Aworld apart from the fast cars and tower blocks of Dubai lies the Anantara Resort at Sir Bani Yas Island, one of the UAE's hidden treasures. From archery to kayaking, snorkelling to safaris, there's never a shortage of activities, so whether you want to lounge by the pool, take a hike around the island or have a relaxing facial, Anantara Resort can provide it all. It's also a great holiday option for families, as the teens club will keep the young ones occupied, leaving you free to relax and put your feet up. Best of all, the pretty resort is just 400 Kms away from Dubai and 250 Kms away from Abu Dhabi, making it the perfect option for a long weekend. The 64-room hotel – which also has family villas – was designed originally to be used as a palace for the late Sheikh Zayed, whose intention it was to preserve the Emirates' wildlife. Today, giraffes, cheetahs and emus roam the island, offering guests a unique opportunity to observe them in the most natural of environments, often in very close proximity.
Some of the animals, such as the Arabian oryx, are on the critically endangered list, and are alive today thanks to the breeding programme, which has become synonymous with the island due to Sheikh Zayed's efforts. We were lucky enough to have giraffes as tall as 12 feet eat right out of our hands!
Each visitor to the resort has a mangrove tree planted in honour of their stay as a contribution to the environment from the developers. Currently the resort is 30 per cent covered in mangroves and over time, it is hoped that the majority of the island will be lined by the trees, as they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and emit oxygen.
With three dining venues to choose from, you'll have plenty of options when hunger strikes. Samak, Anantara's seafood restaurant, offers a variety of freshly-cooked local catches, while the poolside bar, Al Shams, offers tasty hot and cold dishes so you don't have to interrupt your sunbathing time to grab a bite. The Palm, the largest of the resort's restaurants, serves an international menu including Indian and Italian cuisine, with an Arabic-themed night that's to die for.
Many of the rooms have stunning views of the Arabian Gulf, and feature large, shaded balconies where you can sit and enjoy the breezy evenings. The hotel's spa, with its extensive list of treatments, is equipped with an army of staff who will ensure your treatment is as blissful as possible. If you don't feel like leaving your room, you can call one of the spa team to come and give you an in-room massage, with a choice of a Thai massage, foot massage or the traditional aromatic massage. The spa even has a special facial menu for the fellas! For those in need of a bit more rejuvenation, half-day packages can offer another level of pampering. Touch of Amber, a 165-minute series of treatments, combines Thai massage, a foot massage and a bergamot and salt foot ritual. Amber is believed to give a soothing, light energy that both calms and energises as well as absorbs negative energy. The treatment will help your body to heal itself and leave you feeling soothed yet full of energy.
Words by Sarah Swan
Edited by caitlin cheadle
Photographs by Getty Images / Gallo Images
www.desertislands.anantara.com or 02 801 5400.
HOW TO GET THERE
Visitors can now take a short flight to Sir Bani Yas Island from Abu Dhabi Airport instead of driving through the Western Region.
Source: OK Magazine