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Mon 2 Mar 2009 04:00 AM

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Falling into luxury

Kat Slowe discovers that it's not so easy to get away with embarrassing incidents when you're staying at one of the region's top hotels.

Kat Slowe discovers that it's not so easy to get away with embarrassing incidents when you're staying at one of the region's top hotels.

Istumble trip and fall landing feet first in the water aqueduct at The Library in the Chedi, Muscat. As I tip forward onto my knees I give a horrified glance at the wealthy hotel residents seated around me, sipping on their cocktails.

The great thing about The Library, I consider from my position on the ground as water seeps into my shoes, is that it is only accessible to the Deluxe Club Rooms and Chedi Club Suites, so most of the well-dressed sitters are too well bred to stare or laugh.

The other guests might be too polite to laugh but that doesn't stop my companion laughing hysterically. I grab another plate of canapés to console myself as I peruse the menu.

We head to ‘The Restaurant,' which, despite the uninspiring name is rumoured to be one of Oman's best dining spots, so expectations were high.

It didn't disappoint. My companion, my bag and I are seated (yes, they did fetch a stool for my handbag). A piano player massages the keys of a piano behind us and the music floats out, setting the scene delightfully.

For myself, though, the best thing about the restaurant - apart from the food, which is superb - is the fact you can see the chef preparing the dishes in front of you.

The restaurant is separated into four different types of cuisine - Arabic, Asian, Indian and Mediterranean - and for each type there is a separate kitchen. The kitchens, the walls of which are made of glass, are situated within the restaurant, making it possible to watch the food preparation while you eat.

When the bill arrives it is not a shock - a meal for two is likely to set you back around US$200 - but I feel as if I have received my money's worth.

Returning to the suite, it is still not late and I look forward to making the most of the amenities on offer. I enter and laugh with delight. My bed has been turned down and the candles have been lit in the bedroom and around the huge round sunken bath in the bathroom.

The Chedi Club Suite is a deluge of understated comfort and luxury. It is composed of three separate rooms: a living room, a bedroom, and a bathroom, with a separate toilet attached. Outside is a large balcony with a gorgeous view of the sea and lounging chairs.

The room is also equipped with a host of gratifying extras such as a pair of mini iPods, already loaded with songs and sitting neatly in a docking station when we arrive.The mini bar, which consists of three carafes, is re-filled daily so we mix a drink and settle down on the balcony outside while we wait for the bath to run.

The bath in the suite is definitely one of its best features. The only criticism we had with it was that after several attempts we could not produce any bubbles with the bath salts provided. However, this was quickly remedied with a call to room service, who not only rapidly provided a better bubble forming solution but remembered to place it by the bath each subsequent day.

After an excellent night's sleep we visit the infinity pool, which we had heard much about from previous guests. The pool itself was beautiful, though the loungers situated on the beach side somewhat obscured the true infinity perspective of water disappearing into the sea. Men bring towels as you lie there and next to the pool is a beach bar, where you can buy drinks to sip in the sun.

We choose to eat lunch there and I buy a gourmet burger, which at around US$27 isn't cheap, but tastes delicious. But nothing in the hotel screams cheap.

I have to sunbathe in my skirt and t-shirt as I forgot my bikini. An earlier three hour search of Oman did not yield spectacular results on that front, which as a Muslim country holds bikinis in short supply.

I do however find a huge variety of stylish bikinis at the hotel boutique. Not bad if you're willing to fork out almost US$300 for a small scrap of fabric. The next day, determined to catch some sun rays, I shame facedly resort to buying one for under US$15 at Carrefour.

By all accounts the hotel is a delight to stay in. The hotel grounds are perfectly maintained and the serene, almost zen, landscaping exudes a sense of peace. The service is fantastic. Fountains and large ponds - or lakes - are dotted around in strategic patterns. Everywhere you go there is a low background tinkle of water flowing.

The evening before we leave I receive a call on the phone in my room from the man designated to ensure I enjoy my stay. He starts off apologising as I listen confused.

Finally, I begin to realise that he is saying that he only just heard about my accident at The Library on the first night, and wishes to make sure that I am alright, and suffered no real harm (aside from to my pride). So much for staying under the radar, but then I guess all that water must have needed some cleaning up.

I comfortably retire, humiliated.

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