French-Moroccan architect and principle of Atelier Pod Lotfi Sidirahal wanted the hotel to reflect the traditional Omani culture and local architecture, paying special attention to the decorative details, use of materials and construction methods. The studio was chosen to work on both the interior design and the architecture of the resort, after being shortlisted among 10 other internationally recognised design companies. Sidirahal and his team spent time visiting the area before coming up with the final design, which included talking to the mountain communities and re-drawing the architectural and landscape details of Birkat al Mawz and the Jabreen fort.
‘We designed the entrance with the idea of a fort in mind,’ Sidirahal explains. ‘The exterior, with its great wooden doors, impressively showcases commanding strength. There is a dramatic contrast upon entry as the interior gives a delicate and voluptuous impression with a majestic open courtyard featuring lush green terraces and a falaj.’
The substantial 24,000m² luxury resort has 115 rooms and villas that overlook the dramatic canyon or gardens, plus six restaurants and lounges. There’s also a spa featuring falaj-inspired canals, which respond to the Omani tradition of integrating the ancient water channel system with cleansing spaces, plus jacuzzis, daybeds and hammocks for relaxation.
The interiors have been designed to be a harmonious blend of timelessness and elegance while reincarnating the local culture with warm, rich colours and finishing touches from local suppliers including artisan pottery, arabesque lanterns and nature-inspired artwork.
No less than 80 pieces of bespoke furniture were made by Atelier Pod to furnish the resort. According to Sidirahal, these are ‘contemporary interpretations of traditional Omani design’, which were inspired by architectural details such as local door frames, ancient ceilings and traditional chests. As Sidirahal puts it: ‘We tried to continue the Omani design DNA by inventing the missing genes.’
When guests enter the lobby, they are greeted by an impressive 10-metre geodesic dome with a peaceful fountain beneath it. Heading through to the courtyard, which is at the heart of the resort, an impressive vista towards the mountains beyond sets the scene for this central space that also brings together a souk, coffee shop and library.
One of the highlights of the resort is influenced by ancient Omani keeps, due to its conical shape but is contemporary by design. Here, guests can enjoy an early evening drink in the lounge before heading to a speciality restaurant for dinner. Afterwards, the observation tower serves as a romantic spot for star-gazing before heading back to one of the luxury suites.
This isn’t the first time the French firm Atelier Pod has collaborated with Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spa – the company has also completed projects in Marrakech and Essaouira.