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“Really good, but lacking polish”

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Shangri La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa - Al Bandar Hotel
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Barr Al Jissah
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed March 23, 2006

Stayed at the Al Waha from 6th - 16th March, and for a 10 night break it was very enjoyable although slightly frustrating in some areas. Reviewers talking about Concierge service are right, it is lacking, and personally I cannot stand the holiday camp style buffet restaurants, the Al Tanoor being really poor indeed. Sunbeds, whilst now plentiful (we could go and get beds at Waha or Bandar at 1030 with no problems at all) need more shaded spots, particularly as the shades are fixed and cannot be moved to compensate for the angle of the sun! Final moan, the Italian restaurant was totally non-Italian, even insisting on serving oil and balsamic with bread which you will not find anywhere in Italy! The Spanish chef also seemed to shout incredibly loudly at his staff in the kitchen, much to the amusement of the customers in the restaurant.

So, frustrations over, what about the good stuff?

Bait al Bahr, the 'seafood' restaurant, thankfully had non-seafood dishes, and is by miles the best a-la-carte at the resort, with excellent staff, and really tasty food. My only real problem was the ghastly German family who turned up to dinner on the 13th March (you know who you are) with two obnocious children who ran around the terrace all night whilst Grandma sang loudly to them. Sadly, no example was set by Dad who had dressed for the occassion in swim shorts and a vest. Second visit to the Bait al Bahr two nights later was truly excellent, partly due to the removal of our German chums.

Samba restaurant has a small and not widely publicised bar, where you can get a great draft beer for OR 2-00 and enjoy super service from Ram and his chums. Well worth a trip. I suggested to Kevin the manager, mentioned elsewhere, that the Waha does need a main bar, and was told that plans are afoot for a main bar close to the beach.

Room was fine, big enough, and well fitted. Great balcony. No real mossie problem apart from a couple of bites, but much better than Dubai for that. Business centres had handy free internet.

Altogether really a very good stay, in a hotel which will, given a few months of settling down, be excellent. The Shangri-la folks do listen to the comments on this site, as many of the problems raised in earlier reviews had been addressed. My only real issue was the lack of real choice amongst the restaurants, aside from the Bait al Bahr which was the saving grace.

Outside the hotel, we too went to the Wadis and desert, which is really the no.1 thing to do in Oman as the scenary is amazing. Try also a quick trip to the fish market at Barka as this is much more real and local than the more touristy one in Muscat. Remember also that airfares within the GCC are not hugely punitive, and we found that a trip up to Bahrain for the F1 race was not too bad pricewise and an excellent day out. For evenings out, we tried taxis to some of the other hotels, and Trader Vics at the Intercontinental followed by a glass in their English pub was an international option. We did also try a local Omani restaurant which I certainly enjoyed, but my non spice eating wife did not!

Gulf Air was broadly OK, certainly more friendly and better quality than Emirates, which, like Dubai, is all a bit plastic and artificial!

So folks, get to Muscat before it is roundly wrecked by over-development!

  • Stayed: March 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
18  Thank Jerry1971
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 23, 2006

Hi there,
Just back from a week staying at the Al Bandar and have nothing but praise for this wonderful hotel and the resort as a whole. Having read the many reviews particularly the ones posted around half-term time I was a little nervous re sunbeds and shade!! Can tell you that this is no longer a problem. Only annoyance to us was that we were unable to sit around pool for the entire week due to the fact that people insisted on "bagging" sunloungers at the most ridiculous time of the morning. Personally I have much better things to do than get up at 0700 and bag a lounger when I'm on my hols!! Also noticed a number of guests "reserving" seats early morning then not turning up to use them until almost mid-day. Thought that was a bit out of order to be honest. Brought this to the attention of hotel staff.

Our arrival couldn't have been smoother. We used the hotel private transfer and although pricey, both my partner and I agreed it was worth it. No sooner had we stepped out of arrivals then our airconditioned chariot awaited. No haggling in the heat and driver very courteous. Due to arriving in the middle of rush hour drive to approx 1 hour so was well worth the luxury. On arrival at the hotel (0800) we were given our room straight away and were on the beach by 0945!!

Al Bandar is by far more luxurious in it's fixtures and fittings although having not seen a room at Al Waha I can only vouch for the public areas there. Our room in Al Bandar was beautifully appointed and most rooms there are sea facing.

