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Scuba diving & adventure travel packages --
Here are the hotels, dive shops, treks & cultural tours.
© Copyright U.S. Dive Travel.
All rights reserved.
© Copyright U.S. Dive Travel. All rights reserved.
CURRENCY EXCHANGE RATES:
A la Carte HOTEL, SCUBA DIVING
& SIDE TOUR PRICES in OMAN:
After spending several weeks inspecting most major hotels & resorts in northern Oman, with in-depth onsite tours plus interviews of management teams, we can make all these following recommendations in good faith. It is our opinion that the single best-value hotel in Oman, for most visiting dive vacation clients is the Radisson SAS Hotel right in downtown Muscat.
This well-managed hotel is centrally located & therefore easy to grab a cab anywhere you want. Prices are economical in a city where some hotels overcharge for rooms of modest quality. The Radisson has a spirit of service & congenial attention to details that is delightful. Their management is friendly & unpretentious; the staff is johnny-on-the-spot efficient, & most workers are good-humored. There is a sunny, life-positive attitude at this hotel that comes from the top management & filters down.
The Radisson's breakfast & lunch buffets are by far the tastiest meals in the city -- almost extravagant in color, variety & freshness. The in-house grill is superb, & comparable to some of the best 4-star restaurants we have dined at anywhere in the world.
In Muscat, the Radisson SAS standard rooms are not large, nor super luxurious; but they are very clean, quiet & more than comfy, with city views + cable TV + ultra-modern bathrooms + all conventional client services available from the front desk. Most staffers speak excellent English, so there will be no language barriers. Translators for French, German, Spanish & Dutch clients are normally available.
ANY SEASON PACKAGE RATES
for RADISSON SAS HOTEL, MUSCAT
(Call 952-953-4124 re' package rates & we will check with Muscat for you, as specials change frequently.)
ANY SEASON PACKAGE RATES
* Per-person prices for Standard Guest Room -- in Omani Rials.
* Package includes round-trip airport transfers + gourmet buffet breakfast + all hotel taxes.
* Add USD $95 tariff per client for all divers & non-divers alike.
* Room includes free membership in the Radisson's elite beachside club.
* Complimentary hotel shuttles from downtown to the club for several hours each day.
* High season runs from September through April each year. May be subject to changes.
* Ask about "Sudden Specials" during Low Season, available from May to September !
HOTEL INTER-CONTINENTAL, MUSCAT:
This is the best 4-star luxury hotel in Muscat, our site inspections showed. Prices are not in the bargain range at all, but for clients seeking higher-than-moderate luxury, at reasonable prices, this hotel beats the Sheraton & Grand Hyatt hands down, in terms of quality-to-price ratio. The rooms here are spacious & ultra-modern, with cable TV & nice garden views, mountain views or ocean views. The restaurant is adequate but not remarkable & the buffets could use a little tender loving care, with less oil & fresher provisions. Front desk workers are courteous & attentive & the staff seems very well-trained. Most staffers speak decent English, so there will be no language barriers. Translators for French, German & Spanish clients are normally available.
Several benefits to staying at the Hotel Inter-Continental are these:
* Clean grassy campus & one of the best beachside locations in Muscat. The grass needs some spiffing up, but the tennis courts & beach access are nice touches. Beaches in Muscat are not like the sands of Hawaii, or the South Pacific. There are grayish tidal skirts & patches of rougher sand. But the air is fresh & salt-scented, the sands are clean & the views are beautiful. Walks or training runs along the public beaches are good fun.
* Two excellent swimming pools -- one is for serious workouts, with a nice sun canopy; & the second is a huge garden-like creation that runs like a river under foot bridges & around patios. This is the fanciest swimming pool in the city of Muscat. The pool tenders keep these bodies of fresh water clean & in impeccable condition.
* The lobby & great room are beautiful, with lean post-modern architecture that creates a pleasing environment for casual meetings, for sitting to read, or just sipping a soda.
