each february we take a beach trip. we use carefully collected hotel points to stay at awesome resorts for free and have lots of unstructured time for the kids to play. we are so lucky to be able to do this! it breaks up the grey, gloomy winter months in london and, unlike our other trips, it is a true vacation. most of our adventures around the world – exploring new places with the kids in tow – are not relaxing at all and we call them traveling. our february trip we call vacation. 🙂
this year we chose to visit the beaches of oman! there aren’t many places in europe that are really warm enough for a genuine beach vacation in february (last year we did tenerife – one of the canary islands, and it was woooonderful but not hot) so we decided to look into some destinations in the middle east even though going to that region requires quite a long flight from london. we found out there are a couple amazing resorts we could use our points at in oman and then got so excited about visiting this new-to-us country!
we had such a fabulous eight days in oman. i’m still dreaming about it! we did a little bit of exploring and really fell in love with the country, even with just a small taste. but mostly we just chiiiiillled and enjoyed the pool, beach, and breakfast buffet!! it was so awesome.
we spent our first two night at a hyatt right in the capital city of muscat. the pool there had a lazy river, which moses was obsessed with. it was so fun.
the view from our balcony down to the pool and beyond to the ocean!
the beach in front of the resort had soooo many birds on it and the boys loved chasing them on the sand!
moses started swimming lessons in january and on the lesson right before we left for oman i was shocked to see him be brave enough to put his head underwater and swim through a little tunnel, totally submerged. something about that totally broke him into water comfortability and he was a total fish during our trip – dunking under and jumping in and splashing around like crazy and totally fearlessly. (we had a lot of talks about water safety!) this little kids’ pool at the hyatt was heaven for the little mo!
after a morning of playing at the pool and beach, we drove to the harbour area in muscat where the souks (markets) are and spent the evening exploring all the shops. a colourful, lively market in a foreign place is one of my favourite things on earth, so i absolutely loved this!! (and ian and the boys did too!)
the cool elevator at the hotel ^^ and the view from the lounge patio at the hotel:
we spent the next six nights at a ritz carlton just outside of muscat. we got upgraded to an amazing suite with this view:
gosh, that resort is dreamy! i was tingling with so much excitement as i explored the grounds our first evening. i never wanted to leave!! and something about us paying nothing to stay there made it all ten times better, haha.
this is the lobby of the hotel! very grand.
breakfast buffets at nice hotels bring me a lot of joy. this was our gorgeous breakfast setting every morning:
the hotel gave the boys these stuffed camels and gabey is obsessed with his. his smile in these photos shows how we all felt relaxing and enjoying the resort for six days.
case in point: here’s moses showing how he felt about it all:
moses was nearly constantly asking us to toss him and flip him and dunk him in the pool. he had soooo much fun swimming!
the beach in front of the resort was really beautiful. and had sooo many cool shells on it – we made a really awesome shell collection together throughout our trip.
more breakfast joy:
one afternoon i got to go get a massage at the spa (this was a christmas gift from ian). it was divine. the spa was so pretty, the massage was heavenly, and there was a little private beach i got to go explore.
on that beach i found one of the coolest shells i’d seen yet. after carrying it around in my robe pocket for a little bit, i turned it around and realised it wasn’t just a shell!
i was sooo excited to show moses and gabriel photos and videos of this little hermit crab!
here’s what they were up to with daddy while i was relaxing at the spa:
more swimming fun – that’s gabe and i far in the background. gabriel was about as unenthused about the water as moses was enthused – ha! by the very end of the trip he got a little more comfortable, but most of the time he just preferred to stay dry.
gabe discovered a deeeeep love for ketchup during our poolside lunches. and for elephants from all the times we passed the shopping arcade in the hotel that led to the pool – there were about six of these big sculptures in the windows and gabey was sooo excited about them every time.
we had some free drink vouchers and ian took gabriel down to the pool bar to pick them up for us a few times while i stayed with moses in the room, having a post-swim warm bath!
even more breakfast joy:
attempting a cute photo of the boys together at the beach 🙂
one day we arranged for a babysitter to watch the boys at the kids’ club/playground area and had a date – afternoon tea in the opulent lobby atrium. when we checked in they gave us a voucher for free afternoon tea so we were excited to use it!
in lieu of tea, we ordered mocktails (one of ian and my mutual loves) and enjoyed some beautifully presented sandwiches, scones and treats – in our swimsuits fresh from the pool 😉
our big excursion outside of the resort was a drive to the bimmah sinkhole about an hour and a half away. i was the driver on this trip (ian was waiting for his renewed drivers license to arrive in the mail) and so i didn’t get to take pictures of the amazing, unique scenery. somehow we ended up on a dirt road through a narrow canyon for part of the drive and that was an adventure! the mountains in oman are so cool!
and the sinkhole was pretty spectacular to see.