We loved the Piano Lounge and the two for one offer between 6pm - 7pm was not advertised at all in hotel so thanks to those that made us aware via this site!! We were on a bed and breakfast rate so paid for lunch (salads/pizza/sanx etc)at Circles Pool Bar which was approx £15 a day for two of us. (No alcohol with that just soft drinks!) Dinner at buffet cost approx £25 per person including a bottle of wine and bottle of San Pellegrino (sparkling water). Include to that any adhoc drinks of the alcohol variety and it does become fairly pricey!! Most expensive meal was definately the Capri Court and to be honest we didn't feel that the price was justified. The seafood restaurant was great and although pricey in this case the cost was justified.
We were so impressed by service and standards that we will definately return next year hopefully to the Al Husn. Wonderful!!

11  Thank mitzie2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 23, 2006

Stayed at Al Bandar for a week. Loved Oman, the geography, climate, people and lack of tourism were all just what we'd hoped for. We ate twice at each of Samba, Capri Court and seafood restaurants - the food/service in each was excellent (although at the seafood restaurant the menu was confusing - fish listed wrongly, red wine listed as white). Swimming pools were lovely and largely empty, and provision of free bottles of water was good.

Negatives are largely derived from expectations dictated by the 5* rating. Staff are courteous and well trained, but clearly lack direction from management. Like another reviewer, we hated having to get up early to reserve sunbeds. Lack of butler service around the pool and beach is a huge oversight by the hotel - we would have spent a lot more if we could have ordered drinks and food throughout the day. Any requests we made to housekeeping were consistently ignored on first request; there was no turndown service apart from on the first night when slippers which had obviously been worn by previous guests were provided; the mini-bar was incomplete and not replenished; we received early (ie 5am) alarm calls which we hadn't ordered (some other unfortunate guests probably missed flights as a result!); the baths are too small for an aftersun soak. We were left with the impression that the hotel management are not concerned about customer satisfaction.

The 6* hotel is due to open next month. Whilst reception staff initially resisted our requests to visit it, we were eventually shown around and were very impressed by the position and decor of the hotel. If the hotel management could connect more with their customers, perhaps this 6* hotel might reach the standards of 5* hotels elsewhere, eg Dubai.

We'll definitely visit Oman again, but will probably try the Chedi or Al Bustan next time.

  • Stayed: March 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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10  Thank Oxfordshire
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 21, 2006

Oman now has its own Eden. Although this new hotel complex is an excellent choice, details need to be improved before it really meets the top quality it claims.
It is located a few kilometers south of the Oman Dive Centre Bandar Jussa and it can be reached on a new road. Apart from the dive centre, no other buildings are close to the hotel. It takes 45 minutes to the airport. Four times a day a complementary shuttle drives the guests to the Mutrah Soukh (a 30' drive) and to the shopping area (another 15'). A food supermarket (Al Fair) in the Capital Commercial Centre can be reached after five minutes walking from this shopping area. Because we arrived at the Soukh before the opening of the shops, we walked about two hours roundtrip along the corniche to the recently extended palace of the Sultan. Afterwards, enough time remained for shopping.
The hotel complex consists of two hotels at sea level and one luxury hotel on the cliffs. The two hotels have a private 300 meter beach. The luxury Al Husn hotel can be reached by an elevator from the Al Bandar hotel. The Al Husn will open in April, but not all rooms will be ready. The Al Husn will have its own 100 meter beach. The very extensive grounds of the three hotels make it a highly attractive place to stay.
We stayed in a terrace room in the Al Bandar. Terrace rooms are on the ground floor and provide easy access to the courtyard and large pool area. Balcony rooms are on the upper floors.
The rooms are nice but not luxuriously decorated. The bath room, for example, has only one wash-basin. The corridors are carpeted but not the rooms. The rooms should be better maintained and cleaned (some towels were missing, the floor and the terrace doors were not immaculately clean). There seems to be no control of the work of the chamberboys/maids. During our stay (mid March), there was an irritating plague of moths, particularly on the terraces on the ground floor (was it seasonal? Was it due to the greenery in the courtyard?).
A rich breakfast buffet is served in the Al Tanoor. The Al Tanoor has outside and inside seating. Outside are 6 large umbrellas which should give shade to the 26 tables on the terrace. However half of the tables remain in the sun in the morning. Therefore many guests must sit inside for breakfast. The outside pantry for the staff is also in the sun.
The Capri Court restaurant offers tastefully prepared dishes at very reasonable prices (35 euro for a three-course dinner) but wine, for example, is not surprisingly expensive. Two waitresses, Echeche and Glindi provide an exceptionally friendly and personal service. Echeche recommended a delicious tiramisu. The German chef, Andi, prepares fine food; his colleague Jordi dredges too much salt. Indoors is completely non-smoking.

  • Stayed: March 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
16  Thank mundus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 19, 2006

Just returned from the Shangri La on the 18.March - we had stayed with our 2 children for 9 days.

