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“Over Promise Under Deliver”

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Anantara Desert Islands Resort & Spa
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed June 11, 2013

We stayed at Desert Islands on the long weekend of 6th - 8th June. We are a couple both aged 30 with no kids.

Having left Dubai after work, I knew the drive was going to be around 3 hours - unfortunately we missed the boat at 8pm and had to wait for the 10.30pm boat. Not ideal given there were only two couples waiting, when we asked could they send the boat straight back they informed us they could and offered an alternative private transfer for 1100 AED.

The crossing took 30 minutes and the bus journey the other side another 30, we eventually arrived at the hotel gone midnight. All the restaurants were closed however they had advised we order room service in advance which was ready when we arrived in the room which was quite pleasant well received after a 6 hour trip.

The rooms themselves i thought were very nice, we had a deluxe sea view room and it had a king size bed, which was huge alongside a large balcony with two comfy sun loungers. Bathroom was very modern with a very large shower and separate bath. The mini bar was fully stoked alongside complementary Nespresso which i thought was a nice touch.

The weather wasn't great on our first day so we decided to do the shorter (9KM) bike ride at 8.30am. Our guide was very nice and the equipment all in good condition, however the ride was mostly flat and should really be called bike tour as it wasn't challenging, I'm told the 18KM is slightly more 'off road'. For 100 AED this wasn't bad value and lasted around an hour and fifteen minutes.

We had booked to go snorkelling at 2pm however we decided to check out the watersports facilities over at the other building, we were told to arrive back at 1.30pm. When we did eventually arrive back at around 1.40pm we were told the snorkeling was cancelled due to weather conditions, irritating yes, however out of our control........but - why not call me or my room to inform me of this BEFOREHAND.

The rest of the day we spent by the pool which i must say is lovely, it's chilled (temp) which is great when it's 35+ and there are plenty of sun loungers. Lifeguards bring round ice cold water and towels also. This was 'dry' day so i wasn't paying much attention to the waiter service however my wife was ordering juice and had to keep returning to the bar to do so which wasn't ideal.

At 5pm we decided to go on the desert safari drive, which was actually excellent. Our guide Kate was very informative and took us on a great tour which included seeing cheetahs, deer, oryx, peacocks, ostrich, giraffes, hyenas and many more animals. It lasted around 2 hours and was well worth the 255 AED per person. Seeing the animals is not a certainty however the guides do their best.

Dinner that evening we booked a table (as advised) to Samac which is the resorts 'famous' seafood restaurant. Now unfortunately this is when our day took a real nose dive, we arrived at 9.20pm and there were 4 people in the restaurant and zero atmosphere. We were shown to our table and I selected a Sancerre from the wine list, at over 300 AED a bottle you would expect the staff to take note and bring it to the table promptly, it took around 15 minutes to arrive and eventually came after the Oysters I ordered (which were very fresh and well shucked). For main course we ordered the seafood platter which consisted of a lobster, tiger prawns, scallops, squid and sherri and bream fillets.......where to start? The lobster was overcooked, to the extent it would not come out of the shell easily, the scallops were tiny, the tiger prawn had been deep fried in batter (why oh why???!!???) and fish 'fillets' were barely edible - full of bones and lazily filleted meaning there was not much actual fish to eat. This was served with sauteed vegetable and a side of potatoes - the vegetables were forgotten and were brought halfway though the meal. Normally I would have highlighted this while we were eating however it was clear they were not going to be able to offer a replacement as the kitchen had closed and was being cleaned and packed away (this as at around 10.10pm). For the very same reason, dessert was completely off the cards and we were now the only people in the place. When our server came across to clear the plates I highlighted some of the issues with the food and was met with a blank look, then thanks for my comment and handed a feedback card which we left with reception for fear of it not making it out of the restaurant.

All the bars were closed by 10.30pm so we called it a night.

The next day the weather was much better and we were looking forward to our rescheduled snorkeling trip, only to be told at 7am that it was again cancelled due to bad weather.......I'm not convinced this was the case as the sea look remarkably calm.

We spend all day by the pool and sampled many of the cocktails on offer, on the whole the drinks were good and reasonably priced for the region. They also have Warsteiner and Peroni on tap which made a nice chance from the usual beers on offer.

We had a note left in our room from the F&B manager apologising for our experience the previous night, we were offered a round of drinks complimentary which we decided to take in the Amwaj restaurant near the dive centre. We sat down ordered drinks and then were told that none of the seafood options were available on the menu (we are pescetarians so not ideal) - we finished our drinks and left swiftly. We decided to go to the BBQ night in the main restaurant, plenty of prawn, lobster and hammour on the BBQ - all great quality and a nice house wine as part of the all inclusive package. Lots od salads, desserts and hot dishes too. If you are there on a Friday I recommend this.

