20 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
"Decent welcome on arrival, bags unloaded from car & provided with luggage receipt. Offered seats at coffee table in reception & checked in by friendly lady, provided with complimentary fruit juice & kids offered ice cream while we waited. Adjoining rooms overlooking the Gulf of Oman. Rooms decent size, clean and bed comfortable. Not luxurious but quite nice. Doors & furniture in a rather generic orange teak-style veneer which although in good condition looks cheap. First problem: arrive at pool 11:30 and every lounger occupied, not by a person but by a 'stake-claiming towel'. Definitely some Germans in the hotel..... but literally impossible to find a lounger at all, had to sit in the pool bar at a table. Surely in a top-quality resort hotel there should be sufficient loungers for the all the guests at the hotel to find somewhere to sunbathe? Lunch: three choices near the al Waha pools, two of which basically turned out to be the same (i.e. pool bar/cafe offers same menu as Surf Cafe). Ate at Samba, a weird fusion restaurant serving Sushi, Quesadillas, Tabbouleh & Steak Sandwich all on the same menu. But quite nice. starters & mains in the range 5-10 rials (around USD 18). 'Lazy River' that runs between al Waha & al Bandar popular with the children. Tried the beach after lunch. A few more loungers available there. Second problem: tried to book a table at Bait al Bahr for dinner, but nothing available before 9:30 pm. Always annoying when you arrive at a new hotel and they haven't suggested you book your first night's meal. Day two was better. Staff brought out loungers for us when we pointed out there were none free. Bait al Bahr dinner was very nice. Third problem: they seemed to be re-carpeting the bedrooms, so our corridor was filled with matresses, beds & furniture. Not really the ambience of a luxury hotel. This carried on for several days. The first time we tried the Al Tanoor restaurant for dinner, things didn't go well - we lost our table when we got up to go to buffet; made a fuss because it is somewhat annoying to find your table occupied. Maitre d'hotel was very apologetic & when we left at the end of the meal, told us there would be no charge. You can't really say fairer than that. Funny thing was, at every meal thereafter he asked us if the table was OK....... I guess at least he had a sense of humour. Al Tanoor ended up being our favourite restaurant of the trip since there was a lot of choice: Arab Mezze, delicious curries, Lebanese-style grilled meats & straightforward European fare were always on offer, but some nights of the week there was a theme (e.g. seafood, Indian) to give some variation. Most of the packages seem to include complimentary breakfast buffet. If not included, it would have been quite expensive at OMR 10 per person (USD 26), although kids were free. By the end of day four we had basically decided that al Waha wasn't the sort of standard we were expecting, and asked to be moved to al Bandar. Even though the three hotels are linked -- they share a bay and guests at each hotel can use most (if not all) of the facilities at all three -- where al Waha pool area felt like a bit of a zoo (probably because there were so many kids but also because the loungers were clustered around the pool), al Bandar was much more serene. Partly, this was probably because there were fewer young children, but also the pools were arranged so there was more greenery between them, and the loungers tended to be more remote, so it was possible to find a quiet little niche but still be near enough the pools that our kids knew where to find us. Also, people came round periodically offering complimentary water & fruit, which was nice. We didn't see that at al Waha. Many fitness activities on offer to residents of all three hotels: early morning yoga, aerobics, beach football, canoeing, windsurfing. Dive centre nearby for scuba. for kids there was a fair amount going on, with various sports organized (e.g. water polo, beach football) as well as Little Turtles Club for the under 12s and Turtles for the teens, with table tennis, PlayStation and the chance to make some new friends. Many excursions on offer, with a complimentary shuttle bus to Muttrah souq & Muscat Old Town & another to a Muscat shopping mall. We went on the Nizwa trip which was a long day but very interesting. Internet: free wired internet in the rooms, and when we had a problem because we have two laptops and one wire, the hotel provided a complimentary wireless router within a few minutes and configured our laptops quickly. WiFi hotspots in the lobby areas, too. Turtle ranger was interesting, showed the children a recent nest that they were moving to a safer spot. They offered to call us if anything hatched but we didn't fancy being woken at midnight! Incidentally, we were taken to turtles nests on the al Husn private beach. Although the beach was very exclusive -- being only available to al Husn guests, and separated from the other beaches by a headland -- it had a rather lonely, remote feel to it. Nice beach furniture though! Somehow the hotel managed to find out it was my birthday and one evening