Bousher is probably not the first place you think of when you are planning a staycation. I certainly never have. But, like me, I’m sure you’ve all driven past the Millennium Grand Hotel in Bousher, sparing it a curious glance on the way to Lulu Hypermarket, the Muscat Grand Mall, or Oman Avenues Mall.
What’s inside that rather large, expansive building? you might have asked yourself, or at least I always did. Finally, the curiosity got the best of me, and I arranged to go find out.
From the outset, it was clear that the good folks at Millennium realise that what is at the foundation of strong, lasting connections is a personal touch. I was astonished (in a pleasant manner) to be greeted by none other than Frank Funke, the hotel’s head of food and beverage, who kept referring to me as a ‘preferred guest’. It felt nice, but something inside me tells me that’s a moniker they attach to all of their visitors.
After a few half-hearted protestations from me, an attentive porter quickly whisked my bags upstairs (who doesn’t like to be waited on hand-and-foot after all?) where I was greeted by the most splendid of surroundings.
As I stepped onto the plush carpeting of my king-size suite, and there, emblazoned onto the television screen in bold, vibrant lettering was a welcome sign bearing my name. Arrayed on the table was a mouth-watering array of sweets and beverages. I began nibbling on the Omani halwa, sampling delicate macaroons, and devouring the creamy, crumbly, sweet-salty cheese wheel encased in its own pastry. I wondered whether eating all this would leave me much of an appetite for dinner.
I resisted the generously-filled bowl of M&Ms interspersed with coffee beans (until later), and stood pondering the hand-crafted broadsheet of the Times of Oman, made entirely out of white chocolate. I’ll give you a minute to pause and let that sink in. Alright. Two minutes.
I was in pretty much the same reverie you’re in right now, and after recovering from the shock of this unexpectedly warm welcome, I was happy to discover that my snacking had only served to whet my appetite for dinner. Honestly, I was also just plain curious to see if this property would continue to surprise and delight.
“Mr Gautam, this is your home away from home,” said the Head Chef, as he ushered me towards the spread they’d prepared for their evening meal. And what a spread it was.
My biggest concern was how to do justice to the food, which occupied at least five long tables. From Arabian appetisers such as hummus, baba ganoush, stuffed vine leaves and tahini, to a make-your-own soup and salad station, to the finest cuts of lamb and the best fish tikka I’ve ever eaten, there was little out of place at Millennium’s fine gastronomic display. I ate and ate, and sandwiched somewhere in there before my destiny with dessert, I managed to sample a plethora of starters, most notably, the divine tempura prawns (I suggest you try them with sweet chilli sauce) and freshly made fish tacos, which reminded me of the times my friends and I used to while away long summer afternoons on Qurum beach, with the sea-scented wind and the swaying palm fronds creating a cocoon of comfort that few would ever want to get out of.
Fearing that I was getting too full, I ventured over to the dessert station. My fork dropped with a loud clang. There before me was a revolving ice cream counter with 12 different flavours ranging from mango sorbet to chocolate brownie fudge; the creamiest chocolate mousse I’ve ever tasted; and what is now my newest desert obsession: Mud pie pudding. A study in sweet, creamy, chocolaty decadence.
I wandered back to my room in the soft haze of a food coma, knowing I’d need a good workout the next morning, but longing only for my dreamily soft bed. I crawled in and switched on National Geographic. I found myself enraptured by a thrilling documentary about submarine warfare during the World War II on Ultra HD (Yes, I’m just that much of a nerd), before drifting off to dream of flying over the Atlantic in my very own fighter plane.
I woke up in what felt like a cloud the next morning feeling more refreshed than I had in ages. After a leisurely breakfast of light, fluffy scrambled eggs and heaps of fresh cut fruit and crunchy herbed vegetables, battling my inner desire to stay longer and help myself to the fresh-baked muffins, doughnuts, and paninis, instead making my way downstairs for a much needed workout.
I know exercise is supposed to be a strenuous ordeal, but I rather enjoyed my programme. A few invigorating laps around the pool, a very comfortable steam, and the most relaxing Jacuzzi sit ever, followed by an hour on Millennium massage beds, left me feeling like a new man.
Everything at Millennium seems to be designed to make you want to stay just a little bit longer, from the bed that begs you to stay just five minutes more, to the superbly crafted lunch that seems best suited for a lazy Friday afternoon of leisurely conversation over the best crab arrabiata ravioli and scalloped potatoes in town.
All those days and nights I passed by this property, wondering what was behind the sleek glass, never once did I imagine what an oasis it would be. The Grand Millennium is a business hotel that clearly has made it their business to take the best care possible of each and every visitor. Far from an impersonal, efficient stay, they offer the kind of service and amenities of a leisure property, giving so much more than expected.
On the border of Bousher and Al Khuwair, wedged between shopping malls and freeway, the Grand Millennium is an unlikely staycation destination, chuck full of pleasant surprises.
Grand Millennium Muscat
Millennium Grand Hotel is located right next to Muscat Grand Mall, behind Oman Avenues Mall and Lulu Hypermarket
+968 2234 2222
What can you expect?
An ultramodern hotel 15-minutes from the airport in the heart of the city featuring a rooftop pool and tennis court, 296 luxuriously appointed rooms and suites, 32 spacious apartments, a world-class spa, and an executive lounge with panoramic views of the city.
What will it Cost?
OMR53.55 to OMR87.55 per night