting water takeoff from the beach on-board the spacious Cessna Caravan Amphibian Seaplane, we rose quickly over the turquoise sea and turned toward the sand dunes. These were the dunes of National Geographic photographs, the wavering lines of undulating white sand that seemed to stretch for miles.

The beauty of these planes is the advantage of flying fairly low for spectacular sight seeing, especially as we approached Dubai. Not only does Seawings offer transport between resorts, they are the preeminent flight firm offering picturesque sight seeing. We circled around the city and approached the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club enjoying majestic views of Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa, The World Islands and The Palm Jumeirah. A simple splash down in to the Creek and I alighted at the pier. Sadly, no white robed man to greet me, back to civilization!Seawings Amphibious Planes to and from Oman Six Senses – or tour the skies above the worlds highest buildings. Highly recommend!