* There is a well-appointed health club, with steam rooms & spa -- very popular.
* Package includes round-trip airport transfers + all hotel taxes & tariffs.
* Prices good through Sept. May be subject to nominal changes.
* Ask about special low season rates available from May through September.
HOTEL INTER-CONTINENTAL --
(Per-Person Prices for Standard Mountain-view Room, in Omani Rials, sales tax included)
Discounts are always offered for extended stays & for groups of 10+ pax.
All prices subject to possible changes. Call us for "Sudden Seasonal Specials" -- good low-season discounts!
All packages include round-trip airport transfers, airport meet-&-greet, transfers to dive shop, English-speaking guides.
SCUBA DIVING PRICES
Prices may be subject to change. Add 17% tariff. Ask about our excellent discounts for extended stays & groups:
TREKKING, CAMPING & ADVENTURE TOUR PACKAGES:
Please add 17% guide-service tariff per client.
The WORLD-RENOWNED AL BUSTAN PALACE HOTEL:
This 5-star luxury resort is more a work of art than a place to hang your hat. The Al Bustan is one of the most famous hotels in the Arab world & by far the piece de resistance of Omani lodging options. This place needs to be experienced to be believed. Towering more than 70 feet above the grounds, this vast building sits regally on acres of coifed lush grass, with the nicest private beach in all of Oman (more than a kilometer long).
The hotel was built back in the 1980s to house Arab oil ministers for a major summit meeting hosted by the Sultan of Oman. Since then it has drawn hundreds of the best & brightest European & Arabian travelers to its sunny splendor. The lobby alone is worth more than many American hotels, because of the extravagant & acutely detailed tile work, the lush colors & artistry of the walls & colonnades, the 80-foot domed ceiling & the impeccably appointed furnishings. This hotel regularly is visited by European royalty, world statesmen such as Nelson Mandela, & heavy hitters of industry from several continents.
I have examined the grounds of many fine 5-star hotels in my career, & the Al Bustan Palace Hotel ranks among the most breath-taking displays of sheer opulence I have ever seen. Far more elegant & less self-absorbed than anything on Lanai island in Hawaii, for example -- where Bill Gates got married. Bill, you & Melinda should have come here.
The restaurants at Al Bustan Palace Hotel are all top-caliber, & we enjoyed a luncheon buffet here to rival the top restaurants in Manhattan, Chicago or Seattle. The salads were astonishing in their complexity & subtly textured flavors, & there were exotic entrees one normally glimpses only in gourmet magazines. The deserts were enough to launch your palate into lunar orbit. Ah the chocolate mousse, the chocolate....
To be fair to this wonderful hotel (which charges SERIOUS sums for its better rooms), the Al Bustan needs some renovation in the standard rooms, but the managers were very forthright about it. They have indicated that extensive remodeling, to the tune of millions, will be completed before spring 2004. And these guys have the budget & the authority of the Sultan to get the job done right. This hotel is the Sultan's showpiece, & he is a stickler for perfection. Right now, the better suites & ocean-view penthouse units can fetch several thousand U.S. dollars per night, & they are in delightful shape, ready to create any Arabian Nights fantasy you & your spouse might imagine. Call us for price & lodging details. Ocean-view rooms, double-occupancy including gourmet buffet breakfast each day, will start at about OR 155, or about USD $419 per night. Some of the finest panorama penthouse suites will command up to ten times that price per night.
CLIENTS, PLEASE TAKE CARE of your own
ADVENTURE TRAVEL INSURANCE & PADI
EMERGENCY EVACUATION INSURANCE -- IMPORTANT !
