A Paragliding Entrance!
When my 10-year-old daughter and I were sketching out our around-the-world trip, we had a few unplanned days between Paris and Bali, and literally half the world to work with. I brought this up with a friend in Beijing. “Have you heard of the paragliding entrance to the Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman?” she asked. I hadn’t, but it seemed perfect – a truly unique, kid-friendly experience in a country that would be new for both my daughter and me. I texted my daughter and she was in. Done!
The Six Senses Zighy Bay is in Oman’s northern Musandam Peninsula, separated from the rest of Oman by the UAE, and far closer to Dubai than to Muscat. To get there we flew to Dubai, overnighted at the Four Seasons Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, and then met a driver at 11am who drove us roughly two hours past large mosques, small Arabian towns and endless sand dunes into Oman. As we were driving over the mountain closest to the Six Senses, the driver took a turnout and, overlooking the sea, we met the Six Senses’ expert paraglider.
This was it – the moment we had been most looking forward to on our trip! Except that unfortunately the wind didn’t cooperate. The resort’s paraglider informed us that because my daughter was so light (60 pounds) she would be able to go, but I (at 150 pounds) would have to hope for the wind to pick up the next couple days. My daughter strapped in with the paraglider and, after a few minutes waiting for the right gust, took off and flew for roughly 10 minutes down to the beach next to the resort. I jumped in the car and we met them at the beach and we then checked in. The wind never did get strong enough during our stay for me to paraglide, but given that the resort is surrounded by sand, I’m not sure that wind would have been desirable? My daughter loved the experience and highly recommends it to other kids!
Honestly, we hadn’t thought much about our stay past the paragliding entrance that sounded so cool, but we were extremely impressed by the resort during our two-nights there. The Six Senses Zighy Bay is quite literally an oasis in the desert landscape, and is now on our short-list of very cool, kid-friendly, unique resorts that we’re going to want to come back to soon. What impressed us?
The Beach and Ocean
So Oman is hot in the summer. Really hot. This made the sand at the beach a little too hot (without shoes) during the day, but it was great in the morning and late afternoon, and the water was warm. The beach was never crowded.
We loved our villa. There were two showers – one outside in a private courtyard and one inside. There was a chess board. There was a private plunge pool which always seemed to be the perfect temperature. And there was an Omani Summer House – a shaded hut between the villa and beach that my daughter took over as her own private fort. Note to all hotels worldwide: kids love forts.
I was awake for both sunrises during our stay (thank you jet lag), while my daughter slept. Even if you don’t have jet lag, I highly recommend waking up for at least one sunrise!
Worried that your kids won’t like Omani food? Don’t be. The food was uniformly excellent, and there are plenty of fish and Western options. I loved the Arabic buffet night at Spice Market.
The resort offers all sorts of water-based and non-water-based activities. We tried out the tubing, and it was one of my daughter’s favorite things anywhere on our around-the-world trip. We hopped onto a tube/raft and a boat pulled us around at over 50 knots for half an hour. We could have gone even longer.
We also did the Sabatyn Sunset Adventure, where we drove up to the Sabatyn plateau for sunset, exploring a couple of small villages and learning about local life along the way. I’d recommend this more for couples than families. I really liked the drive and the sunset picnic, with its excellent appetizers and perfect view. My daughter though gets car-sick so she wasn’t loving life by the time we got up to the top and she didn’t enjoy it as much.
We love when hotels have libraries – take a book, leave a book.
Every villa comes with bicycles, sized for the residents. We saw multiple kid sizes around. Bike riding at the Six Senses isn’t easy, since you have to be on the lookout for pockets of sand that make it hard to steer, but it was fun, and a great way to get around.
The Kids Club and Teen Club
The Six Senses Zighy Bay has a kids club and a teen club and an impressive array of activities at each, even during weeks when fewer kids are around. The funny thing is that we were so busy doing everything else that we didn’t take advantage of the activities, other than getting a henna tattoo before our desert safari. Activities the week we were there included archery, volleyball, goat feeding, sand art, slack-lining and bungee trampoline. How many resorts have a bungee trampoline?
The Six Senses Zighy Bay starts at $595/night in the summer and runs closer to $1000/night during the cooler months. I’ve stayed at $1000/night hotels elsewhere that I didn’t think were worth the money. The Six Senses Zighy Bay offers a lot for that price, though, especially for families. If your budget is closer to $600/night than $1000, go in the summer. Food adds around $180/day for adults and half that for kids. The paragliding entrance is extra. I received a media rate, but would have been happy with the value I was receiving if I was paying full-price – again, compared with other places we’ve stayed that are on the same level.
This is a great resort for non-budget-minded families looking for a unique destination that’s utterly kid-friendly. I do very few hotel-specific blog posts – a hotel really has to impress me on every level for me to think that it’s worth reading about. The Six Senses Zighy Bay did that. We stayed for two nights, which was too short. I would say four nights is optimal.
Oman was hot when we were there – 106f/41c in the early afternoon. We sweated a lot and drank a lot of water, but the temperature didn’t affect our stay. I’d definitely return in the summer, especially with the cost savings.