Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort
Lotfi Sidirahal from Atelier Pod Designs the Highest Five Star Resort in the Middle East, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort. Perched over 2,000 metres above sea level on the curving rim of a great canyon in Jabal Akhdar, The project is located on a mountain plateau at 2,400m high, on a 65,000 m plot, and consists of 115 Keys including 82 Deluxe rooms and 33 Villas, 3 restaurants, an infinity edge pool, a large Spa Hammam, Retail courtyard.
Located on a 6,6 Ha cliff edge plot at 2,000m above sea level, with a built-up area of 24,000m² including 115 keys, six restaurants and lounges, a spa and recreation facilities. The sense of drama and beauty is heightened by the play of light and shade, the texture of the natural materials, rustling vegetation, and the sound of flowing water. The designer configures visitors’ experience in sequences in order to arouse distinctive emotions inspired by the view, the architecture, and the landscape.
“Elegant architecture reflects the mountainous surrounds and Oman’s artistic culture. Contemporary design motifs depict the region’s ancient forts. Experience how indigenous elements blend seamlessly with world class accommodation and facilities at this distinctive Oman resort. Hide away in a private villa with a temperature-controlled pool, or our prestigious three bedroom villa – the most luxurious in the country. A striking infinity pool with a belvedere offers an illustrious setting for relaxation.” – Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort
The resort reflects the fortification typology of the Nizwa region’s stronghold, ensconcing guests in modern ramparts inspired by the commanding mountain citadels. A freestanding tower on the western side of the courtyard is a testament to the ancient Omani Keep, or Burj, distinctive by its conical curvature and smooth encircling ramp, with an otherwise contemporary function. In the Spa the falaj-inspired canals, instilling the quiet sound of flowing water all throughout the resort.
The long inaccessible Jabal Akhdar, Arabic for “The Green Mountain”, is a towering massif on the Sultanate of Oman’s vast Saiq Plateau. The luxury resort is located on a 66,000 m² cliff edge plot, with a total built-up area of 24,000m² including 115 keys, six restaurants and lounges, a signature spa and recreation facilities.
“the resort reflects its culturally rich and diversely vibrant background. Prior to the design, Lotfi and his team spent considerable time exploring the surrounding area, meeting with inhabitants of the mountains and visiting abandoned villages to immerse themselves into the culture and ensure the resort stays true to the charm and intrigue of its locale. Constructed using traditional building techniques and local building materials, Lotfi has designed the resort to reflect Omani history and culture, with a contemporary flair.” – Darren Darwin / general manager / Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar
Lotfi Sidirahal – Atelier pod:
MODPF, Oman and HCS, Dubai confirmed PoD as the lead designer winner of the RFP of 10 different companies for their luxury resort in Jabal Alakhdar, Oman. PoD was responsible for the global design scope in the project including Landscape, Architecture, interior design, light design.
The resort is developed and owned by the Ministry of Defence Pension Fund, one of the largest pension funds in Oman that has been on the forefront in investments with a strategic and long-term view. This project’s aim is to support the tourism development of Jabal Al Akhdar in order to create a major destination in the Middle East.
Before embarking on the journey, Lotfi Sidirahal, Atelier Pod’s principle, spent several days with his team visiting the area in order to fully identify with the site’s locality on architectural, communal, and traditional scopes before initiating the resort’s design. The immersive excursion included meeting the mountains’ communities, re-drawing the architectural and landscape details of Birkat al Mawz and Jabreen fort, and of course exploring the primitive vernacular typologies that testify to the people’s historical lifestyle. This exploration phase preceding the design task was crucial for the team in order for them to create a unique and contemporarily rooted resort within the extraordinary heritage of the region.
The Atelier Pod team perceived how forms, volumes, play of light, use of materials, construction and decorative details of traditional Omani architecture and interiors, not only displayed harmony of form and function, but also how it responded to the local climate and culture. The studio contemplated long and hard on how to draw from these conventions in the project’s inception, ranging from the simple massing in the design of Bahla Fort to the delicate elegance of Jabrin Castle. The approach of Atelier Pod involved the innovative adaptation of vernacular elements to express the essence of local heritage.
