Atelier Pod has designed the interiors of the soon-to-be-opened Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort in Oman, showcasing a quiet tribute to the imposing local surroundings.
Perched 2,400m above sea level on the curved periphery of a canyon, Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar resort is the latest addition to the GCC hospitality offering, embracing local influences and traditions. The hotel will open its doors to guests next month and has been designed by international design studio Atelier Pod.
Located atop Jabal Akhdar (‘the green mountain’) on a 66,000m² plot, the resort features a selection of garden, cliff-edge and presidential villas, as well as four blocks of deluxe rooms along with spa and fitness facilities, a children’s club and other amenities.
Atelier Pod was appointed for this project after being shortlisted among 10 design studios worldwide. As Lotfi Sidirahal, founder of Atelier Pod sums up this was not just “another hotel project”, but a rare opportunity to create a resort rooted within the rich heritage of the region, which is also being promoted by a major Omani government pension fund.
“The [client’s] brief was to design a resort that can be a real destination in Jebel Akhdar, reflecting at the same time the values of Omani people. We needed to understand the local culture and translate it to according to Anantara brand values,” explains Sidirahal.
Before starting the design, he spent several days with his team visiting the area, meeting the local people from the neighbouring villages, and redrawing architectural and landscape details of Birkat al Mawz and Jabreen Fort. The team members researched not just Oman, its history and culture, but also the unique identity of Al Jabal Al Akhdar.
Although the view of the mountains, the architecture and the landscape were a fundamental part of the design concept, Sidirahal explains that it was crucial not to be “blinded by the view” and says he decided to cut visitors’ experience into sequences.
“We were so excited about the view, but we couldn’t give the view to all the components of the resort,” he says.
Focusing on the main building of the resort, designers developed the concept of Omani Fort, so the key elements in the character of fort architecture have been integrated into the design concept, but without dominating it.
Sidirahal explains: “We designed the entrance with the idea of a fort in mind. The exterior with great wooden doors is strong, impressive and commanding. There is a dramatic contrast upon entry as the interior gives an immediate impression with an open courtyard featuring green terraces and a ‘falaj’ with running water. The Omani tradition of integrating a ‘falaj’ with cleansing spaces was adopted to offer intimacy to secluded areas around the spa.”
The design team was also inspired by the agricultural garden terraces located in the surrounding mountains to create a contemporary landscape which recalls the identity of the region.
Once the masterplan for the site was finally fixed, the team was able to move on to develop the fine details of interiors– not just architecture and interior design, but lighting, planting, artwork and food concepts, ensuring again that the hotel stays true to its cultural context.