The Chedi garden with ponds, palm trees and fountains.
Same by night
Same by night
It is dark and I am walking through the large scenic hotel garden. The dim light and the faint rustling sound of the many fountains in the ponds  give it a tranquil atmosphere. It is still humid and warm, mid thirties.
I rest on a couch on a terrace outside the lounge and watch the red flames curling up from the burning charcoal in the transparent glass bowl. This hotel is like a museum of modern art.
The Chedi, a large pond with palm trees by night.
DHM Hotels, see http://www.ghmhotels.com/ is a chain of luxurious resort hotels in Asia. Best known are two hotels on Bali, the Legian and the Club at the Legian, and on the Malaysian island of Langkawi, the Datai and the Adaman. Their target audience is the high end luxury tourist market. Rooms are 400-500 dollars per night for a double but you can get a better deal if you book a package deal.
For the past 10 years there is a trend to build well designed resort hotels for the high end tourist market. They feature prominently in travel magazines and advertise their exclusiveness. Designed with natural colours, space, panoramic views, a large garden, quietness, discrete and friendly personnel and healthy, food gives it a perfect mix for spoiled tourists used to the comfort of 5 star business hotels but seeking the tranquility of a private resort. The more remote, the less expensive these hotels are but you may have to travel 24 hours.
E.g. the Empire Hotel in Brunei on the Island of Borneo is only US $200 per night for a double room but from Europe it is a 20 hour trip. It even has a masters golf course which is hardly used.
Another trend are the stylish hotels in large cities. E.g. The Dylan Hotel in Amsterdam.
This is a small and luxurious hotel on the Keizersgracht with rooms in different styles and is formerly known as Blakes. Prices are 1000-1500 Euros a night, even higher than the well-known Amstel Hotel. If I was a movie star like George Clooney shooting a movie in Amsterdam I would have stayed at The Dylan and not the Amstel Hotel.
In Dubai there is the Burj Al Arab hotel, the building in the shape of a sail. Prices are around US $800 per night. It is popular for the Western expats to stay here often managing to get a better price. Travel agents in the UK also give good deals.
Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai.
Muscat has three majestic hotels for the high end business traveler and tourist market, the Al Bustan Palace, the Hyatt and The Chedi. I personally prefer the tranquil atmosphere of The Chedi but the other two also have a grandeur.
The Al Bustan Palace is South-East of Muscat on the coast and isolated surrounded low mountain ridges. The main building is a high dome with typical Arab white and light blue tiles. It has a very large private garden and is said to have good diving on the rocky parts of the coast.
The Hyatt Hotel terrace by night with the gas torches.
The Hyatt is built in the style of a Sahara safari hotel. It has a dominantly Arab or perhaps Yemenite style mixed in with African features like numerous sculptures of wild African animals and Arabian horse men .
It was built by an impoverished Yemenite Prince who found a ship treasure in The Gulf that carried cash money and was sunk by a German U-boat in 1944. Unfortunately, he went broke when building the hotel and I can see why, his taste was royal.
The buffet of the Mokka restaurant is excellent, especially the salad bar . The problem remains overeating on the fish, meat and deserts and you better focus at the salad bar.
At night, the garden is lit by two rows of torches. It all looks nice but they garden is not very inviting for walking as it is dominated by the pools .
The beach boulevard is much nicer. There is a palm-lined walk-way of 2-3 km leading to the Intercontinental and this has a few local cafes. At night it is busy with walking Omanis, men and women. Despite being dark at night, there is zero fear for being mugged not only by the local men but also the women who often go out unaccompanied by men..
The beach is wide and there is usually a strong warm breeze from the warm Arabian Sea. The flood-line is excellent for jogging. My favorite route leads from the Hyatt to past the Intercontinental Hotel, till the Al Qurm mangrove forest bridge, 3 km one way. Along the way, you pass numerous soccer games, encouraging public. From 3-6 PM there are some 200 young men playing on the wide beach.
The Chedi, entrance
The Chedi is North of the Al Ghubbrah roundabout but is easier to find using the road that runs parallel to the highway from the Hyatt along the ministries. There is a large sign on the road indicating the hotel entrance but the buildings are 500 m from the road and all you see is a low white wall that surrounds a square km large empty area with white building in the distance.
