Oman part 2

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Pool and Al Fahal Wing

The Grand Hyatt Muscat is a large property with two wings, four restaurants, and a very nice Grand Club that has plenty of seating both inside and out.  Thanks to our diamond membership status, we enjoyed unlimited access to the Grand Club during our stay and we mostly stayed on property so we took full advantage of this during the weekend.  The evening spread was more than substantial with warm dishes, cheeses, vegetables, and desserts.  They also offered a full selection of spirits, wine, and bottled beer in addition to a large selection of soft drinks.  For breakfast, the lounge had a top-notch continental selection of fruits, pastries, cheeses, and yogurts/cereals (but no hot options).  The fourth floor lounge was well furnished and warmly decorated. There were two indoor dining areas, one living room with bookshelves and a television, and an outdoor rooftop patio that featured a beautiful view of the mountains and sea.  The staff members in the lounge were consistently friendly, helpful, and efficient to clear tables and restock food and drinks.

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Grand Club Entrance

We dined at the Indonesian inspired poolside restaurant for lunch on Friday and quite enjoyed a relaxing meal while looking over the beach and pool.  The food was fresh, the menu offered a nice selection of dishes, but the prices are a bit high for lunch. The menu started around $20 per person without alcohol.  It is worth noting that the food and drink on property is expensive even by average hotel standards.  Food and beverage at hotel properties in Muscat (not as much outside of the capital) will be higher than average than most of the rest of the region.

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The beautiful lobby at the Muscat Grand Hyatt

The final diamond benefit we were able to enjoy was our Saturday late checkout.  Hyatt Gold Passport platinum members can get a 2:00 pm checkout while diamond members can stretch it all the way until 4:00 pm.  This has the potential to offer tremendous value especially for maximizing short trips such as ours. Instead of the typical 11:00 am or noon check-out we were able to enjoy another full morning and afternoon at the pool on Saturday and pushed our flight back to 8:30 pm as a result.  The original goal was to allow Teo to take a nap prior to checkout but on as is often the case, he had other plans.  We checked out at 4:00 pm and hailed a taxi back to the airport.

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Teo passed out in his stroller at the airport lounge

At the airport, we breezed through security then headed to the Plaza Premium lounge, which we were able to access with our Lounge Club cards that accompany the Ritz Carlton Visa credit card.  After a quick check in at reception, we found a quiet corner to set our luggage and park the stroller.  By the time we hit the lounge Matteo had fallen asleep in Jen’s arms and we laid him down in the stroller to rest.  The lounge was not the most updated or glamorous, especially by Middle Eastern standards (we were expecting much worse after reading some horrible reviews online), but it was spacious and offered a great alternative to hanging out in the terminal.  The lounge was about 50% full for the two and a half hours we visited and we enjoyed a light dinner and a few drinks before boarding.   The Muscat airport is quite old and small, and currently they are in the middle of building a new airport projected to open at the end of 2016.  The new airport will have the ability to handle 12 million passengers per year and will offer many more services, amenities, and conveniences in in an attempt to bring it up to par with the neighboring Gulf nations.

We left the lounge and made our way over to our terminal to board our flight back home.  As mentioned earlier, MCT is a small airport lacking in jet ways so this meant a short bus ride out to the tarmac to board the flight back to Abu Dhabi.  The whole boarding process from Oman Air was efficient and friendly even though it was a relatively late flight and it was completely booked.  We boarded and took off on time for a quick 45-minute flight back to Abu Dhabi which actually landed about 10 minutes ahead of schedule.  The last leg of our journey ensured that we went to get Jennifer and Teo’s entry permits attached to their passports through passport control so that we could complete the residency process.  The airport staff was great, and immigration actually went quicker than the standard passport control line since we had a dedicated line to confirm entry visa paperwork.  We touched down at about 9:40 and we cleared passport control, picked up the stroller from baggage claim, and grabbed a cab and were still home by 10:20 pm!
All in all, we had a wonderful weekend away in Muscat and could not have had more welcoming hosts than the Omanis.  The weather was perfect and the trip could not have been any easier from a logistics standpoint.  Oman often tops many lists of “off the beaten path” locations to travel and this is for good reason.  The city is relatively small, and feels much more like a large town in contrast to its fellow glitzy, ostentatious, and overwhelmingly big Gulf capital cities.  While we did not have much time to explore much of the city, Muscat offers beautiful hiking, diving, snorkeling, and has some beautiful Arabian historical sites to visit.  We will definitely want to return to Oman in the future to spend more time exploring this beautiful country and experiencing the authentic Arabian culture.

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