I have been meaning to write a post on the Chedi Muscat for some time now. So I jumped at the chance to go check it out for myself over the long weekend Islamic celebration of Eid. This GMH resort has 158 rooms and suites spread graciously throughout the serenely minimal landscape and architectural experience. Designed by Jean Michele Gathy, this property is reason enough to visit the capital city of this truly wonderful country, Oman.
The drive approach is surprisingly plain and lacking in any hint of what is to be expected. Perhaps a sorbet to de-clutter ones visual memory? The lobby is an iconic image that you may have seen before, of a contemporary Arabic courtyard inspired vestibule. It gets more paired back from there. Like any great resort, it’s all about the natural setting and the experience of getting from place to place within the resort, that is equally as important as the destination of a guestroom or restaurant. And that is what this post is about – the landscape and architecture. I will save interiors spaces for another post.
The landscape planning is deliberately controlled orthogonal geometry of square reflection pools, evenly spaced large stepping flagstones, a minimal variety of plant species and a repeated rhythm of colonnaded walkways with fine slatted timber screens. It’s a meandering journey without one curve, and many ways of wandering to get from one place to another. There is a divine rhythm in the repeated vertical elements and varying sizes of the white rendered buildings, which are interspersed with calming reflection pools and a few Louis Kahn Salk Institute moments.
The design is a contemporary minimalistic reinterpretation of Omani architecture. One of the few places in the developed World you can go and not find any glass towers, (in contrast to its neighbours in the UAE). Historically dwellings were made of mud rendered limestone block walls, now rendered concrete block walls, you can see in the above image of Muscat “CBD” Al Shatti, of how the Sultan’s planning authority has maintained the integrity of this vernacular in this city of villages nestled amongst the dramatic limestone Hajar mountains.
The quandary about staying in a resort this astonishingly sublime, is that you may not want to leave it to explore the wonders of this city. But I recommend to plan to be by one of the pools for the early part of the afternoon, when the country has it’s Arabic version of a siesta and everything is shut. Then consider watching the sun set over the sea with a cocktail from the beach club, and get a taxi to Mutrah Souk in the old Corniche port area of town to experience Omanis going about their relaxed life. A sunset cruise on and old timber Dhow is also a must. I could easily rave on and on about the beauty of this city and warmth of her proud people, but its better in pictures. See below snaps from my wanderings of this charming Arabian city. To me, it’s the Fiji of the Middle East.
Photos by the Author, bar the two from The Chedi Website