While this review appears negative, in actual fact the resorts isn't all bad. The staff are very polite, the place is clean, drinks are good and choose the right activity and it will be fun.

However, it's the finer details which Desert Islands falls down on - such as prompt service (we had to call reception 4 times to get room turned over, called 3 times for an ice bucket) the fact that they only told us 10 minutes before our bus was due that the boats to mainland were cancelled due to bad weather, lack of understanding and empathy from staff, quality of some of the food etc etc.

Overall, I won't be visiting again or recommending this place to friends. I think there are more cost effective and luxury resorts in other Emirates or countries - for example Muscat is a similar distance from Dubai and a much better option in my opinion.

I hope this helps

Room Tip: right hand side of the hotel on 3rd or 4th floor have better sea views
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  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank simpleplan1983
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed June 9, 2013

The drive to get to the port took us about 3:30 hours, Then we waited for the ferry for an hour, which took is to the island in 30 minutes, AFTER THAT we got on another bus which was about a 20 minute drive to the hotel, with another wait of 20 more minutes inside the bus for them to unload luggage from boat to bus (It basically took us about 6 hours from Dubai till the hotel's door)

By the time we got there at 1:30 pm we were so beat up, yet were informed our room was not ready yet!!Honestly this was such a turn off, given that we were so tired plus my brother in law have already arrived a day earlier (and asked for connecting rooms and were told our room will be right next to them) So how come it wasn't ready when we arrived after this Super Long trip to get to them?

Pros: Room + overall furniture and interior design of the hotel is lovely/ small details make it look rich, unique / we've witnessed the most beautiful sunset on the island/ free wireless internet everywhere/ Quality Food.

Cons: Getting there from Dubai was so tiring ( Don’t go if you're not staying at least for 2 nights)
Pool wasn’t heated /Pricey Food/ No activities what so ever for kids (we had 3 boys under the age of 4) so either you'd go on the safari in the hot weather and pay loads of money, or you just settle with the pool!/ Room wasn’t cleaned the next day, even though we've placed "the make up my room card" and left the room from 8 in the morning till 3 afternoon, I had to personally tell the housekeeping staff to clean it!!/ It gets too dark and freaky at night (giving you no options other than to eat and sleep).

Finally on the day of checking out, we over heard other guests talking about a letter they have received the night before regarding the possibility of not being able to get off the island as the port authority will not allow boats to cross over due to the wind conditions!! This letter was not sent to us, and upon checking with reception, they confirmed that we couldn’t take the boat and we need to be on standby in case one was allowed, or they will give us a complimentary extra night stay.

Thankfully they called us and we were able to get on a huge fairy with all cars and buses, and crossed over safely to our cars.

Overall We just wanted more!

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Sarah M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 9, 2013

Pros:
-The location is GORGEOUS - Sir Bani Yas Island is a beautiful natural environment that has only been improved through the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan.
-You will see a lot of animals - it is not comparable to a real safari on the Serengeti, but to say you are on an island in the UAE, it is a little taste of africa.
-Our safari guide was extremely nice and knowledgeable, showing us a great time.
-The Hotel lobby fits perfectly with the safari theme
-The pool is a great place to laze about

Cons:
-It is a long way from Dubai and flights only fly once a week
-The resort itself could benefit from being more centrally located (take advantage of the beautiful setting).
-The beach is not soft sand, and has large anti erosion bladders clearly visible
-The food was disappointing

Room Tip: The higher floors have better views of the ocean and island interior
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  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank MaxOfArabia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 6, 2013

Getting here from Dubai is quite long,half way through our drive we called the hotel and only when asked were informed that ferry services are available only every two hours! The welcome lobby at the ferry area is outdated...at the hotel, our deluxe sea view room was a very very ordinary one! Doesn't even have wallpaper and the bathrooms are very old and with small bins and no proper drainage!! When we called for room service they informed they were busy and would callback.. No one did! We again called in a bit and ordered dinner. Later, we called twice to clear the dishes however no one came so we had to sleep with the dirty dishes in and food smell all night! After my third call in the morning they cleared.... When we were stepping out, even after putting up the card outside to clean up the room no one did! So we'd to come back to a messed up room with litter overflowing due to small bins! I finally had to complain that I'd not pay any service charges since their service is so pathetic...The place is very basic, however, wild life drive is really good! Food etc over priced, pool side towels very very old!!! The bar served cocktails which taste like water that we'd to give it back. We are not going back nor will recommend to anyone.

