The highest five star hotel in the middle east is perched over 2,000 metres above sea level on the curving rim of a great canyon in the long inaccessible Jabal Al Akhdar, Arabic for “The Green Mountain”. It is a towering massif on the Sultanate of Oman’s vast Saiq Plateau. The luxury resort is located on a 66,000 m² cliff edge plot, with a total built-up area of 24,000m² including 115 keys, six restaurants and lounges, a signature spa and recreation facilities. Before embarking on the journey, Lotfi Sidirahal, Atelier Pod’s principle, spent several days with his team visiting the area in order to fully identify with the site’s locality on architectural, communal, and traditional scopes before initiating the resort’s design. The immersive excursion included meeting the mountains’ communities, re-drawing the architectural and landscape details of Birkat al Mawz and Jabreen fort, and of course exploring the primitive vernacular typologies that testify to the people’s historical lifestyle. This exploration phase preceding the design task was crucial for the team in order for them to create a unique and contemporarily rooted resort within the extraordinary heritage of the region. The Atelier Pod team perceived how forms, volumes, play of light, use of materials, construction and decorative details of traditional Omani architecture and interiors, not only displayed harmony of form and function, but also how it responded to the local climate and culture. The studio contemplated long and hard on how to draw from these conventions in the project’s inception, ranging from the simple massing in the design of Bahla Fort to the delicate elegance of Jabrin Castle. The approach of Atelier Pod involved the innovative adaptation of vernacular elements to express the essence of local heritage.Key elements in the character of Oman’s architecture are integrated into the resort’s concept without overshadowing its design. The resort reflects the fortification typology of the Nizwa region’s stronghold, ensconcing guests in modern ramparts inspired by the commanding mountain citadels and re-imagined with sophisticated modern interiors. The sense of drama and beauty is heightened by the play of light and shade, the texture of the natural materials, rustling vegetation, and the sound of flowing water. The designer configures visitors’ experience in sequences in order to arouse distinctive emotions inspired by the view, the architecture, and the landscape. Sidirahal explains; “We designed the entrance with the idea of a fort in mind. The exterior, with its great wooden doors, impressively showcases commanding strength. There is a dramatic contrast upon entry as the interior gives a delicate and voluptuous impression with a majestic open courtyard featuring lush green terraces and a falaj.”In the lobby, the guests are greeted by a wooden geodesic dome spanning over ten metres in diameter with a peaceful contemporary fountain centred beneath it. As they make their way through to the central courtyard decorated by revisited Omani arcades, guests can catch a first glimpse of a striking rectilinear frame, increasing the perspective depth of the mountain silhouettes, stretching over the garden terraces and beyond to the dramatic gorge. With a large open fireplace serving as a central focal point, the courtyard is unmistakably the heart of the resort. An emanating protective warmth contrasts with the breathtaking cliff-side, injecting an invading vastness in the pool, rooms, and villas. The patio brings together a souk, a coffee shop, a library, as well as pathways leading to the main restaurant and banquet facilities.