Review: The Shangri-La Barr al Jissah Resort and Spa, Muscat, Oman


For our first visit to Oman, we were looking for a nice beach resort in order to base ourselves from in order to relax and explore the area. The Shangri-La Barr al Jissah was a spectacular location from which to spend a few days. While it was a true destination resort in its location, we were able to get off property several times between relaxing on the beach.

This post is one chapter on our second Round the World trip via Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Poland. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) loyalty programs. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Hotel Review: The Shangri-La Barr al Jissah Resort and Spa, Muscat, Oman

“The Shangri-La Barr al Jissah is naturally and beautifully set in the Khors of Oman, between mountains and against turtle coves where excellent opportunities present for snorkelling”

This post is about our stay at The Shangri-La Barr al Jissah Resort and Spa. You are invited to see these posts our experiences touring the Darkness Muttrah Souq at Muscat, Oman or Snorkelling with Turtles at Bandar Jissah near Yiti Beach, Oman.

Booking and Getting there:

We were looking for a nice place to stay but also wanted to take advantage of the beautiful Oman scenery. I did some research between the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and The Chedi. We decided on the Shangri La, thanks to its natural beauty and setting. We were not disappointed and really enjoyed our stay here. 

Since Shangri La didn’t offer much incentive to book through their booking channels, and a rather pathetic 1,500 frequent flyer miles on a flat rate to be earned through their Shangri La Golden Circle program for this reservation, we ended up looking elsewhere. We ended up booking through online travel provider Rocketmiles who offered 11,000 Aeroplan miles for this booking (2,250 points per night) and a 3,000 point promotional first time booking bonus. 

The Shangri La hotel offers three different hotel experiences within one general resort compound. 

Al-Waha – family hotel. Rates starting at: 140 OMR ($360 USD) per night w/ breakfast.
Al-Bandar – business hotel: Rates starting at: 160 OMR ($415 USD) per night w/ breakfast.
Al-Husn – luxury hotel: Rates starting at: 212 OMR ($550 USD) per night w/ breakfast. 

I did note that the rates went down quite considerably (as much as 35%) the closer to the booking. All the rooms in the lower categories were eventually sold out on our visit. I booked a refundable rate and locked in at the lower rate when it became available. The rates were also lower in the heat of the high summer. 

The Shangri La Barr al Jissah hotel is located about 50 kilometres away from the Muscat International Airport. It’s situated on the coast line of the Gulf of Oman.

Instead of the hotel car service, we opted for a taxi to the hotel. I pre-paid 15 OM Ryals ($42 USD) for a 1 hour taxi to the Shangri La. We received a driver in a Toyota Camry who was a bit of a lead foot aling with a lead brake.

Four Lane Highways in Muscat

Surprising infrastructure for Oman. I certainly wasn’t expecting 4 lane highways along with fabulous views.

Sea Side Highways
White Houses Dot the Hilly Countryside

It was a beautiful drive in and we were looking forward to a great stay at the Shangri La Oman Barr Al Jissah Resort. After an easy 1 hour drive, we arrived to the resort.

Arriving to the Hotel:

On arrival at noon, it was clearly not the time to arrive at a hotel. Many people were at reception checking out. Many were destination tourists such as grandma and grandpa kettles and had their packages booked through tour operators. This made for a slower process at the reception counter. Some photos of the Al – Waha lobby after the masses had left. 

Lobby of Shangri-La Al Waha
Lobby of Shangri-La Al Waha Reception Desks

A neat local feature, Frankincense, the spice most commonly traded in Oman, was usually found burning in the lobby…

Frankincense burning in the lobby

The Room: Al Waha – Superior Room King

Our room was not ready on arrival so we changed into swimwear and headed to the beach for the day. They asked for our cell number and indicated that they would call when the room was ready. Of course, the call never arrived, highlighting a trend here in the Middle East. I think this was as a result of dealing with a sheer volume of guests. 

After the day at the beach, we moved into room #3439 on the top floor. Our bags were already in the room on arrival to the suite. I would have thought buying through a third party travel vendor like Rocket Miles would have given us the room next to the ice machine or the elevator shaft but we thankfully ended up on the top floor with a peek a boo ocean view. 

Hallways of the Al Waha

The room was nicely decorated for a standard room.

Al Waha – Superior Room King
Al Waha – King Superior

A mini bar was also available. The resort was not all inclusive, so items from the mini bar were on a pay basis. Water was provided complimentary.

An In Room Mini-Bar
Mini Bar and Coffee Snacks (Shells and Granola Bars not included)

The room offered a spacious bathroom. While on the standard size, we didn’t find it to be all too small or constrictive.

A clean and spacious bathroom

Room with a View:

The room offered a small outdoor balcony. The small deck space had two seating chairs.  It had a terrific view.

A Small Outdoor Balcony
A Resort Set into the Mountains
An Ocean View

Around the Khors of the Resort:

The real star of this resort is the scenery of the khors (rocky inlets) that the hotel is situated in. The resort is situated in one of the only commercially developed Khors of Oman. Staying here made for an beautiful experience. 