For all Oman diving clients, & all Oman trekking clients too, we ask that you secure your own travel cancellation insurance before vouchers will be issued. All divers should secure PADI Diver Accident Insurance, or D.A.N. worldwide evacuation insurance, in addition to travel insurance. USDT Network does not sell these insurance packages for ethical reasons. But you can research travel insurance on the Internet, easily. We do not accept any commissions from travel insurance firms, as we only want your trip to be better protected -- in the unlikely event of airline cancellations, storms or overseas defaults.
BTW: U.S. Dive Travel is proud to report that we have never had one scuba diving client, nor one wilderness trekker killed or injured in our many years of service. However, we intend to remain humbly thankful for this safety record. The Good Lord has been more than helpful to USDT's many loyal clients. So the credit for this perfect safety record goes to Him & to prudent planning. Help us keep the streak intact, amigos.
Therefore, we insist on safety first for all our clients, no matter what your level of scuba diving, trekking or climbing expertise. Thanks for your cooperation, amigos, as we all try to keep these Oman adventure vacations exciting, sensible & enjoyable for every client.
(We can customize these options any way you want;
1st day:Morning arrival into Muscat on Northwest-KLM Airlines via Amsterdam. You will be greeted by our guides at the airport & taken downtown after clearing customs. You'll check into Radisson SAS Hotel in downtown Muscat, conveniently situated near good restaurants & nightspots. This 3-star Radisson has the best-value lunch & evening buffets in the city. Yes, we have checked most of the good hotels & restaurants. You can unpack & freshen up then hit the road with camera ready to go! You will enjoy our talented guide Brigitte Wensauer & her popular Oman Fort Tour, heading out to the ancient fortifications at Nakhl & Al Hazm for half a day. After touring the nooks & crannies, the parapets & dungeons, the trapdoors & secret tunnels of these huge forts, you head back home to Muscat for some laid-back lounging at your poolside. You get a free shuttle any time you want from your downtown hotel to the luxurious private Radisson club right on the Gulf of Oman. (Soft drinks & picnic lunch provided free today.)
2nd day: Two guided boat dives at Fahl Island, an Omani scuba diving must-see. After this you will enjoy Brigitte's downtown Muscat tour, including the famous old-town market called the Souq, right near the harbor. This Souq is "Souvenir Central," & Muscat's answer to Seattle's Pike Place Market -- but a lot more fun. The deals you can strike with Omani merchants for gold & silver creations, prime frankincense & colorful Asian rugs are really something. With a few shrugs & a smile, these gracious people will give you up to 35% off just about anything, if you ask politely. Local laws & traditions forbid Souq merchants from hoodwinking the tourists. Now isn't that something? How many Asian countries have you visited with this sort of impeccable consumer protection built right into everyday commerce? The Muscat Souq is a must-see. After the Souq, you will visit the Sultan's Palace in Old Muscat near the harbor. When floodlit after dark this huge palace, seen from the cityside & from the harbor, is strikingly beautiful. (Clients seek their own meals today; water provided on dive vessel.)
3rd day: Two dives at Bandar Khayran, another classic of Arabian Sea diving. Then we drive to the lower flanks of the Hajar Mountains, a desert region famous for its pristine air & clean sands & multi-colored peaks that stretch for many miles, for some relaxed car camping, highlighted by open vistas & a savory open-fire supper under the stars. Nothing like good camp chow spiced with pleasant conversation & completely unhindered views of the night sky. The sky seems surreal with so many stars! (Soft drinks & supper provided free today + water on dive vessel.)
4th day: This is another must-see, funseekers -- Al Fallah Cave -- known in the local Omani vernacular as "Hoti Cave." It's a compelling day tour you'll never forget. (Modest rock scrambling required; as this is a slightly strenuous cave hike). Anybody in reasonable shape can do this cave tour; it's nothing heinous. Al Fallah Cave is safe & do-able for most persons who are in good health. The sights are spectacular in this Hoti Cave, especially the underground lake (with its tiny pink fish) & an awe-inspiring main chamber with some massive stalagmites. Photo opportunities abound if you bring a bright strobe & some backup lights. Make sure you have good block-toed hiking shoes (light-weight & breathable), extra flashlight & batteries & some fresh water. If time permits & for extra cost, we can add on another night of camping under the stars at the summit of Jebel Shams, the tallest peak in Oman (9,870 feet, or 3,009 meters). We reach this summit with a 4WD vehicle so no worries in the cardio department. (Soft drinks, breakfast & picnic lunch provided free today.)
