Oman Obsession

Writer Judy Chapman | November 9, 2017

With endless coastlines, rugged mountains and epic deserts, sacred mosques and souks, Oman offers the most diverse landscape in the Middle East. It is also the region’s fastest growing country in terms of tourism, and ranked as one of the safest countries in the world. But it’s their rich spa culture that makes Oman a pamper-seekers dream destination.

Omani culture is well known for indigenous scent rituals that have captivated the hearts of many. Take bakhoor, Arabic for ‘vapour’, for example. Believed to originate from nomadic tribes who burnt agarwood with grounded resins, powdered flowers and herbs to mask the scent of cooking, today the aroma of bakhoor can be found everywhere.

When entering a home, spa or even a shopping mall, the exotic scent of rose, sandalwood and juniper is usually in the air. As you pass doorways of the souk, you may witness the burning of frankincense for purification. Inside homes, Omanis smoke bakhoor to fragrance their clothes and hair. Outside, the men layer their dishdashas in scents of oud (or agarwood) and frankincense while the women adorn their elegant abayas with jewels and perfume oils. Secret bakhoor recipes are passed down through the generations, and no two recipes are ever the same.

Little wonder the treatments on the menu at Oman’s finest spas feature these exotic fragrances.


As Oman produces the highest quality frankincense in the world, it makes sense that spa offerings incorporate the wild ingredient once worth more than gold.  This luxury seaside spa in the capital city of Muscat offers a Sense of Place menu with divine Frankincense and Rose Wraps. The menu also features regional experiences such as Journey of Arabia ritual that includes sacred time in the hammam.

The resort with its incredible clifftop location overlooking the Gulf of Oman is the largest in Muscat with more than 640 hotel rooms designed to reflect the nation’s rich cultural heritage. There are stunning beaches and pools to cool off in during the summer, and endless eateries to dine in.  Their upgraded spa and wellness facilities launched this October.


Middle Eastern women visit this popular spa for their beauty services. Founded by an esthetician, it offers world-class beauty facials including LED Light Therapy and Microdermabrasion. However, the menu of local experiences such as Moroccan cleansing and hammam rituals are favoured among locals and expats.

Journey through a menu of Omani Purify Ritual, The Frankincense Polish and The Ayana Olive Oil Ritual – all comprising frankincense, myrrh, rose and other heavenly local ingredients. Most popular is The Amber Ritual that consists of scrubs, oils and massage balms scented with amber resin and concludes with an offering of amber tonic water. This is Muscat’s only upmarket independent spa and is a favourite for bridal and birthday groups.


Omanis take a great deal of care with their appearance, and the well-heeled head to this expansive 800sqm spa for weekly manicures and facials. Many have a preference for organic offerings and this spa caters to this with its sublime Ila spa treatments, as well as massages using pure frankincense oil. This city’s largest and most upscale spa situated in the sea-facing Chedi Muscat’s 21 acres boasts 13 dimly lit teak wood treatment rooms.

Downstairs, the gym is designed with private workout spaces for men and women and holds daily yoga and Pilates classes. Design-wise, the hotel feels Arabian with romantic archways and tranquil pools, a stunning homage to contemporary Omani architecture. The resort is known for The Restaurant, undoubtedly Muscat’s finest destination dining experience.

When entering a home, spa or even a shopping mall, the exotic scent of rose, sandalwood and juniper is usually in the air