after dinner we got back to the room to find a birthday cake, which was a very sweet gesture. Likewise, on Easter Sunday, the kids were given chocolate Easter eggs, which they enjoyed. Some of the food very inconsistently priced: for example, kids eat free for breakfast & supper buffets, but at lunch in Samba one day we were charged OMR 5.500 (USD 14) for a plate of plain spaghetti for one child. Alcohol also expensive, but in a Moslem country I don't really have an issue with that. Complimentary bottled water was offered at the beach & pool and in the room. Omani buffet again priced very differently from other buffets: where kids were free at al Tanoor, we were charged OMR 20 per child for the Omani buffet, and yet most of the food was the same stuff available every day at al Tanoor with the addition of just a few more specifically Omani dishes, with the result that a meal for four with wine for the adults & sodas for the kids at the Omani buffet weighed in at USD 230. Indicative drinks costs: Bottle of wine OMR 20 (USD 50) Kir Royale OMR 15 (USD 39!!) Bottle of beer OMR 2.200 (USD 6) Milkshake OMR 2.400 (USD 6) Shot of gin OMR 2.600 (USD 7) Can of Coke OMR 1.200 (USD 3) 1.5ltr mineral water OMR 1.600 (USD 4) Indicative restaurant costs (two adults plus two children, including drinks - children's food free in buffets): al Tanoor (dinner): OMR 40 Bait al Bahr (dinner): OMR 70 Omani buffet (dinner): OMR 90 Sheherezade (dinner): OMR 100 Samba (lunch): OMR 28 Circles (lunch): OMR 30 I'm not sure we would stay here again. Although the staff throughout the stay were friendly, helpful and efficient, and the area is beautiful, it is quite remote even from Muscat so you are a bit trapped. Also, the 3-hotel configuration means they probably don't do a perfect job of any of them as there is too much 'spillage' of guests between the hotels: if I had being paying to stay at Al Husn with its private beach, I'm not sure I would have been keen on the beach being invaded each evening by kids following the Turtle Ranger to look at new nests, for example. Also, some of the guests at Al Waha were the sort of people I would expect to encounter on the beach at Torrelmolinos (a cheap resort in Spain), not at an expensive resort in Oman. This review has been posted (in abbreviated form) under al Bandar as well since we stayed at both"
- Travel date: 29th April 2009
Beautiful hotel but so expensive and location remote.
"We spent 10 days at Al Waha, we had a wonderful holiday but would not return. For children this hotel is amazing, lazy river, beautiful pools, kids menus. However the room was probably the smallest I have stayed in., We were given a ground floor room with a terrace fronting onto the lazy river, I flatly refused to stay there, entering through the front door meant you lost some room and with an extra bed there was no room at all. We were then shown a room on the 4 floor which was slightly better but not huge. The hotel is immaculate, the grounds beautiful and the service amazing (not bettter though than four seasons, sharm) The food was nice but so expensive. Lunch - pizza, chips, beer Â£25. Dinner never less than Â£100 even if you tried! Wine Â£8 a glass and cheapest bottle Â£30. The beach is nice but not amazing, and the hotel very remote. Having been the Maldives many times I wish for the money we had spent here that we had gone there instead. In fact it would have probably have been cheaper!"
- Travel date: 28th April 2009
Well the Children loved it!
"After a week of fabulous cultural immersion in Oman (believe me one of the best countries I have ever visited) we planned to end up somewhere relaxing and somewhere the children could let off steam at the end of the trip. The children loved it. They loved the lazy river (like a baggage carousel in an airport only instead of baggage you have people going round and round on inflatable rings! If you go there you'll see what I mean). They didn't like the kids club. The youngest one loved the paddling pool with a mushroom waterfall. They loved the beach. Of all the hotels they visited they would give it an unreserved 10/10. Christine 747, well my pleasure was in seeing the children enjoy themselves. I didn't like the hotel myself. It was expensive. I've never been in a hotel with so many (screaming) children. The breakfast buffets were packed to capacity. Croissants were flaky and nice, coffee was perfect, buffets were fine and food good. The rooms close to the pool were entered from the terrace door. Remember to always close the curtains as passers-by (on what we called the street between our room terrace and the pool) the have unrestricted views. The rooms were plain cramped and you could have been anywhere. The noise - thud thud thud of the bass music for the water aerobics. Thud thud thud of the piped music everywhere was to me hell on earth. Given the crowds service was very good but room service forgot to deliver our bottle of champagne! The hotel although one of three is isolated, self contained and far out of town. I wouldn't agree with the previous posted giving it 3 starts - its worth 4. I enjoyed the stay because the children enjoyed it but I wouldn't think of going back again."