5th day: 2 dives at either a new Bandar Khayran site or the Quriat Wreck (advanced divers only for the Quriat, as this wreck is draped in old fishnets & might be a little tricky when the currents are moving). What makes this wreck a cool site is the profusion of rare cuttlefish, who mate & flutter around in beautifully complex patterns. Good idea to be careful around the Quriat Wreck. If you are an experienced diver, this will be duck soup. If you are a beginner, then tell us & we will substitute a day at Mermaid's Cove or another mellower coastal dive site. Your scuba diving guide will decide on the exact dive site today, based on weather conditions & fitness of the team -- for your maximum safety. There are dozens of fun scuba diving options for you, or challenging options too -- if you have a taste for underwater adventure of the keener sort. (Clients seek their own meals today; water provided on dive vessel.)
6th day: 2 dives in the stellar Daymaniyat Islands, finest scuba diving locale in Oman, & one of the prime gems of Arabian Sea diving. The fish life & corals are beautiful here in the Daymaniyat Islands. Please check our Oman Diving webpage for detailed accounts of diving these splendid Daymaniyat Islands. This will be the highlight for those clients who visit Oman mainly for the scuba diving tours. (Clients seek their own meals today; water provided on dive vessel.)
7th day: Day-tour with 4WD to the desert river valley called Wadi Suwayh, a picturesque "wadi" or Omani river valley. Depending on the tour group's level of ability, the weather, & team preferences, we may choose another wadi that is equally beautiful as an oasis. This is a mellow & photogenic day tour for any hikers of modest cardiovascular ability, & you will love it. For those who really want to kick up their heels with some adrenal action, another more advanced swekking canyon further back in the high country may be chosen instead. Serious canyoning enthusiasts, who are up for the more advanced back-country swekking ("swim-trekking" the canyons), must bring all appropriate safety gear from home, including waterproof pack & camera bag, light rock gear, good block-toed hiking boots or approach tennies (light-weight & breathable for the desert heat) & a sunhat, plus long-sleeved nylon or cotton shirt. Do not forget the Ten Essentials from "Freedom of the Hills." (Soft drinks & picnic lunch provided free today.)
8th day: Departure with Northwest-KLM Airlines, via Amsterdam & then back to your home city. Clients seek their own breakfast & lunch before departure today. (You may add as many extra days as you wish, to remain in Muscat for more diving or more back-country tours such as wadi hikes, back in the Hajar Mountains. Please let us know what you need & we can customize your options readily, just as you prefer.)
Price per person with a minimum of 4 guests: from USD $1,677 per client for the land package, depending on customized side tours clients choose. Some packages may be substantially lower in price. International air tickets are extra for all Oman dive vacations. Meals & tips on the road are extra costs. We cannot package this tour for solo guests. Prices are a bit higher for just 2 persons. On the more advanced swekking forays, we request no more than 8 divers or trekkers per guide, for maximum safety. In the gentler scenic wadis, larger groups are fine. See Oman Prices webpage for details.
