We stayed at the Al-Waha for 4 nights at Easter after finding a great deal on the Shangri La's own website which was much better than Expedia/Booking etc. Overall we had a great time there. The pool and beach were spotless, the staff in the main were extremely attentive and very professional and the location, while 20 mins from Muscat, is beautiful. But there are a number of concerns that make this not a 5 Star hotel, although the resort is certainly 5 star.
On our second night, we went to the seafood restaurant, having been recommended by a friend who stayed their recently. The location is great, just off the beach overlooking the sea. However, the staff were rushing us to order from the minute we arrived. No patience. We ordered and within a couple of minutes, an additional starter arrived, complements of the Chef. Now bear in mind this is a seafood restaurant at a 5 star resort, the last thing you would expect would be crab sticks (the plasticky process pink variety) placed on top of a bit of limp green leaf. Unfortunately, this aberration on a plate ruined the rest of the evening and I got even more frustrated when it took the staff more than 20 mins to clear the plates afterwards. The rest of the meal was nice, but nothing special. Considering it cost £180 for 3 of us, including a bottle of wine, this was pretty disappointing. After the meal we went to the piano bar, but were refused access because we had children (16 and 12), even though there were other children in the bar. We were told that this was the rule in Oman but it was not documented in any of the hotel's information. The following night we went back and sat on the outside terrace with no issues.
My other big annoyance from a supposed 5 star resort is sun beds. There are just not enough to go around, especially under shade and in the Al-Waha. If you don't get a towel out by 8am, forget it. Plus I really can't stand people hanging their washing over the balcony!
The resort is also extremely expensive, and around £8 for a beer or cocktail. That said, it is not wholly unexpected and most other hotels around the Middle East charge accordingly. It is also difficult to get a seat in any of the bars or restaurants, and with nothing around the outside of the hotel, you can end up waiting for ages to sit down. Although the staff are great in trying to move furniture around to accommodate.
We used the watersports centre which was very good. Free kayaks to paddle around the cove and waterskiing/wakeboarding/inflatables as well. Not cheap, but you do get a good ride and the staff do not rush you.
If you have young kids, the Al-Waha is probably ideal, but with older children/teens, I would not recommend it. The Al-Bandar next door is far superior in every way. As breakfast is included, you can take it in either the Al-Waha or Al-Bandar. It is worth going to the Al-Bandar as the choice is better, the food better and it isn't quite as crowded.
Finally, the rooms. Nice, but tired and a bit small. Beds really comfy though and good pressure showers. Always spotless!
Overall, the Al-Waha is not a 5 star. It tries but fails. Just going to the Al-Bandar next door shows the difference in class between the two. That said, it is a good 4 star with some great amenities. The resort itself is beautiful, and we would go back in a heartbeat. Next time though, we'll stay at the Al-Bandar or 6 star Al-Husn and pass on the seafood restaurant.
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- Also Known As:
- Shangri La`s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa-Al Waha Hotel Muscat Governorate
- Shangri La`s Barr Al Jissah Resort And Spa-Al Waha
- Shangri Las Muscat
- Shangri Las Al Waha