“Embrace a unique escape on Sir Bani Yas Island, just off the coast of Abu Dhabi. Experience a truly beautiful reserve with indigenous wildlife, white beaches and stunning natural landscapes.” Anantara Hotels
Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island is a remote retreat for those looking for an indulgent escape. Guests, who reach the island by boat, can choose from beach or savannah style private villas at Al Yamm and Al Saleh or opt for a more traditional hotel stay at Desert Islands Resort. You really are spoilt for choice with the standalone spa, wildlife park, watersports, land and sea activities as well as plenty of dining options across the three resorts.
Sir Bani Yas is the largest of eight desert islands that, under the directive of the late Sheikh Zayed, has been established as a nature reserve and now a visitors retreat. The island honours the Bani Yas tribe, the oldest and largest in the region, and through its ongoing conservation programme is preserving years of history, culture and wildlife as a legacy for future generations.
We stayed at Al Yamm, the ocean front resort of thirty beach villas on the east side of the island influenced by a traditional Emirati fishing village. Various sized villas span the resort on either side of the lobby/restaurant/pool area offering beach or mangrove views. The standalone villas are spacious and decorated in a warm palette with colourful artwork and wooden furniture, they each have outdoor verandas (some with plunge pools) and various alfresco seating areas.
Inside there’s the most comfortable king-sized bed (hard to leave for an early morning wildlife drive), desk, lounge area and an open-plan bathroom with a freestanding bath, walk-in shower and Elemis amenities. Don’t be surprised to see regular four-legged visitors while noisy, colourful peacocks and chirping birds provide constant background noise.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Olio is a modern mediterranean restaurant serving Italian-inspired cuisine. A plentiful breakfast buffet is on offer with a chef cooking eggs to order, fresh coffee and a whole area dedicated to baked goods and pastries. The a la carte menu is available for lunch and dinner with pizzas, pasta, seafood, vegetarian options and delicious desserts (try the melanzane and tiramisu). Olio bar has a nice outdoor seating area and a daily happy hour, perfect spot for a sundowner or two. Just in front of reception/Olio is the infinity pool, relax here on one of the many sun loungers with views of the Arabian Gulf. Snorkel and masks are available for those who want to snorkel while food and drinks can be served poolside from nearby Olio.
Looking for a back to nature style stay? Recently awarded the accolade of the 2019 Middle East’s Leading Green Resort, Al Sahel offers earthy toned villas set amidst the grasslands, thirty luxurious thatched villas with vibrant interiors, four poster beds and rather fabulous bronze free-standing baths. Savannah, the African inspired restaurant and grill offers international flavours and African specialities, we sampled its varied menu for lunch but I found it heavily meat focused (as you would expect) with less vegetarian dishes. The adjacent lounge serves drinks with a grasslands view and dine under the stars at Boma.
Desert Islands resort has a more regional feel in both design and Middle Eastern flavours offered in The Palm and Al Shams restaurants. We enjoyed a traditional iftar buffet with shisha on the beach served on majlis style seating around fire pits, good to try if you are visiting during Ramadan. Local seafood is served at Amwaj, the hotel’s beachside venue.
There are activities aplenty with our favourite being the wildlife drive in the island’s sprawling nature reserve, a sanctuary for a myriad of native and non-indigenous animals. Species as the Arabian Oryx (saved from the brink of extinction by the Sir Bani Yas conservation programme), cheetahs, mountain gazelle and those from African natives the reticulated giraffe, eland and antelope roam free. We had an early morning guided drive around the reserve, experiencing the savannah, bush areas, the more mountainous area and defunct salt mines. The ongoing wildlife conservation efforts on the island are extensive ensuring the future of the animals, indigenous plants and birdlife.
The watersports centre located at Desert Islands offers many activities including paddleboarding, sea kayaking and wakeboarding. Head out on a snorkelling trip to the nearby shipwreck to catch a glimpse of three species of turtles, green, hawksbill and loggerhead that frequent these waters along with dolphins and an abundance of other sea life. Also available at Desert Islands is the standalone Anantara Spa with a menu of Thai and Arabic inspired treatments, fitness centre, tennis courts and kids club. Other island activities include wildlife and wadi walks, culture tour, horse riding, mountain biking, land sailing, kayaking in the mangroves, archery and falconry.
Thoroughly recommend Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island as the perfect staycation, a perfect escape from the city that’s easily accessible from other Emirates. The villas in both Al Yamm and Al Sahel are beautiful and there’s lots to see and do but alternatively it’s also a great place to kick back and relax.
The Nitty Gritty
Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island, Al Ruwais, Sir Bani Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Telephone: 02 801 5400
Check-out: 12 noon
Remote Island location
Luxury villa accommodation
Wide range of activities
The Not so Good…..
Limited dining choices for vegetarians at Savannah restaurant
Some dining options and activities are expensive
Read more about Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island in previous post anexpatabroad.com/2019/05/12/in-pictures-a-postcard-from-anantara-sir-bani-yas-island/. Read about Anantara Eastern Mangroves HERE and Anantara Lawana Resort | Koh Samui HERE
I was invited to visit Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island. Some items/activities were for paid by me. The views in this post are all my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated all photos © Jo Brett 2019. All rights reserved.