- Travel date: 27th April 2009
3 Star at best
"We booked the Shangri La Hotel online not realizing that the images on the Internet did not reflect that there are distinct quality differences between Al Waha and Al Bandar. On arrival we were shown to our booked family room which smelled terrible. We mentioned it and immediately were offered an alternate room, a suite, but we would have to move again a few days later. That room did not smell, but the quality of the fittings was 3 star at best, reminiscent of a 80's era Holiday inn. We mentioned that this did not reflect expectations set by the images on the website which is when they mentioned that Al Bandar (the middle hotel) was nicer, be it slightly more expensive. We upgraded to Al Bandar and were NOT disappointed by that. During our subsequent stay at Al Bandar we explored the pool area at Al Waha which is cramped and noisy, which again confirmed that Al Bandar is FAR superior to Al Waha. If you can afford the 20% premium, avoid Al Waha Throughout the process of changing between hotels which took about 45 minutes the Al Waha staff were outstandingly helpful and understanding. Nothing bad can be said about the staff."
- Travel date: 15th April 2009
A perfect relaxing week in the sun with friendly helpful staff and excellent service.
"My husband and I stayed at the Al Waha the last week of March and enjoyed the experience of blissfully lazy days on an uncrowded beach right outside of our hotel room. All the staff we encountered could not have been more friendly and helpful and as others have said in previous reviews, we to had our reading and sunglasses cleaned daily on the beach, bottles of iced water in freezer boxes brought to our sunbeds, together with sliced fruits in tubs with little plastic forks and even cold wet cloths brought to mop our fevered brows! We had a superior ocean room overlooking the Gulf of Oman and the room itself was kept spotlessly clean. In fact, the resort itself was maintained to a very high standard. The food was sensational - not cheap by any means but there was a varied selection and of very good quality. Bottles of wine were very expensive - we had one bottle of pinot grigio which cost Â£30! The art is to go to the Long Bar between 4pm - 7pm when they have ' Happy Hour' and buy one (or two) and get one (or two) free!! If you want a relaxing, get away from it all week, then this is the place to go. If you feel the need to go outside the resort and explore, apart from guided tours (or taxis) there is nowhere you can 'just walk to' - if this is what you like you may feel a bit hemmed in but otherwise I would have no hesitation in recommending this resort."
- Travel date: 15th April 2009
Isolated but works well
"We stayed six nights in Al Waha rooms of the Shangri-La. When arriving, our reservation could not be found and the hotel are was like a swamp because ti was raining heavily for the first time in years. Luckily we waited until they found our origianl room reservations and didn't take up their offer to switch to a patio room - they were flooding by the evening. After the first day, the vacation was perfect. I liked the hotel are - there was a good spa, nice restaurants and enough space on the pool. Very frindly service. Worth walking around and finding your perfect spot and taking a look at all restaurants. We got some more problems when somebody bumped into our car in the parking lot, but the manager tried to help us with the situation very well. If I would go here again, I would choose Al bandar to get away from the children a bit."
- Travel date: 30th March 2009
Little things mean a lot
"This was a crash out few days! We wanted to be cosseted somewhere hot in the UK's winter and this is what we got at Al Waha! In spades! The hotel is one of 3 in a complex that fits into a natural contour of the mountain outcrop. All are classified @ 5 star or above (the Al Husn is considered 6 star and we couldn't share the facilities there, whereas we could with the other hotel. There is a private beach that covers all three hotels and is well maintained by the ample number of staff. Unfortunately we had a number of red-flag days due to onshore winds/heightened waves, but the pools more than made up for it. The depth is never more than 1.2 metres and there are water polo goals that proved to be very popular! You must experience the "Lazy River" that links the two main hotels. Just lie on an inflatable and let the gentle current take you there and back. Twenty minutes very well spent! Food was buffet style, with the option of a la carte, and we ate either at the main restaurant or the smaller one adjacent every night. With a couple of bottles of wine the whole food cost for the week was over Â£500. Eating is not cheap in the Middle East! It's the little things that make this an outstganding hotel. LIke the immediate attention to where you wish to sit or lie down. There's someone at you side with an ice-filled cool box with 4 free bottles of water inside. Like the guy who regularly comes to see you with the sole purpose of cleaning your glasses or sunglasses. Their staff seem to anticipate your needs brilliantly. Great hotel. Try it yourself."
