Six Senses Zighy Bay | November 26.2013
By Aysha Majid
A dusty road speckled with modest homes surrounded by mountains paints a humble picture. While sporadic trees act as lookout and spindly goats resilient to the harsh sun, courting the shade of nearby breezeblocks, look bored by our very existence. As we brave the ominous journey up the bumpy mountain track, our eyes spot the welcome carpet of blue sea, framing a sandy-coloured civilisation below.
An optional 15-minute cliff-top paraglide is an exciting introduction to the beach and we’re greeted by a gaggle of friendly staff. Warm delicate glasses of Arabic tea and mango lassi are served in the welcomed sanctuary of an air-conditioned reception and after being assigned a personal butler we hop onto a golf buggy and are swiftly transferred to our spacious villa. Thoughtful touches; such as personalised bikes carefully parked outside for your convenience, a large pot of salt on the bath side ready to soak away the city, two mini limes to slice and ice, welcome dates and homemade baklava, books, pouches and coasters all engineered to make our life easier. The soft shapes and natural earthy tones lull us into a sense of calm. With three bars, three restaurants and a booklet of activities from diving and snorkelling to cultural trips, we mill over relaxation or adventure and decide to incorporate both…
As we arrive at the jetty via private Zighy chauffeur, we're greeted with a glass of champagne and whisked off on a large speedboat to catch the sunset and glistening white coves. We stop, the boat bobbing in sync with the waves and enjoy freshly prepared canapés with a top-up of bubbles, all surreptitiously timed to catch the best of the amber horizon.
We then head to Barbeque Night, with its bustling atmosphere, freshly carved shawarma, chargrilled seafood and meats, and delicious mezze. We are further spoiled for choice with the tempting array of desserts (all freshly prepared by the in-house pastry chefs). The fatteh (traditional Lebanese chickpea and yogurt dish) is so good that I can't stop complimenting the chef behind the station who so fastidiously prepared it. Deja vu of my father's attested proverb, “Food tastes much better when it’s prepared with love.” This is a true analogy of the resort and here's (I think) why. The staff seem to be one big family; as if shipwrecked off the Zighy isle and washed up onto their very own self-sufficient paradise, hidden behind the rugged terrain. This inevitably has a lasting effect on the atmosphere of the sumptuous Flinstonesque village. It seems as though everyone wants to be here and pomp and hierarchy amongst staff is pleasantly misplaced.
Breakfast is served in the Spice Market and (in our case) on the tranquil slate terrace beside our private infinity pool, cushioned sun-loungers and communal seated snug. Freshly baked pastries and organic and local produce is used where possible. The resort also has a conscience, with a very active environmental programme, subtly urging visitors to take part in their sustainable practices, with inconspicuous signs offering a nudge here and there. Their social commitment also includes providing support to the local Dibba Girl’s School, Sharjah Charity International and Sukarina bin Al Husain School.
Off on our bikes we stumble across fig, date and lemon trees and a sign stating, “No Goats Allowed.” Which has been ignored by the bemused Billy, satirically trundling past, sniffing at the ironic stamp of authority. After an ambitious game of tennis we take a dip in the newly built saltwater pool before heading to lunch on the terrace of Summer House restaurant. A refuel of tuna tartar and crunchy tempura prawns prepares us for our next expedition…
Kayaks at the ready we paddle out, the water a deep green and abundant with sea life. Fish curiously popping their goggle-eyed heads out of the water (as if for a lowdown of the beach who's who). Our energy begins to wane, so we head back for a private poolside massage and allow ourselves to be pampered by the spa's accomplished therapists. With an impressive list of treatments, from Omani inspired facials using plants, herbs and indigenous ingredients, to Shiatsu, body polishes and bath rituals.
Pre dinner cocktails at Zighy Bar served in relaxing surrounds act as a perfect start to an enchanting evening. Transported up to the aptly named Sense on the Edge (a restaurant built into the cliff with tumbling water features, subdued lighting and private enclaves). The terrace is whimsical, with twinkling lights and lull of subdued jazz, while the resort is now a mere glittering strip below. The food is executed with finesse and the sommelier enhances our experience with an introduction to the restaurant's vast wine cellar, offering a number of diverse varieties. As we sit looking up at the splashes of endless stars it hits us… Having visited Zighy in the past, you never get bored of this place. It's a sanctuary to lay your hat, cocoon yourself in life's simple pleasures (and luxuries). Like a caring mother wiping your face before sending you off to school, Zighy dusts you off and bids you on your way over the mountain. Relaxed, refreshed and recharged— back to the real world. Until we meet again…