April 13, 2002
Taybet Zaman, now a five star hotel, is a restored bedouin village high on a hill overlooking desolate landscapes. Stone homes are connected by stone archways, walls, terraces and roads that wind through the complex in a maze-like manner.
Original inhabitants of this village were Nabataean people from western Arabia. They were nomadic farmers who collected sandstone blocks and rubble to build winter shelters for their families and animals. In the spring, they gathered their belongings and journeyed to better pastures, living in tents or caves until the cold forced them back to these permanent structures.
By mid-century, their dwellings contained two rooms–one for the animals and a second one for the families. Walls, constructed from sandstone, were two feet thick. There were no windows or running water. Families lived on yogurt, humus, figs, tomatoes, olives and bread. In 1950, there was pressure to move to more modern homes with more space for growing families, and by 1960 it was almost deserted as a living community.
In 1990, restorations began, employing many of the former residents. Investors gave priority to hiring bedouin locals, and ensured their success by sending young people for vocational training in Amman to learn all aspects of hotel operations. As a result, 125 of 171 employees yet today are local villagers.
All 105 rooms are original shelters with stone walls, floors and arches, decorated with local crafts. Windows and large tiled bathrooms have been added for modern convenience, while wonderful Dead Sea bath products add a touch of luxury.
Stone terraces and private nooks provide spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, while stone pathways weave under archways and through the tiered village to a Turkish bath, pool, recreation room, restaurant, bar, bakery or souk.
Sahtain restaurant serves all three meals buffet style in an intimate, exotic atmosphere, dimly lit with beautiful furnishings. Scrumptious food, impressively arranged, offers a taste of traditional Arabic mezzehs (appetizers) such as humus, tabbouleh, tahini, and main courses of kebabs, mensaf, musakhan and kofta. We stayed four nights and never had the same meal twice. Wonderful, delectable dishes!
Near the restaurant is the souk, an assortment of high quality shops where local artisans can be observed at work crafting pottery, clothing, hand-blown glass or jewelry. A large selection of spices and incense are also sold. We bought frankincense and myrrh! Shops are open till 11 pm.
Room rates range from $155 to $224 US per night double occupancy. A free shuttle bus leaves for Petra (10 km away) at 9am daily and returns at 3pm. Taxis cost JD4 ($7 US) for the twelve minute ride. Splurge and stay here while visiting Petra. You won't regret it. It was by far our favorite place to stay on our honeymoon...romantic, intriguing, historical and unique!
From journal Honeymoon in Petra