Six Senses Zighy Bay Near+Far rating: 9/10
Why book Six Senses Zighy Bay
Six Senses Zighy Bay is arguably one of the most extraordinary, timeless, and unique properties in the entire Middle East. Located in the Musandam – a wild enclave on the tip of the United Arab Emirates, though formally part of Oman – its natural beauty is outstanding. Driving to the hotel is something no one forgets, ascending a (slightly terrifying) vertiginous cliff and then descending a winding mountain road to the resort. People come from all over the world to switch off in this rugged yet luxurious take on a traditional Omani village. The 82 stone villas, with their dusty walls and flickering lamps, are set among pomegranate trees and date palms, and all come with a private sandy garden and cerulean plunge pool. There’s nothing to do, but relax, take in the sea, hike, dine, and immersive yourself in nature, or even educate and better yourself with a visit to the sustainability centre or Six Senses Dibba Farm, where an impressive farm-to-fork operation is in action. A beautiful on-site boutique experience centre keeps you entertained, though it’s easy to spend every day looking at the mountains and sparkling Arabian Gulf.
The Musandam’s majestic fjords and rugged mountain ranges make it a hotspot for more rough-loving adventure travellers, so it’s almost off-piste that the area is home to one of the exclusive hotels in Oman. Descending the winding mountain road to Zighy Bay, a secluded cove sandwiched between the mountain and crashing sea in Musandam, is nothing short of breathtaking. You can drive, but also paraglide or arrive by speedboat. Once in the bay, it’s difficult to leave, but there’s plenty to do if you do. Day trips to nearby Dibba are popular – where the Six Senses Farm is – and the area is popular for hiking and diving. The hotel is just a two-hour drive from Dubai International Airport and accessed via an easy and approachable border crossing, where the hotel team look after all the paperwork and border passes and the border staff are charming and well-versed.
Rooms and suites: 8/10
Six Senses Zighy Bay’s 82 private villas line shaded sandy lanes and hide behind palm trees, designed to resemble a traditional Omani village – but of course, with a five-star Six Senses sprinkle of magic. Guests stay in stone villas dotted adjacent to, or directly backing onto, the beachfront, marked by date palms, pomegranate trees, toppled and upright urns and ceramic pots for feet washing. All villas have a private outdoor terrace, sandy garden space and plunge pool – the perfect temperature for all-day dips. Beach villas are the most spectacular, as they have rustic wooden gates that open right onto the thick golden sands and crashing waves, but all villas are similar once inside.
Ceilings are low, lighting is subdued, and interiors are earthy and natural – stone, wood, concrete, and touches like unbleached linen bed sheets and wooden amenities. Rooms come with a soaking tub, an indoor and outdoor shower, and a real sense of being connected with nature and the locale (but with all the luxury and modern amenities like TV, air-conditioning, mini-bar, pillow and scent menus). Families can book into the spacious, multi-storey, multi-bedroom villas tucked away at the end of the beach which offer unrivalled privacy. All villas come with a personal villa attendant and bicycles to easily traverse the property.
Food and drink: 9/10
Six Senses Zighy Bay’s food and beverage programme is exceptional, from the produce quality to the inventiveness of each dish. This is what the higher price point, essentially, is paying for. Food is mostly organic, sustainable, and locally sourced where possible, and plenty is grown and produced at the nearby Six Senses farm. There’s quite literally something for everyone – Summer House serving international fare indoors, on the terrace or by the main pool, Zighy Bar serving modern, local and organic mocktails and cocktails (with almost all-night long happy hour) and a casual beach-side bar shack. Then there’s Spice Market, the setting for one of the best breakfasts in the region and delicious Middle Eastern and Omani menus. Breakfast superlative – Arabic stations, a creative delicious a la carte menu, and counters laden with Six Senses’ own homemade cheese, charcuterie, bread, fruit, pastries and other delights. Health-conscious and those with allergies will delight in dairy-free milk, yoghurts and pots, build your own booster shots and the famous’ rocket fuel’ shot – the ultimate healthy start to your day.
Elsewhere, Shua Shack is a beachfront outlet offering Bedouin experiences by night and laid-back dining by day, and a wine cellar where dinners can be organised. For a truly unique experience, ascend to Senses on the Edge – the hotel’s star restaurant perched on the edge of a mountain serving Japanese cuisine and views of the entire bay. This is a hotel that’s always reinventing and enhancing its customer experience, thanks to its army of loyal guests who return year after year, and new initiatives include an in-villa cocktail evening, where a professional bartender complete with a fully-stocked bar pops up to make, and teach, you your favourite cocktails by your own private poolside.
Spa and facilities: 9/10
Six Senses is a brand known worldwide for its impeccable wellness programmes, and this is truly embodied in Six Senses Zighy Bay. The spa sits atop the resort and beach, shrouded by lime bushes and date palms, and is an immersive, healing space of Omani and Arabian therapies. Local healing traditions are embraced, and there are two Arabic-style hammams, an ice cave, a sauna, steam room, and relaxation spots with pots of almonds and dried fruit to snack on. Wellness consultations are popular, and visiting practitioners are regular, and on our visit, we enjoy Tibetan sound healing and Ayurveda. The spa is also home to a small but well-equipped gym and offers programmes like outdoor yoga and fitness sessions.
While all villas come with pools, a large lake-like main swimming pool is right on the beach, and a separate saltwater pool, tennis courts, and a children’s club. Watersports, parasailing, mountain biking, village treks, off-road adventures, snorkelling and diving and excursions on the hotel’s own Dhahab dhow boat are also all possible – booked at the hotel’s on-site experience centre.
Peaceful, relaxed, elevated and restorative. The Six Senses Zighy Bay crowd is made up largely of families and well-heeled or mature couples who keep to themselves while remaining friendly. Service is above and beyond, from the personal villa butlers – available at the Whatsapp message – to the passionate food and beverages teams and spa staff, all of which embody and embrace the Six Senses ethos and what the property is doing.
Six Senses Zighy Bay is a property which grabs your heart and doesn’t let go. The setting is so beautiful it sparks deep emotion, the rooms are luxurious yet rustic and connect you with nature, and the food is exquisite, creative, sustainable and largely healthy, leaving you feeling light and fresh on check out. The rustic element isn’t for everyone, but for those who it is for, it’s absolutely perfect in every way. What’s especially notable is the hotel’s sustainability programme, which includes the farm, but also has an on-site recycling, desalination and upcycling centre – where bottles and waste are turned into charming gifts and items like cheese platters and pendants.