Overlooking the pristine, blue waters of the Gulf of Oman, Al Masnaah or Al Mussanah in northern Oman offers a fun, relaxing beachfront getaway at the luxurious family-friendly Millennium Resort Mussanah.
Whether you’re resident in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or elsewhere in the UAE looking to make the most of a short break, escape city life on a summer weekend, or a tourist visiting Dubai, you absolutely should make time to visit Oman, a country that stands out not only thanks to its strong contrast to its neighbor, but more so for its wealth of culture and tradition, friendliness and hospitality, and diverse landscapes that may rightly be described as jaw-dropping.
Here, the multi-award winning Millennium Resort Mussanah, with its floating Aqua Fun waterpark, 175m long dual zipline, 18-hole mini-golf course, tennis courts, PADI dive center, spa, several restaurants and bars, and no less than five swimming pools, isn’t just a destination in its own right; it’s also a worthy base from which to explore cities such as Muscat (an hour’s drive away) and Nizwa (2 hours’ drive).
Recently, I had the chance to spend a long weekend at this resort, that was most recently awarded as Oman’s Leading Family-Friendly Resort at the World Travel Awards in 2019, and came away seriously impressed.
- The location of the resort in Al Masnaah, with views over a gorgeous marina where early in the morning, the water seems like a mirror image of the clouds, is truly spectacular and offers a true escape from city life, whether you’re coming from Dubai or closer home in Muscat.
- When it comes to dining, the options here are plenty and diverse, so you won’t get bored or have any lack of choice, even if you stay a couple of nights (I’d recommend at least two to experience all the offerings of the resort). There’s Al Bahar that serves Moroccan, Indian and Far Eastern cuisine, Azure that serves European and Mediterranean cuisine (and great seafood), and local and international food at all-day dining restaurant Mydan. Sip on cocktails and beverages poolside at The Deck or at the maritime-themed Compass Bar.
- Even if you don’t want to explore any of the cities or sights in the vicinity or further away close to Muscat or Nizwa, there are plenty of activities in the resort to keep you busy and active for days, from five swimming pools, tennis courts, kayaking and other watersports, an 18-hole mini-golf course, zipline and a floating waterpark, to a beautiful beach. There’s a PADI dive center if you want to dive or snorkel, or go sailing.
- There’s a fully equipped fitness center as well as the luxurious Zayna Spa that offers a range of relaxing treatments.
- The staff is friendly, helpful and polite- something I’ve come to expect after my first taste of Omani hospitality several years ago. One thing that stands out is that local staff will try to make things as easy as possible for you, even if that means they have to go out of their way a bit, and my experience at Millennium Resort Mussanah was no different.
- If you are interested in exploring Muscat or elsewhere, the resort can arrange a tour/program as per your preference so that you can sit back, relax and enjoy the experiences.
- Millennium Resort Mussanah is offering all-inclusive rates for the summer (2019) for guests staying for a minimum of 3 nights, that makes a lot of sense if you’re looking for an affordable family vacation that lets you enjoy all the activities and restaurants without worrying about it all adding up to a huge bill.
- Earthy tones, luxurious furnishings, and wood furniture marked the décor of our modern and spacious Superior King room that came with a business desk.
- We took full advantage of the tea and coffee-making facilities as we sipped on hot tea from our balcony with fantastic early morning and sunset views over the marina and sea, a true highlight.
- The bed was comfortable and offered a good night’s sleep after two days of long journeys (driving from Dubai) and activities in Oman.
- Wi-Fi was great, not that I was in the mood to get any work done- this was a weekend escape after all.
- Guests of Millennium Resort Mussanah can choose from five dining venues such as Mydan (local and international cuisine and incredible marina views), Al Bahar (fusion Moroccan, Indian and Far Eastern cuisine), Azure (Mediterranean and European cuisine), Compass Bar (maritime themed bar), and The Deck (poolside lounge), as well as a Shisha lounge.
- During our two nights, we dined on Mediterranean cuisine at Azure, feasting on fresh salads, stuffed vine leaves, hot and cold appetizers, seafood specialties such as shrimp, calamari, fish, and mussels, crispy wood-fired thin-crust pizzas, pasta, and risotto, followed by a delicious cheesecake and chocolate cake.
- Everything that we tried at Azure was delicious and the food here was one of the highlights of our stay. The service was friendly as well with staff making excellent recommendations.
- The breakfast spread at Mydan was generous with a variety of juices, cold cuts, mezze, smoked salmon, cheeses, fresh fruits, salads, breads, pastries, hot dishes like beans, sausages, Indian breakfast dishes and a live station to have your eggs made to order.
Whether your idea of the perfect getaway is relaxing in a swimming pool (choose from five pools including adults only, kids and family pools), lazing on the beach, squealing in excitement as you zipline over the resort, go snorkeling or diving in the clear waters of the Gulf of Oman, or exploring Omani cities, forts and markets, Millennium Resort Mussanah has got you covered. Oh, and let’s not forget the spa.
Ziplining at Millennium Resort Mussanah
Ziplining was my absolute favorite thing to do at Millennium Resort Mussanah. There’s a dual line that runs over the resort and once on the zipline, you’re just zipping across over the pools and mini-golf course, legs dangling and all!
