ARABIAN NIGHTS

July, 2017

Lotfi Sidirahal, Founder,
Atelier Pod Designs

Regally perched at 2,000 metres above sea level on the curving rim of a great canyon in Jabal Akhda, Atelier Pod has produced yet another masterpiece.
The name Anantara Jabal Akhdar Nizwa in Arabic means “The Green Mountain”, which takes after its natural place in the plateau.
Based on a 66,000 sq m cliff edge plot in the vast Saiq plateau in the Sultanate of Oman, the hotel has a total built-up area of 24,000 sq m.
The principal designer of Atelier Pod spent many days analysing the locality and geography on architectural, communal, and traditional scopes before initiating the resort’s design.
The French Moroccan Architect, Lofti Sidirahal describes the intense pre-design phase.

He says, “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.” The exploration phase that preceded the design task was crucial for the team to create a unique and contemporarily rooted resort within the extraordinary heritage of the region.
Ensconcing guests in modern ramparts inspired by the commanding mountain citadels, the resort is re-imagined with sophisticated modern interiors. 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.

“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” (a water channel of the traditional Middle Eastern style).
In the lobby, the guests are greeted with a wooden geodesic dome spanning over 10 metres in diameter with a contemporary fountain centred beneath it.
Through the central courtyard decorated by revisited Omani arcades, visitors can catch the first glimpse of a striking rectilinear frame, increasing the depth of the mountain silhouettes, stretching over the garden terraces and beyond, to the dramatic gorge.
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 speciality 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. Indigenous iconic mountain roses, pomegranates and marine fossils permeate design choices, as reflected in the décor and artwork.
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 and 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.
The Omani tradition of integrating the ancient water channel system, called “falaj”, with cleansing spaces was adopted to offer intimacy to secluded areas around the spa. These areas harbour jacuzzis, daybeds, and hammocks. This majestic resort is the fourth collaboration between Atelier Pod and Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spa.
From the door frames, ancient ceilings, and traditional chests of the Omani style, the resort’s architecture is the fortification of the typology of the Nizwa region’s stronghold. The vernacular language of the resort expresses the essence of local heritage by creating strong identities and environment specificities.