Our weekend stay at Alila Jabal Akhdar
In August, my husband and I took a road trip to Oman from Abu Dhabi, UAE to stay at the ultra luxurious and stunning resort, Alila Jabal Akhdar. This is an incredible place to be for some R&R or an adventurous getaway during the summer. It is ACTUALLY 15 degrees cooler up there, surrounded by nothing but spectacular mountains.
The nightly rate start at 2000 (500 USD per night) but I was provided this stay complimentary from an Instagram contest.
(This post was not a requirement or expectation, all opinions in this post are of my own)
Border – Abu Dhabi & Oman
We decided to drive to the resort from Abu Dhabi City. The total trip took close to 7 hours with 1 hour break for lunch at an ADNOC station and 1 hour at the customs/border control. The road to Oman was really nice and easy to drive. Just a main highway through Al Ain to the border of Oman. We used the Mezyad UAE Border Post. Make sure you got to the Immigration Post (will need to get an exit stamp and pay an exit fee of 30dhs pp). Proceed to Oman Check Post to get Oman Insurance ( it is around 50-100 dhs per car). Go to the Visa Counter to get an Oman Visa (it is 15 days tourist visa for 50 dhs pp).
The drive to the resort was incredibly smooth. Nice paved roads, amazing scenery – lots of desert and mountains. We passed by herds of sheeps, goats and camels. Once we arrived at Jabal Akhdar, we stopped by at a nearby village. The people of Oman are so nice and friendly. There are vendors at the side of the road selling fruit and rose water sprays.
Our trip to Oman was one of the most adventurous in the books. There is a small moment in everyday where I doubted if I would live! Just the drive up and down the mountain had our hearts racing. The emergency exit ramps (for cars with brakes burnt/cut) at the side of every turn made me very anxious. Our engine was roaring and struggling to get up the super steep parts. Not to mention there were no guarded rails on the roads to prevent a car from slipping off down 2000m off the gorge. 😱 Praise and thanks to God for our safety on all the adventures.
The Drive up Jabal Akhdar
In order to drive up the Jabal Akhdar mountain, a 4×4 or AWD vehicle is mandatory due to the steep and curvy roads. We purposely rented a vehicle for this journey in which we had to pay 400 dhs extra to get the NOC letter to allow us to drive to Oman. We rented from Fast Cars which was incredible helpful and knowledgeable about rentals to Oman. There is pit stop at the bottom of the mountain that is a mandatory police check. The Omani police stopped our vehicle and checked it to ensure it was a 4×4 or AWD. We saw more than dozens of sedans either abandoned or parked at the bottom of the mountain. There are services in which you can rent or call a truck to drive you up the mountain but I am unsure of the price. As we started driving up, we were quite worried with our car. As we rented an AWD 2.0 engine it was very slow and revving really hard to get up the steep mountain. A 4×4 is recommended for this venture. The roads were curvy and many of the areas did not have any border fences. It took it more than 1 hour to get up to the resort which was 2000 m above sea level. There were only a few cars that we saw along the way. I find the way down the mountain is extremely scary as there are emergency exit ramps at every turn. These ramps are there in the cases where the brakes no longer work and will hopefully slow the car down from the gravel and barrels at the end of the ramp. The brakes were constantly working and i was fearful ours would burn out during the 1+ hour drive down the mountain. I think a stop along the way is suggested to let the car brakes cool down.
We arrived at the resort safely and was looking forward to some rest and relaxation. Our check-in was super smooth and they let us check in an hour earlier than our regular expected time. The staff was super friendly and I still remember Maya from the counter. The resort was a beautiful boutique hotel that was sitting at the top of the mountain. We were surrounded by nature only and the stunning mountains.
There was not many facilities at this resort. We found it to be a bit small and possibly lack facilities for anything longer than a 2 night stay. There was of course their infamous infinity pool. We spent a few hours there. They had a smaller indoor pool and a work-out gym. They had spa facilities too that offered massages and beauty services. We visited their Rose Lounge and Juniper Restaurant daily. They had a large lobby which we played a few card games in and even visited their PLAY room which we used their playstation, xbox and air hockey table.
We were in a Mountain View Suite for the 2-nights that we were there. The gorgeous suite had a huge washroom, separate bath, separate toilet, a large king size room, ample closet space, living area with a study table and a gorgeous large balcony with the mountains calling us every morning.
On our first full day we decided to take the discovery hike ourselves. There are maps available at the counter or in our case, they had emailed us a brochure of list of excursions available at the resort. This ranged from Cave visits to mountain Climbing. We were debating whether to do the Cave and Mountain Climb, but it was rated the most difficult and also very costly. ($100-200 USD per person for 3 hours). Possibly, next time we may opt for this. The self-guided hike we did ourselves turned into quite an adventure. We followed the marked paths for us but along the way there were a few paths where it could had gone 2 ways. The brochure said it was a 3 hour hike but it took us more than 5 hours to complete. Possibly the brochure did not include the hiking time back (and they had a car hire for the way back).
Our second day, we opted to take out their bikes to explore another part of the mountain. Bikes were free for guests to use which was an awesome perk. Some of the bicycles were not well maintained tho so be sure to check your bike before you head out with it. Biking seemed like a very straining activity as the roads were super steep. At some parts it was fun & fast to go down the mountain but we suffered the consequence while going back up the mountain during our return. I was walking my bike for most parts of the trails. For these day-trips out, we hardly ever saw anyone else so be sure to carry your phone and the resort’s number in case of emergencies.
There was only one restaurant at the resort which was Juniper Restaurant. Although they lack restaurant variety, the food here was so good! The package at this hotel includes dinner and breakfast with the rooms. Every night and morning we were pampered with an amazing feast. For their evening service, they include an option for a set Omani menu or 3 course a la carte international menu. We tried the Omani menu one night and was glad we did to try out the different flavors. The other night I opted for the a la carte in which they gave us so much food, and an amazing steak. Their breakfasts were meant for kings. I enjoyed ordering from their a la carte (unlimited style). I really love how they always put fresh pomegranates on everything. They also have a buffet bar available for their cold foods in the morning. However, be advised drinks during dinner service are added cost (but you can opt for local water for free).
This was my first experience staying with Alila hotels, and I have to say this has been such a lovely and luxurious stay. I’d love to stay at any of their properties again in the future.