She makes a beautiful silhouette my little girl as she runs from one end of the cavernous balcony to the other while behind her the sun creeps lower in the sky, darkening the mountains in the distance.
The burnt orange sky gives the scene before me a soft focus, aided occasionally by the linen curtains, which line the four-poster day bed I watch from, as they flutter across my line of sight in slow motion, a gentle cool breeze inspiring their play.
A peel of laughter from her captures my attention again, my eyes crinkle at the edges as my smile widens at her happiness.
My vision flicks away to the skyline behind her, the mountains now almost indistinguishable from each other save the lines where they meet. There’s still a touch of blue left in the sky, but that doesn’t stop the most enthusiastic of stars piercing through.
I breathe deeply, the fresh evening air up here is like a glass of cold water, and watch her play, the soft thumping of her small feet and her giggles are the only sounds that punctuate the deep quiet that envelopes this haven at the top of world.
She’s only small, realistically she won’t remember this night where she played in the mountains as her parents looked fondly on, but I will, it’s already an indelible memory and years from now I’ll look back on these moments and live them again in my mind’s eye.
“15 degrees cooler” says the marketing slug for this place, Alila Jabal Akhdar, and indeed it is much cooler, much less humid and much more comfortable than Muscat’s summer heat thousands of metres below
“15 degrees more memorable,” I think to myself as she laughs again.
Perched on the edge of cliff 2,000 metres above sea level on Oman’s Green Mountain, the view from Alila is undeniably stunning. The peaks of the impressive Al Hajar range roll out before you as far as the eye can see.
Even the drive here is unforgettable, a climb up winding roads (only permissible in a 4X4) to the top of the world.
As you rise higher the endless unforgiving rock begins to give way to green shrubbery, which the cooler temperatures allow to gain a foothold. Jabal Akhdar might not be the Alps, but it is greener and is a change of scene from the dust below at ground level.
With every passing metre you ascend you feel a little less connected to the world beneath you, in truth the climb to Alila is an escape from the daily grind.
And nothing quite describes this hotel’s appeal more than the word ‘escape’, for that is what it is.
No one comes to the top of this mountain for business, it’s all for pleasure, it’s all peace, a degree of serenity … even if you are coming with little ones (who can frequently defy serene).
While this is a cliff-side fortress of luxury, it has as a resort evolved slightly in the short years it has been open to better accommodate families.
While the original concept might have been beautiful couples indulging in romantic retreats (and they are here) Alila has worked to welcome more families from Oman below who fly up the mountain in summer months as the mercury soars.
This includes a well-appointed children’s club, subtly hidden away in one of the hotel’s rooms, with consoles, toys and child minders to cope with a range of ages.
The hotel also conveniently offers a baby sitting service (something some big luxury chains forget) which means even mums and dads can get away for an hour or two’s peace to remember their names and what it actually feels like to be an adult.
That time can be used wisely in Juniper, the hotel’s signature restaurant which gazes out at the gorge, and the mountain range beyond. Even in darkness this vast space has a very real presence, illuminated by stars whose brightness are undimmed by the street light pollution of ground level.
This a la carte restaurant has many fine dishes to offer but none so much as the Omani tasting menu, including sumptuous melt in the mouth Shuwa, the delicious slow-cooked lamb famous in this country.
With all this natural space it makes sense that should be reflected by the accommodation and Alila’s Jabal Terrace room delivers on this promise.
In total it comprises 104 sq m of space, 52 sq m inside and the same amount outside in the form of the beautifully huge wooden balcony that looks out to the peaks, with the aforementioned linen curtain-lined day bed. It’s a fantastic space to watch the sun go down over the crags.
While inside is always going to be little more cramped than outside, the Jabal Terrace room still feels generous, especially the bathroom which includes a free-standing bath with a view of the gorge outside.
Every guest’s experience of this location will be different, each will come looking for different things, but all will have one thing in common, a truly unique stay which will linger long in the memory.