"OMAN DIVER & TREKKER SPECIAL"
VACATION PACKAGE PRICES:
FOR MORE INFORMATION or RESERVATIONS:
Contact -- Susan & John Hessburg, Mgrs
U.S. DIVE TRAVEL Network
PMB 307 / Suite # 116
15050 Cedar Ave. S.
St. Paul, MN, USA 55124-7047
IMPORTANT NOTE about PRICES & TARIFFS:
First things first for your Oman scuba diving holiday. Please remember that you will need to secure a formal visa from the Omani Consulate closest to your hometown, before you will be allowed entry into Oman. Visas for most U.S., Canadian & European citizens are very easy to secure, & take only a couple weeks. In many cases, you can get your visa right after your plane lands in Muscat. The Oman Embassy staffers in Washington, DC are exceptionally gracious & helpful. They are geared up to encourage eco-responsible tourism; this is quite evident. Visa fees are nominal & paid via cashier's check to the Omani Embassy or Consul General nearest to you. Make sure you prepare well for your Oman scuba diving trip.
OMAN VISA PROCESS -- Passport & visa required for all tourists, & for all Oman vacations. Tourist/business visas for multiple-entry issued for stays up to 6 months & valid for 2 years. Both business or tourist visas require a special official application form & cholera immunization if arriving from infected area & a self-addressed stamped envelope for return of passport by mail. For transit & road travel, please check with the Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman, 2535 Belmont Rd., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008 (202/387-1980, -1981 or -1982).
All package prices listed here for Oman diving holidays are subject to possible change in this steadily evolving travel market. Land prices are traditionally stable, while air prices may fluctuate for Oman vacations. Until air tickets are issued, all airlines reserve the right to change airfares without notice -- a longtime industry standard, per FAA rules. We at U.S. Dive Travel will price-protect you to the utmost of our professional ability; & that has been our pledge for one decade now. We normally secure excellent discount air tickets. Remember please, the federal government has deregulated airlines, so only they control their pricing -- not any travel professionals. But our lodging & Oman diving contracts are set for one year at a time, & therefore are rock solid nearly all seasons.
Unless specifically noted, these above packages are prices for only the land-based or vessel-based portion of your Oman scuba diving vacation, in most cases reflecting double-occupancy rooms. At most vacation resorts there will be no triple-occupancy rooms offered. Some exceptions may be noted. International air tickets & commuter "island-hopper" airfares are always extra above these land costs. Nominal service fees are also extra for air tickets & the lodging + diving components of all Oman vacations. The baseline tariffs for all clients start at $35 per person for the land portion + $20 pp for published-fare air tickets. Late-booking clients may receive slightly higher tariffs on the lodging + diving. Solo clients will always pay a single supplement to secure a private room on their Oman diving holidays -- normally 35% to 50% more -- & possibly a doubling of the standard double-occupancy rate at some resorts.
For our U.S. or Canadian clients, the preferred payment mode for all lodging, diving & side tours is by cashier's check or wire transfer in U.S. dollars. All clients living outside the USA or Canada will need to pay only via direct wire transfer in U.S. dollars -- no exceptions please. No personal checks or credit cards will be accepted for the lodging or land-tour portions of any Oman dive vacations, please. Thank you for your gracious understanding. Our service level is the highest & our prices the lowest in this industry, & thus we need to preserve a reasonable margin to keep the Ship of State afloat, thereby ensuring that your Oman diving holidays will be brilliant & affordable.
For published-fare air ticket bookings on your Oman dive vacations, USDT always accepts Visa & Mastercard, even from non-U.S. clients. For discount wholesale air tickets, however, USDT accepts only cashier's checks or wire transfers, please, since we are giving you exceptionally low net rates, below the lowest published discount fares available.
Remember, all clients to all foreign destinations will be asked by local officials overseas, upon departing the airport on your final day, to pay a nominal government departure tax, usually between USD $25 - $45 per client. USDT cannot collect this tax beforehand, so you simply pay it down there, in your host country. Be sure to stash away a little cash for this final moment at the airport, so you'll get your exit visa stamped quickly with no fuss; & away you go. Best of luck with your travel plans. We hope your Oman dive vacation is a safe & satisfying adventure. Blessings & best wishes.
Best fishes too!
>////*> <*\\\\<John Hessburg, General Manager
© Copyright U.S. Dive Travel. All rights reserved.
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