We had booked 2 connecting rooms at Al Bandar with a patio (i.e. ground floor) but when we arrived at 11 pm found that 2 connecting rooms were not available. We were a bit disappointed, even though we were upgraded to a suite with connecting room in Al Waha - which admittedly was fantastic. However, assistant manager Kevin at Al Bandar went out of his way to make up for the change and after 2 days we had the choice of staying in the suite or moving to 2 interconnecting rooms in Al Bandar (chose the latter because kids could walk right out of the rooms to the pool area).

What we thought could be improved: the sea food restaurant had just opened 2 days earlier and was disappointing. Considering that you have an ocean of fish and shellfish on the doorstep, there was hardly
any shellfish on the menue. Our (Boston ?) lobster was charred (at least not charged afterwards) and the dishes were a bit too fancy for our taste. Straight prawns with lemon butter, garlic butter or chilly sauce and the like were missing.

Al Tanoor was excellent both for breakfast and dinner.
Variety of restaurants was lacking, but more are to open shortly.

Service, friendliness and most important - action taken on smaller problems - can hardly be improved.
Some staff were not too knowlegeable on various aspects of the resort and country but this will surely improve with time.

The pools, sun beds (Al Bandar), beach, sea, temperature of pools and sea in March, cleanliness
of the whole resort were to die for.

Piano lounge - yes, there is a piano playing indoors as of 9 pm - is fantastic. Booked a Hertz car at the concierge for a day trip into the mountains - had no problems at all. Dolphin watching boat trip at Omani dive centre next door (Euros 36/person - kids half incl. breakfast) very nice - saw no dolphins but watched a whale from about 20 metres! Ride 2 -3 hours; very enjoyable. Shangri La recommends a different operator at Euros 60/person.

If you want a bit more quiet and luxury, go for Al Bandar, if you are happy arround families with many kids, Al Waha is your choice.

Lack of sun beds and shade, also noise from building are a thing of the past, even though the best sun beds are still being "booked" with towels as of 7 am. Very annoying indeed, but this is not a resort responsibility, more one of the guests.

The hotel transportation to and from the airport may be a bit more expensive than a taxi (Euro 58 for a van for 4 persons one way - would take 2 taxis at about Euros 20 each) but very relaxing and hassle free.

Overall an experience of total relaxation and pampering. Excellent management. Thanks to all at Shangri La - we will be back!

  • Stayed: March 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
24  Thank Nightflite
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 14, 2006

We stayed at the Al Bandar 27 Feb-07 Mar 2006 and overall found the Shangri La resort to be a lovely place to relax.

Having read the other reports, our experience of the building work still being carried out is in line with most others: minimal disruption in terms of noise. Our room at Al Bandar was one with a private terrace which was of a good size. We did feel that two loungers on the terrace would have added to our use of it during sunny mornings and as we could see that the lounger shortage was over (there were large supplies stacked near the tennis courts just by our end of the building) we asked for these to be supplied. Not only did Mark, the Property Manager, take care of this immediately and personally, he was friendly and professional during our subsequent conversation regarding other aspects of the resort. For example, we did feel there was a slight mosquito problem at our end of the Al Bandar (ie close to the bridge near the lazy river) and again, Mark personally accompanied us to the area to inspect it and summon two of his staff to come and treat the small quantity of offending water with chlorine immediately – this fixed the problem. It is worth noting that we asked Mark if he read the comments on Trip Advisor and he assured us that he did – we are glad he is listening and thank him again for his help!

We arrived early in the morning and so did not expect our room to be ready, but we were given breakfast and then shown to a temporary room so that we could sleep and start enjoying our holiday immediately. When we went to dinner, our luggage was transferred to our allocated room and was waiting for us as promised. This courtesy made a big difference to the beginning of our holiday and is a good example of the friendly/professional attitude we continually encountered throughout our stay.

With regard to restaurants, it is not quite fair to give the impression that a la carte options are limited, as we found them to be available whenever we asked. In addition, as a vegetarian, I found that at Samba the buffet wouldn’t be a very fair price for me, since although extensive, it didn’t offer that much vegetarian choice. I mentioned this to the host and was assured that I could eat from the buffet and be charged only for what I had – although I would like to see more overall vegetarian choice at all of the eating establishments, this attitude seemed both fair and helpful to me. Our main complaint with regard to the restaurants, particularly the Al Tandoor at breakfast time, would be lack of non smoking areas – in the case of breakfast and buffets, totally non smoking would be a much healthier option! Mark did say that he would look into this issue.