mo swam in the water with me for a bit but then joined gabriel to enjoy snacks on the sidelines 😉
we tried really hard to attend church in muscat. when we finally found where the branch of the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints meets (in a random room in a random hotel), a sign was on the door saying they were meeting somewhere else for the time being! we tried to find that other place but couldn’t in the maze of streets close to the souks. we were sad to miss gathering with others of our faith. we saw lots of cool things in our search – beautiful tiled mosques, turret fortifications on mountaintops, whitewashed neighbourhoods – and i did a really bad job taking pictures!
back at the resort the next day,
we were thrilled to see that the waterslides / kids’ pool had reopened after being under construction during the first four days of our stay. this setup was absolute heaven for moses, and gabriel even got quite excited about splashing in the shallowest part of the pool (not going down the slides!).
here’s a photo that shows part of the “family aqua land.” in addition to the waterslides and splash pad, there were two playgrounds, an indoor play area, and a zipline!
occasionally while we were playing at the big pool, someone would come along with little snacks or a little fruit ice lolly! the boys were thrilled.
gabriel’s spot at the big pool – plopping in rocks onto the steps 🙂
one day moses and i walked down the beach to check out the neighboring fishing village and on the way we saw wild camels! it was beyond exciting.
walking back to the resort:
yeah, we had a pretty good time 🙂 oman is a very cool country that we are so glad we were able to visit, and our time at the resorts was so sunny, renewing, fun and dreamy. it was an epic family vacation.
This looks just lovely! I know your husband kindly did a long post in the past about how he tracks/uses your hotel points and airline miles. I cannot seem to locate it though. Would you be willing to share the link here? Our son (who also works in finance!) is very interested in how Ian makes this work! Thank you!
Yes, I’d LOVE to see what updated info Ian has on points stuff. So many things I see online lately see to be doing things kind of irresponsibly and I can’t picture Ian doing it that way LOL
Beautiful place! I’d never think to go there. I guess some of that stuff just seems unsafe in my mind so I cross it off my mental list. I’m glad to see your take on it to help normalize places like that. Putting it back on my list!
that’s so interesting that you’d consider travelling to oman unsafe. the us state department website advises a higher degree of caution in travelling to belgium, france, netherlands, the united kingdom (!!) and many other developed nations than in travelling to oman.
My husband is super nervous about anything close to the Middle East 🙂
Those European countries have had terror incidents which is the cause for the warning, And I do not feel comfortable traveling to Europe because not only are their civilians not ordinarily armed more importantly all their police aren’t carrying weapons every moment of their shift. When in NYC a van drives into a crowd of people there will be police seconds away properly armed. As for the Middle East given the cases of women reporting assaults being arrested for violating ‘modestly’ laws because they made the official complaint makes me never want to go there. The fact some can’t show PDAs for their significant others without the attention of authorities there is a concerned. How can someone always remember not to hold hands, etc.. As a woman I could not drive a rental car in some countries in the Middle East. I would not want to try to drive in Europe with the different traffic pattern either. With the exception of Israel as a traveler I would not feel safe in the Middle East. Even Turkey which was fine 10 years ago isn’t now. A country can turn at any moment it seems.
Kristine, perhaps you should widen your world view and meet others different from you & you’ll realize people and places in the Middle East aren’t the scary boogeyman you think! Unfortunately only the bad stuff makes the news.
Kudos to you and your family Charity for seeing people as just that – people, no matter where we live or are from ❤
sure! here’s the post:
That seems so incredible!!! A true vacation. I admire your wandering spirit!!
This truly looks like a dream vacation. I don’t think I’d go anywhere else in the winter! You are so great at taking your young children all over – our son didn’t see much of Europe when we lived there for 3.5 years. He was #4 child, and was 2.5 when we moved there and not quite 6 when we left. We did take the girls a lot of places – they were in the DoDS schools and if all they did were field trips, they would’ve seen tons. I always went with them, so I got to do a lot. They did several days-long overnight trips beginning in 4th grade!
Thanks for sharing! The resort looks dreamy. One question about how you manage resort life meals. Last year my husband found a GREAT deal for a fancy resort in Maui. We loved it. But our joke was it was such a nice place we couldn’t afford to actually eat there! We did the breakfast buffet once for a special bday and it was well over $100 for a family of four; not what we wanted to spend on breakfast each morning. For most meals we’d pack our kids up and drive “off campus.” We also stocked our room with some essentials. We enjoyed ordering drinks by the pool but warned our hungry tweens not to order full Meals.
I share your curiosity about why it seems like many folks think European travel is safer than other travel. As you accurately say, it’s just not true!
our “platinum elite” status – earned through having the hotel’s credit card – got us free breakfast buffet every morning! we fill up heartily on that and then have small/cheap lunches. dinner gets a bit costly but with all we get for free we aren’t too worried about it.
I think eating breakfast outside is one of the most relaxing things in the world…..especially with all that gorgeous fruit and no preparation involved!
Thanks for all the photos. What a beautiful country.