Be more Zen in 2017 and take a transformational trip that sets you up for the challenges of the year ahead.

Get thee to a designer monastery in Umbria, spend a week in pyjamas at a five-star ashram in the Himalayas or beat a retreat to the former Brangelina’s outré Utah escape.

Belinda Beckett discovers five ravishing refuges specialising in mind and body makeovers that last a lot longer than a suntan.

Alila Jabal Akhdar, Oman

Feel on top of the world at a ‘gorge-ous’ mountain hideaway

If life’s challenges leave you staring into the abyss, try some five-star aversion therapy at this elite eyrie teetering on the edge of a jaw-dropping 600m mountain gorge. The humbling widescreen views will shrink your problems to microscopic proportions.

Alila is Sanskrit for ‘surprise’ and two-year-old Alila Jabal Akhdar lives up to the resort chain’s name. Skirting the monster ravine at 2,000 metres above sea level, the infinity pool seems to cascade over the edge and there are dizzying views at every turn. (Children are welcome but would you want the stress?)

Jabal Akhdar is Arabic for the ‘green mountain’ that provides most of this desert region’s crops and fruit. Junipers and walnuts, dates and pomegranates are watered by the clouds at this altitude.

The damask roses that wrap the hills in a pink shawl in spring are turned by local farmers into Oman’s famous rosewater, used in the hotel’s spa treatments and Arabic-inspired cuisine.

The exterior of hand-cut stone and timber suggests the sort of place Wilma and Fred Flintstone might have gone to renew their vows and the roads haven’t greatly improved since prehistoric times.

A 2.5 hour drive from Muscat, the hotel can only be reached in 4x4s. Don’t be put off by the Middle East location. Although Oman borders Yemen and Iran, it has been ruled by the same Sultan since 1970, and ranks as the 74th most peaceful country in the world.

The opulent interiors fuse Omani and contemporary western design, with baronial polished oak doors, gleaming copper ornaments, frankincense burners and ostrich egg-shaped bathtubs placed in front of windows to soak up the views. Damask rose motifs stencil the walls of the 86 rooms and suites. Each room took one local craftsman three days to complete…

Words Belinda Beckett

Read the rest of this article