A Staycation at Sundus Rotana Hotel in Muscat, Oman - a drive from Abu Dhabi.






My daughter and I recently visited Sundus Rotana Hotel in Muscat. Incredibly, it is Muscat's first Rotana property. As we are live in Abu Dhabi, we had the choice of flying or driving. Thanks to her adventurous spirit, we decided to drive there - after all, it is the journey that teaches us most about ourselves, isn't it?

The Drive

Online sites say it is a 5 hour drive from Abu Dhabi to Muscat. That is probably possible if you drive non stop. Our drive, including trying to exit the UAE at the wrong border post was more like 7 hours. But we did not mind. We had a good music playlist and Mitsuki had a gripping book with her. We left the capital around 9am - we overslept. I would recommend leaving around 6am. A Friday morning is actually a great time to go. Once we got the border right, everything on both sides was very efficient. 

The drive is quite a picturesque one - no pictures as I was more focused on driving but there are moments of breathtaking scenery. It is definitely worth the drive. On a side note, the anticipated heavy trucks on the road did not materialise, making for an even more pleasant drive.



Taken by Mitsuki!


Arrival

We arrived around 15h30, when . brunch was already underway. The first thing I noticed was our check in was handled smoothly by an excellent front desk team, full of smiles and anecdotes. However, eager to get something to eat, we headed straight for the brunch, while our luggage was sent to our room. 

Brunch

Brunch is served in the hotel's very light and bright all day dining restaurant, Ginger. I am surprised. Honestly, I expected a standard buffet with a few extras but I like what they have done. It is hard to believe that the restaurant is actually quite small but the spread is really ambitious. 





The Seafood station is quite a generous one, with basically almost everything you would expect at a  a brunch. Don't be fooled by the smallish oysters. They are actually quite fleshy and when an oyster is nicely shucked, you cannot go wrong with that. There is also a Grill station inside that is complemented by an outdoor BBQ station. The former has a generous beef selection, including Ribeye and tenderloin. 





With Teatro, the signature restaurant of the hotel, it is not surprising that the brunch offers an excellent selection of sashimi and sushi. Make sure to have a plateful of both! But there is also the ever reliable Pasta station, with a choice of three types of pasta. Finally, another favourite of mine on the day, the Taste of India station, with everyone's favourite Indian dish, Butter chicken offered alongside Dal Makhni and Naan. I am not even mentioning the Asian Wok and  Carvery stations as well as other traditional brunch staples like the salad bar, mezze and other cold starters. It really is a lot of food. 





Something in terms of service they have done really well is to have chefs all around the restaurant, ensuring a very personalised brunch experience. In fact, service is sharp and alert. I observed a table with a birthday celebration for a group of ten. There drinks were topped up periodically, plates removed and cutlery changed without prompting. However, I must mention restaurant manager Devesh who typifies the spirit of service on the floor - he leads by example and gets his hands dirty if necessary. He is the type of manager so suited to all day dining with its eclectic guest profile because he is able to think on his feet and understands that sometimes guests have needs that require thinking outside the box. Seek him out on your visit. 



Finally, the drinks selection d a good one. Firstly, I was thrilled to see champagne as part of the top tier package. Besserat champagne is a decent bubbly for a brunch and supports the price point very well. Furthermore, there is a choice of cocktails and a greater choice of wines than for the midrange package. Speaking of the latter, it has its own sparkle with Prosecco. Finally, the Juice bar is an absolute highlight. A choice of fruits allow you to have a freshly squeezed glass of juice. I do recommend beetroot and green apple with celery - but the cool thing about this is you can try out different combos and you can watch them make it. 




Our room


The hotel has 215 rooms and suites, including their most sought after club rooms, very much a Rotana feature, offering its hotel within a hotel concept. However, we were in a classic room, with all the usual amenities you would expect. The floor to ceiling windows were my favourite feature of the room while the soothing earthy tones were a close second!






Recreation

Bodylines, Rotana's signature fitness and wellness concept, is also housed at Sundus. The gym is fully equipped and in addition to steam rooms, there is also an outdoor swimming pool,  where we spent most of our time. I am pleased that for the duration of our stay, lifeguards remained on duty. It frustrates me when high end hotels shirk responsibility by putting up signs informing guests that there is no lifeguard on duty. 



It was our lucky day when we saw the Palestinian Football team prepare for their upcoming match against Oman in the gym. It is hopefully a moment that Mitsuki will be telling her friends about. 





Finer Dining
Teatro

Teatro, the hotel's signature restaurant, is a must visit, not just on your hotel stay, but on your visit to Muscat. Why? There is simply nothing like this in Muscat.  The broad menu ensures that there is, as the cliche goes, something for all. However, enjoy the restaurant's aesthetic appeal too. The iconography adds to the sense of drama and theatre, without being kitschy!



The key for Teatro is how believable it is as a concept that makes you feel you are going to be entertained, that you are going out; to the theatre. On the ground floor is a red carpet leading to an elevator that takes you exclusively to the restaurant. Red is the colour motif of the restaurant, a colour that hits you square on as the hostess, elegantly clad in a red one piece,  greets as the elevator opens. The show is about to begin.


For those not familiar with the concept, the expansive menu features Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Italian and Indian dishes. If none of these satisfy your craving, there are dishes with more international  flavour also available. Our choice of dishes reflected that diversity on the menu. Mitsuki started with the Mixed Asian platter, with samosas, Wasabi prawn tempura and Duck spring rolls. I started with the Burrata, classically done but with the addition of caper tapenade that adds a bit of flavour to the usually mild flavoured burrata!

For a full review of our experience at Rotana's 5th Teatro in the MIddle East, read here: Teatro at Sundus Rotana



Stepping out of the hotel

On our second day we drove to one of the recommended beaches that is about 25 minutes from the hotel, Al Qurum Beach. We quite enjoyed our drive to the beach. The roads are developed, clean but beware of the speed limits. It is lower than the UAE, for example, so stay alert. 

The beach itself is not that developed. By that I mean it is quite unspoiled and has not been overrun with casual American dining restaurants, a euphemism for junk food outlets. There is very much still a purity about it. A secret joy for me was the absence of a lifeguard blowing an annoying whistle to stop people from having fun as they wade into water! Mitsuki saw a coconut, intact, wash up on the beach. This was quite a catch for a city girl. What did we then do? We broke it open of course and enjoyed it. A real father-daughter moment. 



Our time was much too short because no trip to Muscat should be without time dedicated to sightseeing. Mitsuki and I are admittedly  a city dad and daughter pair and that may account for the fact that we spent most of our time at the hotel. However, even she asked as we drove to Muscat: "Dad, why is Oman so beautiful?" We decided that another trip in the Summer would be the perfect way to explore that question deeper. But we will both remember that it was Sundus Rotana with its warm hospitality that opened the possibilities of Muscat and Oman to us. It all started with a smile from the heart as we arrived at check-in and ended with a smile from the heart as we got into our car for the drive back to Abu Dhabi. 


Essentials

Sundus Rotana Hotel
Al Maardish Street
Muscat
+968 24 511800


Friday Brunch

Date: Every Friday
Time: 12.30 pm to 4.00 pm.
Price: 
OMR 18* including soft beverages
OMR 28* including alcoholic beverages
OMR 38* including bubbly 
Kids under 5 dine for free and 
Kids aged 6 to 12 less 50% 


Brandon Stoltenkamp
https://www.facebook.com/mitsukiemma1
Disclaimer: I had this experience courtesy of the hotel. 

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