The piano bar is very enjoyable and the happy hour drinks a bonus (we only knew of it because of reading Trip Advisor though, not well advertised!) but how about a piano?! That would certainly add to the ambience…

Naturally like everyone else, we noticed the problem with lack of shade and did spend one day searching in vain (plenty of loungers in full sun, unoccupied). Once again, this was an issue we raised with Mark, who apologised and explained that supplies had been slow to reach the resort – it seems as though this problem has also been rectified now.

Owing to the storm that occurred a few days before we arrived, the lazy river was still out of action, but hats off to the landscapers and gardeners who have created a beautiful display of tropical plants and maintain the property so well.

We would like to echo the comments of a fellow Trip Advisor reviewer who mentioned that there were a lot of children at the Al Bandar (yes we know that Al Waha is the hotel marketed towards children!) specifically quite a high proportion of infants. Aspects of that could be quite wearing when the Al Bandar is more marketed towards adults and business travellers – just something to be aware of!

Although the health club is not yet fully operational, we booked massages and have nothing but praise for the staff we saw.

We recommend booking the hotel shuttle to visit the souk and we had no problems with availability or reservations through the front desk. It is also worth having dinner outside the hotel to experience some of the great Indian restaurants that abound – good value too, even factoring in a taxi fare! Our only regret is that we didn't have longer than a week; on a return trip we would definitely plan to take a 4x4 type trip out to different areas of natural beauty.

Gulf Air – my friend and I have travelled extensively and worked in the travel industry, so we are used to various scenarios, but although we too were upgraded to business class on our return flight, I’m afraid I can’t say we love Gulf Air because of it. An upgrade is always nice, but honestly, Gulf Air had given away our preassigned and reconfirmed seats because they overbooked with passengers connecting from other parts of the Gulf and Asia. They certainly would have been happy to leave us in two centre seats, rows apart for the duration of the return flight if we had not pressed the issue.

As other reviewers have said, the Omani people are lovely – warm and friendly, with a welcoming demeanour. All in all we would recommend this resort and enjoyed the good standard of service in a pretty corner of this lovely country!

  • Stayed: March 2006
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
30  Thank EurovisionUK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Surrey, UK
Reviewed March 9, 2006

My boyfriend and I just spent a week in the Al Bandar hotel and had a lovely time. Although there is evidence that they are still putting together the finishing touches, we experienced little disruption from this. Our original room, a deluxe sea view, was lovely and had a huge balcony, but it was just next to the Al Husn which is yet to open and we experienced some noise on the second day as a result of work taking place. My boyfriend contacted reception about this and they immediately arranged for us to be moved and upgraded, which was an extra helpful touch.

Over all, the pool area and beach were wonderful. The sunbeds were the most comfortable I have ever experienced and they were nicely spaced out, so you never felt too packed in. Unfortunately, perhaps as a result of the time of year, were were not able to do any snorkelling as the sea was quite silty, though I understand that Oman is generally supposed to be excellent for this.

The restaurants were fantastic, we tried all that were open and had lovely food everywhere. I am not a huge fan of buffets but the salad buffet lunches in Al Tandoor and Samba were very tasty with lots of variety, and seemed good value. In the evening we found that the best meal we had was in Capri Court (the Italian), although all the meals we had were superbly cooked with plenty of choice. Do make sure you book for the restaurants though as they get very busy. I would also like to echo the comments of others with regard to the piano lounge, which is lovely for pre-dinner cocktails. It is beautifully designed and two for one during happy hour between 6 and 7pm is a great idea.

Over all, we thought the resort was excellent and very relaxing. I would definitely reccomend Al Bandar for those who are in a couple, as Al Waha is much more family orientated. You can use the restaurants in both hotels anyway which is great. We were very sad to leave, the Omani people were frienly and helpful, and although the hotel is still being finished off it was beautiful and very enjoyable. We would love to go back next year once everyting is open and the minor teething problems are over.

18  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Shangri La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa - Al Bandar Hotel

Address: Barr Al Jissah, Muscat 113, Oman
Location: Oman > Muscat Governorate > Muscat > Barr Al Jissah
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Barr Al Jissah
Price Range: $256 - $471 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Shangri La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa - Al Bandar Hotel 5*
Number of rooms: 198
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TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Cancelon, Evoline ltd and TripOnline SA so you can book your Shangri La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa - Al Bandar Hotel reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
Also Known As:
Shangri La`s Barr Al Jissah Resort And Spa-Al Bandar
Shangri La`s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa-Al Bandar Hotel Muscat Governorate
Shangri Las Muscat
Shangri La Muscat
Shangri La Oman
Shangri La Hotel Oman
Shangri La Hotel Muscat
Shangri Las Al Bandar

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