Resort Situated in the Khors of Oman
Resort Walkways
Beach Chairs at Shangri-La Barr al Jissah Resort
Mountain Drop Backgrounds

There were outdoor pools available if the ocean wasn’t your thing, or perhaps you were traveling with your family.

Al Waha Outdoor Pools

Exploring the Resort Walkways:

The resort offered a few pathways along the beach on top of the sea wall. These pathways took you along to the hidden cover of Turtle Beach inside a shallow, and the natural arch. The pathways were not long enough to have an exercise run on, but were pleasant enough for a short walk in between sun tanning.

Pathways set into the Khors of Oman
Resort Walkways
Resort Walkways
Resort Lawn

The trails eventually led to the natural archway found at the point of the resort, between many of the turtle beach nesting locations.

The Natural Archway
The Archway
The Beaches in the Coves

The “On Resort” Turtle Beach:

The Shangri-La Barr al Jissah Resort and Spa has a hidden turtle beach on the resort. It’s flanked by the Al Husn hotel on top of the photo. The beach was roped off, although there were no turtle eggs on this particular beach on our visit. Several visitors were seen taking a dip here. The resort has a turtle conservationist on site. Several areas of the beach were roped off in a small circle to protect hatching sites. 

Turtle Beach
Hidden Watery Coves

The Resort Beach:

The beach itself was split into two areas; the beach area and the grass area. For some reason, the loungers on the beach itself (on the sand) have no cushions on them. The loungers on the grass offered comfortable padding with good cushions.

I don’t know why there is this distinction but this led to a race of people saving chairs for later use during the day. On one day when we arrived at 12:30 PM, there were no padded chairs to be had. We got a bit sharper on the rest of the trip.

The beach itself was not anything special. Rather, it was special, but not as special as the price per night at the hotel. It had quite a few shells on it and wasn’t a beach with fine sand similar to the Maldives or Ko Phi Phi Don in Thailand. We stayed the majority of the time on the grass area, listening to the waves and enjoying the scenery.

Padded Loungers on the Resort Lawn
Views of the Resort
Beach Views
A Sandy Resort Beach

Food and Beverage:

With the Shangri La- Barr al Jissah being a full resort property, the dining options off resort are limited. We enjoyed dinner on property each and every night.

MrsWT73 was able to stock up on Middle Eastern Snacks. While the dining was enjoyable, it wasn’t all that memorable. I’d attribute this to volume through the property which is a lot of people in the high hundreds.

Outdoor Dining
Arabic Mezze Snacks with Pita

After a great stay, the time came to check out. The night before the front desk proactively called our room to determine if there were any problems with our stay and to arrange or confirm taxi transfers. This was a nice touch.

At check out, the hotel pro-actively enrolled me in their reward program Shangri – La Golden Circle. I assumed that booking through Rocket Miles rate would not earn points but turns out we earned points on the food and beverage portion of the stay. To get back to the Muscat International Airport, we booked a public taxi to the airport through the front desk at the cost of 15 OMR ($38 USD). 

After 4 days on the property, “nature’s broom” hit me like no tomorrow. I regretfully have to report that it was likely from the food or beverage from the Shangri-La hotel. I am confident is saying this as I did not any food off property for the entire 4 day stay. I suspected the foul medames that I indulged in at breakfast the morning that I left. There is something extra undignified about being sick while traveling. 

I later wrote the Food and Beverage Manager surrounding this circumstance. He took note of the information but assured me by email that no other cases had been reported and that the food and beverage outlets in the hotel were HACCP certified. I was satisfied with this response and would chalk up the circumstance to bad luck. I wouldn’t let my experience deter you from staying here. I’d easily return.

My Thoughts on The Shangri-La Barr al Jissah:

Generally, the Al Waha side was full of kids. Al Bandar side was more adult. We took all our meals on the Al Waha side. Overall, I thought it was a great resort for kids. 

If you were looking for exclusivity and privacy, then you’d need to book on the Al Husn side. It’s completely walled off from the other two resorts (including the beach access) where as you can pass freely between Al Waha and Al Bandar. As noted, our room over looked the family pool, although this was pretty quiet after 7 PM. 

This particular resort isn’t the place for peace and serenity. There were large lines at buffet breakfast, which was included at any resort restaurant serving breakfast in our rate. The wait staff were primarily Asian which I found to be unusual for other Middle East resorts. We were recommended to make dinner reservations on some evenings. One staffer told us that there were over 1,000 guests on the property on one evening.

Overall, I enjoyed the beach get away. The setting of the resort was fabulous and memorable. We also enjoyed our visits to Muscat and on our snorkelling trip.

One Comment on “Review: The Shangri-La Barr al Jissah Resort and Spa, Muscat, Oman

  1. WHAT A Disgusting hotel.
    Worse service I’ve ever had.
    Not recommend this place at all.
    Shangri-La hotel in Oman, Muscat.


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