For centuries sea turtles have been making their way onto beaches throughout Oman to lay their eggs, and their nesting has now become so popular with sightseers that the Omani Government has appointed turtle rangers to make sure that these rare creatures experience minimum disruption, especially during their annual pilgrimage.
At Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa in Muscat, the two species that come ashore are the rare green turtle and the hawksbill turtle. These are given individual but non-intrusive attention by Mohammed Al Hasani, the resort’s dedicated turtle ranger, who is always happy to speak to guests wanting information about them.
Although unaware of his presence, the nesting turtles are nurtured during their time ashore and temporary barriers are erected to protect their nests from visitors walking on the beach. The barriers remain in place until the eggs hatch. The beaches at the resort remain unlit at night and even the exterior lights of the hotel are designed so that the turtles are not put off from coming ashore, something that has proven to be extremely effective, according to the hotel staff. In the 2006 turtle season (January to August) the resort’s beaches were visited by 106 turtles that laid 10,600 eggs.
Al Hasani encourages guests to watch the egg-laying from non-intrusive positions. He is very knowledgeable and keen to educate turtle watchers, and has even been known to stand watch over the hatchlings as they make their way down the beach to make sure that they are not killed by crabs or other predators. It is to the resort’s beaches that these hatchlings will return to lay their eggs when they are fully grown, navigating their way by the stars.
Trips to see dolphins and turtles in the sea a short distance from the resort’s dive centre are organised by Euro-Divers Oman and are available three times daily, departing in the mornings only (at 6.30am, 8:00am and 10:30am). The trips last two hours and include an educational session on species, behaviour, habitats, safety and conservation.
Shangri-La’s exclusive castle
Al Husn is the most luxurious of the three hotels within the Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa in Muscat. Inspired by the historic architecture of Omani forts, Al Husn is an exclusive retreat offering highly personalised service for guests demanding a level of attention that surpasses a five-star hotel. Situated on a headland, Al Husn provides spectacular views of the coastline and resort.
The name Al Husn means “The Fort” or “The Castle” and the hotel design reflects a fusion of Moorish architecture in the style of the Alhambra, emphasising the Portuguese influence on architecture in Oman. Typical to the traditional forts of Oman, the central courtyard has been deliberately left empty with the exception of water features and palm trees.
All 180 of the spacious deluxe guestrooms and suites are sea-facing and include a balcony or terrace. The distinctive bathrooms are designed with sliding glass panels so that guests have views of the sea while luxuriating in the bath. There is a dedicated private gymnasium offering state-of-the-art equipment, a private beach and beach bar, infinity pool, a library, and a separate early check-in / late check-out lounge.
All suites provide a butler service and in-room check-in, complimentary I-Pod rental with personalised music selection and complimentary selected beverages from their in-room mini-bar.
Food and beverage options include the Shahrazad Moroccan restaurant, the silver cigar lounge, Mahhara private beach bar and Al Muheet pool bar and restaurant. The Sultanah restaurant which serves international cuisine and is named after the first Omani ship to sail to America, is designed to resemble a ship on the dockside. An attractive water feature outside this restaurant creates the impression of being at sea.
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