A unique identity, new creative statements:
Key elements in the character of Oman’s architecture are integrated into the resort’s concept without overshadowing its design. The resort reflects the fortification typology of the Nizwa region’s stronghold, ensconcing guests in modern ramparts inspired by the commanding mountain citadels and re-imagined with sophisticated modern interiors. The sense of drama and beauty is heightened by the play of light and shade, the texture of the natural materials, rustling vegetation, and the sound of flowing water.
Stepping in an extraordinary setting:
The designer configures visitors’ experience in sequences in order to arouse distinctive emotions inspired by the view, the architecture, and the landscape. Sidirahal explains; “We designed the entrance with the idea of a fort in mind. 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.”
In the lobby, the guests are greeted by a wooden geodesic dome spanning over ten metres in diameter with a peaceful contemporary fountain centred beneath it. As they make their way through to the central courtyard decorated by revisited Omani arcades, they can catch a first glimpse of a striking rectilinear frame, increasing the perspectival depth of the mountain silhouettes, stretching over the garden terraces and beyond to the dramatic gorge.
With a large open fireplace serving as a central focal point, the courtyard is unmistakably the heart of the resort. An emanating protective warmth contrasts with the breathtaking cliff-side, injecting an invading vastness in the pool, rooms, and villas. The patio brings together a souk, a coffee shop, a library, as well as pathways leading to the main restaurant and banquet facilities.
A freestanding tower on the western side of the courtyard is a testament to the ancient Omani Keep, or Burj, distinctive by its conical curvature and smooth encircling ramp, with an otherwise contemporary function. The tower houses a lounge and a specialty restaurant while also serving as an observation tower for a night under a blanket of stars. The rooftop was inspired by the high firing platforms of Nakhal Fort on one hand, and the rooftop courtyard of Jabreen Castle on the other.
Atelier Pod conceived every aspect of the resort to enrich the guest experience, designing not only architecture, interior design, and artworks but also the resort’s lighting design in collaboration with LDC Madrid, and landscape design with HED London. The meticulous attention brought to every nook and corner gave birth to an unprecedented resort in the region.
Interiors that convey local heritage:
Designed to incorporate a reinvented sense of timelessness in the vein of rooted luxury, the elegant interiors reincarnate the surrounding culture, exuding a minimalist style infused with warm, rich colours alongside traditional features represented in local artwork, Arabesque lanterns, and handmade pottery. Indigenous iconic mountain roses, pomegranates and marine fossils permeate design choices, as reflected in the décor and artwork.
Describing the eighty pieces of custom designed furniture as “contemporary interpretations of traditional Omani design”, the studio used the patterns and architectural details found in doorframes, ancient ceilings, and traditional chests in order to generate a complete furniture line adapted to luxury resort standards. As Sidirahal puts it: “We tried to continue the Omani design DNA by inventing the missing genes”.
The ultimate aesthetic is never in contradiction with its environment and yet never the same:
A total of 115 luxury guest rooms and villas overlook either the dramatic canyon or tranquil gardens. The resort’s 82 Deluxe Rooms boast a spacious bedroom, amongst the largest in the country, and a spa-like bathroom complete with a rain shower and separate bath alongside a balcony. Meanwhile, the 33 One- or Two-Bedroom Villas grant guests an intimate escape, each with a private infinity pool overlooking the cliff or hiding in an exotic garden.
Other unique design elements include the spa, featuring the falaj-inspired canals, instilling the quiet sound of flowing water all throughout the resort. In the heart of the spa, a mysterious rough stone cube shields the sensual hammam, perpetuating the philosophy of contrast used by the designer.
Project name: Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort
Location: 110, Postal Code 621, Al Jabal Al Akhdar, Nizwa, Sultanate of Oman, Nizwa 621, Oman
Coordinates: 23.067576, 57.669829
Type: Resort, Resort Interior
Accommodations/Hotel Size: 115 Keys including 82 Deluxe rooms and 33 Villas, 3 Restaurants, a Spa, Recreation Club, Banquet facilities
Project Area: 24,000 sqm
Construction Period: December 2013 – September 2016
Cost/Budget: 65 Million dollars
Visit Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort’s Website: here
Client / Owner / Developer: MODPF – Ministry of Defence Pension Fund
- Atelier pod – 11A, rue de Reims, Paris, France
Interior designer: Atelier pod
Design: Lotfi Sidirahal
Text Description: © Courtesy of Atelier pod, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort
Images: © Atelier pod, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort