By Michelle Russell
This story originally appeared in the March/April 2019 issue of Elite Traveler.
Your kids aren’t always going to want to join you on vacation. But throw in some camels, quad bikes, a spa and great food, and you might just keep them with you for that precious extra year. To help persuade those discerning teenagers, Dunes by Al Nahda created a family-friendly adventure itinerary just for Elite Traveler readers.
From Muscat International Airport, you are whisked off by 4×4 to Dunes by Al Nahda, a tented luxury resort and spa in the Al Bathina South region of the Sultanate of Oman. Leave the bustle of the city behind for Dunes, overlooked by the majestic Al-Hajar Mountain Range. To fully experience the surrounding dunes, jump on a quad bike for a high-octane adventure. The dedicated quad bike guide will gently ease you into this popular pastime, gauging your adrenaline levels and giving you and the kids expert advice. Climb up virtually vertical sand dunes to marvel at the stunning views from the top before whizzing down the other side.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Fleur Restaurant and Bar while soaking up the beauty of the Omani panorama: The restaurant’s open-sided layout offers far-reaching views of the dunes, which change every hour of the day from sunup to sundown. Swapping yesterday’s four wheels for four legs, a visit to the local camel farm is a must. Travel at a more sedate and gentle pace as the rhythmic stride and stature of these incredible desert creatures provides a different view of the landscape. For those who want to live life in the fast(er!) sand-lane, you can discover how racing camels are trained before watching a race.
For some quality pampering time, the unique, immersive sand bath at Uru Spa is an adventure in itself. Climb into the deep baths filled with sand sourced from the nearby dunes, and be covered top to toe to feel the healing properties of the sand (and soothe any aches from yesterday’s camel ride). A gentle mask is applied to your face and essential oils are added to the sand bath to increase the benefits. The bath is then followed by a massage under a huge umbrella, with a gentle cooling breeze as the expert therapists work their magic in the open-air spa. In the afternoon, meet with the chef, who will introduce you to shuwa, the Omani speciality in which meat is marinated in oils and spices, then wrapped in palm leaves and cooked in a fire pit. The incredibly tender meat is served with rice and an aromatic Omani tomato sauce — simply delicious.
A quad bike will bring you to the top of the sand dunes to start the day right, with a delicious family breakfast of freshly baked pastries surrounded by stunning views. A 4×4 awaits to take you from the heart of the desert to the hustle and bustle of Muscat. A stop at the souk shouldn’t be missed. Here, bargaining with the traders is part of the experience to purchase spices, silver and vibrant pashminas, before heading back to the airport.