The Chedi, traditional costume of the bell man.
The main entrance has a pond with large rough stones  and reeds. Very Feng-Shui, I am told.
Entrance with pond and large boulders.
The reception and the main hall are very special as if entering a posh private home with a flavor of a church or mosque.
The Chedi, reception.
The Chedi, main hall
Unlike the Hyatt or the Al Bustan Palace I felt at home right away in the Chedi. Spacious, tranquil, nice relax lounges, a library with nature books, a large, nicely designed garden for an evening walk, and most importantly, discrete guests you hardly notice. This is very different in the Hyatt and Al Bustan which can be noisy when they fill up in the tourists seasons with package tourists.
The Chedi is said to be a Feng-Shui designed hotel, see e.g. . Possibly, this makes the difference.
I tend to invite the local people, mostly colleagues I visit, to The Chedi for a dinner on the terrace and a garden stroll. They always appreciate this as they are often not aware of the existence of such a nice garden in the dry and rocky region of Muscat.
At night the charcoal fires in the bowls  are fascinating to watch and very relaxing. In 2004, they were still using glass bowls with a few large square pieces of charcoal put on top of each other like a small pyramid. The see-through at the burning square blocks was mysterious. A year later, in 2005 I only saw the gray granite bowls.
Last year I bought souvenirs in the tourist shop. It has fine goods typical for South-East Asia, mostly Indonesian, with clothes dominating. A young French girl was still working there.
Breakfast in the weekend is enjoyable on the restaurant terrace outside . In late April it can be already warm in the morning, around 36 C. Most guest stay inside but I tend to enjoy a very slow breakfast with the daily newspaper, the Oman Observer, which has reasonable news from around the world although mostly very educating or little opinionated.
The local expat community in Muscat tends to head for the restaurant to the right of the main hall    , rarely staying in the hotel given the steep price of over 200 Euros but they have weekend deals for locals. The terrace  of the restaurant has limited space and needs to be booked a few days ahead of time.
Main garden walkway through the main pond
The garden is most special by the palm trees   , fountains, ponds , walkways, fountains   , brown vases   and desert plants  . I got a similar feeling as in the summer palace in Beijing, nature dominates over people.
Walking at night in the dimly lit garden is like meditating, you hear the rustling sound of fountains and you let your thoughts flow. Very pieceful.
The Chedi, bungalow rooms by night.
Vases, jars, fireplaces and sticks
Sticks in a jar.
The Chedi, large wooden vases. In 2004, a kitten was hiding in the middle vase.
There are two pools, one in the main garden and one near the sea.
The pool in the main garden has a sheltered terrace  and covered lounge areas for groups of 4-6 people. Children are not allowed in the seaside pool.
When swimming in the sea pool you have the feeling that the water is continuous with the sea as the water flows over the edge of the pool. The toilets are again special, with a stick guarding the entrance .
The Chedi, sea pool
The Chedi, vase at the sea pool, overlooking the sea.
The Chedi, garden pool by night.
The rooms have a simple design, with a dark stone floor, white walls and dark brown furniture. Some Europeans may find it too simple when used to plush Victorian rooms. There are also bungalows  in the garden which are larger.
In 2004 I had a room overlooking the garden pool. The corridor of my room was in open connection with the outside air and a few mosquitoes got into my room at night, attracted by the light below the door. Many rooms are inside and next time I would take an inside room as April is can be a mosquito season.
The Chedi, standard room.
Staying in The Chedi feels like living in a private museum of modern art but without the paintings. I recommend it highly, one of the top hotels in the world, like the other GHM Hotels.
Ponds with trees.
Pool at the main building.
Walk way on the beach.
Walk way on the beach.
Fish restaurant on the beach.
Fish restaurant on the beach.
Walk way neat the main building.
Near the restaurant, shelter with ponds.
Bowl of fire.
Terrace, main dining area.
The pool with Ali.
The pool with Ali, Ahmed and Jean.
Fish restaurant on the beach with Ali, Ahmed and Jean.
Fish restaurant on the beach, whale vertebra bones.
Fish restaurant on the beach, wine glas, unfinished.