Paradise on the Persian Gulf: Musandam Peninsula

Prices are steep by design, with rack rates starting at $1,050 per night in the summer low season, to $1,520 in the January to May high season. What you get is a deluxe beach vacation and total privacy -- a private butler, a private plunge pool, and if you opt for a beach-front villa, a private piece of paradise. In effect, you hide away, in high style and the stunning natural beauty. The hotel grounds breed a sense of serenity and exclusivity; even on arrival you first stop at a desert welcome center before a speedboat or 4x4 takes you to the hotel's hidden oasis.

'Its Own World At Its Own Pace'

More accessible in price and in reach are the family-friendly Golden Tulip resorts in Dibba and Khasab. Starting at $240 during high season, $160 from May through August, the four-star Golden Tulip is perched on stunning beaches with excursions that will get you well around Musandam. The Dibba property is somewhat dated, but you can enjoy the beach and watch the sunset from your private balcony.

The more polished Golden Tulip Khasab is directly on the Strait of Hormuz, and a great place to take a boat ride around the "khors," or coves. The hotel also has a dedicated diving center, where you can take beginner's level lessons before you plunge. From Khasab you can arrange a boat trip to Kumzar, a town of stone homes where villagers speak Kumzari, a mix of Arabic, Persian, Portuguese, and Hindi.

The best way to reach Musandam is by flying into Dubai or Sharjah airports, roughly 1-2 hours away. If you're already in Dubai, a weekend in the wilderness of Musandam is a welcome break from the concrete heat of the city. Musandam is its own world at its own pace, and a taste of Arabia that lingers in delightful memory.

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