While I’m afraid of heights, I love ziplining for the thrill- it isn’t as crazy as bungee jumping (I could never) but it’s still super fun. I even made a video of it, watch it below.
Aqua Fun Waterpark
You might think that Aqua Fun, the resort’s floating waterpark is just for kids, but as Ankit will gladly attest, that is not true. The floating obstacle course is actually pretty tough to do even for adults, because the entire structure is floating and you have nothing to hold on to. So if you’re good at balancing, then you’ll probably be good at this.
Of course, if you fall, you get some of that salty seawater in your mouth and eyes, but other than that, it looks like a lot of fun.
Watersports at the Dive Center
The resort offers watersports, snorkeling, kayaking, sailing and scuba diving through its SeaOman Dive Center that takes divers to one of the most beautiful dive sites in Oman at Damaniyat Island.
- We much appreciated the resort’s Zayna Spa after a full day of sightseeing and activities. I suggest arriving early so you can use the wet facilities such as the Jacuzzi.
- It’s good to know that all of the spa’s facilities including the wet facilities are separate for both men and women. However, there is a couples’ suite, as well as a Hammam and ladies relaxation lounge.
- The spa session begins with a consultation, followed by your treatment that you can choose from a range of body and facial treatments such as the Mussanah Sea Detox Wrap and Volcano Black Moor Mud Back Treatment.
- I went with a reflexology massage that focused on my aching back (blame hours of writing on my laptop), and it was wonderful. I felt both relaxed and rejuvenated.
- Afterwards, I was invited to enjoy a cup of tea in the lounge.
Muscat City Tour
Despite two recent visits to Oman, mostly to go hiking and camping in other parts of the country, it had been years that I hadn’t visited Muscat. So when the resort arranged a tour of some of the main sights in Muscat, I was very pleased.
Muscat is about an 80-minute drive from Millennium Resort Mussanah, so it’s an easy day trip. We visited the grounds of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and the Royal Opera House in Muscat, both of which were closed to visitors that Friday.
A lovely hour was spent wandering around at the Muttrah Souk, a labyrinth of alleys branching off in different directions under a timbered roof where shops sell silver Omani khanjars, frankincense, oud, Turkish lamps, traditional dresses and caps, colorful patterned Indian clothing, and all manner of souvenirs.
Walking through here on a sleepy Friday afternoon, with a marked and refreshing lack of hustling characteristic of souks elsewhere, made me realize how Oman is vastly different from its touristy neighbor. Here, Omani women examined patterned fabrics, a shopkeeper carefully wiped the dust off glass lamps, an Indian woman posed for photos in traditional Omani attire, complete with camera crew, and salesmen occasionally motioned to their wares- pashmina scarves and jewelry.
After a quick stroll down the Muttrah Corniche, we made a brief stop at Al Alam Palace, the palace of Sultan Qaboos that has been built over two centuries and stands proudly in Old Muscat.
Our tour of Muscat ended with an incredible lunch at Kargeen, a restaurant housed in what feels like a traditional home, complete with a cozy garden area, dressed in bright patterned cushions and rugs, and an elegant indoor area with wrought iron finishes and fine tableware.
There’s both a buffet serving delicious local cuisine (think flavorful Samak Harra and lamb biryani) and an a la carte menu with both local and international dishes. A must-try specialty here is the Omani shuwa, a dish of slow-cooked lamb wrapped in banana leaf served with rice, ghee, and a tomato sauce.
If you’re interested in a culturally immersive experience in Oman, ask the resort about arranging a Zayr Experience. Here you can choose from different types of food experiences that include dining in a local’s home, taking cooking classes to learn how to prepare Omani food, and a local food tour that involves visiting a local market, learning to cook and enjoying a meal in an Omani home. Other experiences include learning how to make rose water, extract olive oil, and make halwa; all from Omanis keen to share their culture with visitors.
There are other forts to explore around the area such as the Rustaq & Nakhal Fort, the Hajar Mountains, and Mussanah Fort, as well as a local fish market.
Who It’s For
Millennium Resort Mussanah is best suited to families and groups, and couples who would enjoy a stay that isn’t overly quiet. The wide range of activities focused on young guests and active travelers means that weekends are very popular and busy. This is exactly the kind of place for guests who enjoy doing fun activities but don’t necessarily want to leave the resort- a sort of destination within a destination.
That is not to say that you cannot relax- between the many pools, beach, spa, and snorkeling, there are ample opportunities to get away from the hectic pace of city life and do nothing, if you so wish.
For UAE residents looking for an easy getaway that does not need dealing with visa and flights and elaborate planning, Millennium Resort Mussanah offers a great option at a very agreeable price point.
If you’re arriving in Oman by air, then it takes an hour’s drive from the Muscat International Airport to get to Millennium Resort Mussanah.
Alternatively, you can also drive from Dubai to Mussanah; the driving time only is about four hours. Also account for additional time at the UAE-Oman border crossing in Hatta, that can get very busy during weekends and public holidays. The total journey took us about seven hours while going from Dubai to Mussanah by road, but was relatively quicker on the way back.
Check if you’re eligible for Oman e-visa and make sure you have it before you arrive to avoid delays.
Book your stay or know more at Millennium Resort Mussanah.
We stayed as guests of Millennium Resort Mussanah Oman. All opinions, as always, are honest and independent