- Travel date: 12th March 2009
perfect relaxing environment
"Spent 3 nights with my wife in Al Waha. Staff, perfectly trained and friendly, makes the difference while everything you may expect from a 5 stars is there. The difference is the existence of 3 different hotels on the same location offering varied deco and a large choice of bars and restaurants (tapas and fish venues are perfect). Still the chic atmosphere of a Shangri-La is preserved and you would definitively not find yourself like in an all inclusive resort."
- Travel date: 9th March 2009
Great place with excellent staff, but expensive
"The hotel is in a good location approximately 45 minutes from the airport and very peaceful. Our room was decent size with everything that we needed including free internet access in every room. The service from the staff is excellent with everyone being very helpful, for example they would bring you water, slices of fruit and even clean your sunglasses! The range of food is good and because you are given a credit on your bill equivalent to the buffet cost if you are half board, you can eat wherever you want within the complex. My wife went to the spa and enjoyed it thoroughly. However, this all comes at a price with the cheapest bottle of wine being 15 OMR (Â£30) etc. The Â£s weakeness doesn't help. The only other downside is that the remote location can work against you if you want to explore Muscat or eat in local restaurants although there are free shuttle buses although at restricted times."
- Travel date: 5th March 2009
Blissful stay with young children
"We have just arrived home from 4 nights at the Shangri La Barr Al Jissah in the Al Waha wing. We stayed in a family room which actually just consists of 2 interconnecting superior rooms. The rooms aren't huge at 36 square meters each, but they are very adequate. The rooms are tastefully furnished and were very clean and the bathrooms were also good. Really the only difference between family rooms and superior rooms is guaranteed interconnecting rooms, a play station and mini bar with no alcahol in the kids room plus plastic tumblers etc. Oh and probably the biggie is that you are on the ground floor, right near the pool. Was very happy to find an iron and ironing board in the room. We were so undecided about where to stay in Muscat because the reviews on Trip Advisor weren't that flash for any of the 5 star hotels. We eventually went with the Shangri La as we live in Abu Dhabi and know the quality of our own Shangri La, and have had friends enjoy it. It was a completely fantastic stay. 4 nights of bliss just laying by the pools. They had 2 different pools for small children, plus the main pool, all grouped together, so good if you have a range of ages in your children. We were quite terrified from other reviews about the cost of eating there, but were pleasantly suprised that it was completely what we were used to paying here in Abu Dhabi, or actually maybe even a little less. Service was very good, food was very good, services were very good. We ate in the Italian restaurant and had a lovely meal, we also did the seafood buffet at Al Tanoor (18 Riyals per adult). Buffet breakfast at Samba was ok, not the Shangri la in Abu Dhabi, but still very good. Our children did use the kids club, but with our Nanny in tow, so didn't actually leave them there alone. It was a small kids club but seemed adequate and my kids did enjoy going there to give them a break in their day from the pool. We did not leave the hotel for our entire stay because we were only interested in relaxing. The hotel is out of Muscat, so it would be a bit of a drive if you wanted to shuttle in and out. I believe the hotel charges about 35 Riyals for an airport transfer, but we only paid 13 Riyals in a taxi to the hotel and 20 Riyals on the way back to the airport. You can't get ripped off because you pay for your taxi at the airport, no fuss at all and very clean and comfy. All in all completely fabulous and would not hesitate in recommending!"
- Travel date: 3rd March 2009
Loved it!! Beautiful setting and great service
"This was our first time at the Shangri-La but it reminds of the how Dubai service used to be. The hotel is located in a lovely private cove and the first thing that struck me was how beautiful the setting is and the bird song. All the pools of both Al Waha and the AL Bandaar are a good depth for kids to play in and they loved the lazy river! Food was fab, pool side service excellent - the little cooler boxes with fresh water in are a brill idea and very welcome. Rooms very spacious and if you have a family interconnecting room remember to bring the psp games with you (we forgot of course!). Front desk staff only real let down - slow to check in even at 2.30am and not very helpful re late check outs for midnight flights home - unless you kick up a bit. Would still go back though - very nice hotel Beware buffet at Al Tanoor far uperior to Samba though and worth the saunter over to the other hotel"
- Travel date: 25th February 2009
Not a 5 star!
"My husband and I stayed at the Al Waha for seven nights from a break in Dubai - we were expecting luxury but ended up getting a posh Travelodge room instead - very disapointing. The room was clean but from a five star you expect better quality. Hotel is expensive but you expect it from a supposedly five star resort. Not a hotel I would recommend - stay at the Chedi and dont even consider this one."
- Travel date: 18th February 2009
Al Waha is also called
- Shangri La's Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa-Al Waha
- shangri las muscat
- shangri la mascate