  • Stayed: June 2013
    • Value
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Thank Avi31
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 4, 2013

The good part - Good decor and interiors, nice architecture of the hotel, neat, clean, nice spacious rooms, great view form the room, beautiful infinity pool, private beach, good service, quiet, relaxed, lots of landscape and activities can be arranged (though we didnt have the time as we were there for just 1 night).
The not so good - very far (we drove form dubai and then the ferry) hence going for 1 day is not really enough and though a very good resort its not extraordinary or something you've never seen. the food is average too.
On the whole - I would recommend this place, but go for a minimum of 2 nights and dont go with over expectations.
Enjoy!

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled with family
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Thank DhananjayArora
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Steven P, General Manager at Anantara Desert Islands Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded June 5, 2013

Dear Valued Guest
May I thank you for taking the time to complete your Trip Advisor review subsequent to your visit with us. It is through receiving these comments, both of a positive and negative nature that we can praise, where praise is due and also identify and act on any shortcomings where appropriate to do so.
In reference to your comments about the long drive from Dubai, you will be pleased to hear that from August we will be offering direct flights 3 times a week from Dubai. More details will be released shortly.
I was sorry to read that you felt our food was only average and although there is no detail given, I have spoken with Chef Ken as this is unacceptable. As per our seasonal policies, we will be shortly changing the menus and i would hope that these would lead to a more satisfactory outcome. For your information we will shortly be adding a further restaurant, Italian in its Cuisine at our new Anantara Al Yamm Villas and having tested the restaurant there very recently, the whole dining experience was excellent
Many thanks once again for helping us to understand our level of quality provided at the resort and we very much hope look forward to welcoming you back to Desert Island Resort and Spa by Anantara
Yours sincerely
Steven
Steven Phillips
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 2, 2013

As a family we have driven many times from our house in northern Qatar through Saudi and into the UAE and Oman. Over the past ten years we have watched the route develop and we have always intended stopping and trying the anantara resort on Sir Bani Yas Island. We drove the 400 km, did two international borders, the ferry and the bus in exactly six hours, we just missed the midday ferry! However Mohammed made us most welcome and we felt like pampered guests in our own hotel lounge. Upon arrival at the resort we discovered that midweek there are only a handful of guests, our rooms were fantastic in everyday and the pool was ours for the next 24 hours. We ate in the tapas bar, beautiful beachside location, felt like we were actually in Thailand. Next day our friends arrived from RAK, 500 km and six hours. We went on the nature walk and monastery tour, well done Kate for putting up with all our questions and extending our tour well past the allotted time, tried hard to get the peacock to fan it's tail didn't we! Cute rock hyraxes, exciting time near the giraffes and oryx. Amazing to find the remains of a sixth century monastery in the UAE. In all our three night stay was totally relaxing in wonderful surroundings and even our two teenage boys rated it fab, best place for revising GCSEs apparently! Thank-you for a lovely stay. Please think of a better way to tore the luggage on the boats, not very five star in a big pile on the deck!

Room Tip: Stay on top two floors of the hotel of trees will block your view. Do not stay in the wooden facade...
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  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Kevin_Lucy_Qatar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Steven P, General Manager at Anantara Desert Islands Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded June 5, 2013

Dear Valued Guest
May I thank you for taking the time to complete your Trip Advisor review subsequent to your visit with us. It is through receiving these comments, both of a positive and negative nature that we can praise, where praise is due and also identify and act on any shortcomings where appropriate to do so.
It was great to see that you took the time to drive such a great distance to visit us and thoroughly enjoyed your stay.
I have past your kind comments to Mohammed and Kate, who were so pleased to hear them.
In reference to your comment about the luggage storing, I totally agree that this is unacceptable and have brought it to the attention of our bell boys
Many thanks once again for helping us to understand our level of quality provided at the resort and we very much hope look forward to welcoming you back to Desert Island Resort and Spa by Anantara
Yours sincerely
Steven
Steven Phillips
General Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 26, 2013

Excellent surprise. All went well and we enjoyed the "cool" place by mid-May. We came from Dubai rushing to not miss the Navette from the jetty to the Island.
Hotel entrance is fantastic. Lobby & decoration are all perfect.
Room (perfect) facing the sea with balcony & transat. We organize our sofa on the beach to face the sea as well. Sunset side of course :)
Swimming by the sea in front of the new restaurant : Amwaj (very good food & perfect service - don't miss that one - all diners were there except the last one in the mountain), snorkeling, relaxing,...Pool at the end for some fresh water.
Game drive/Safari at sunset. Spotted all animals: been very lucky as told us Kate & Yasmen. 4 cheetahs !!!! was also great to visit the Island and listenig to history & explanation.
Fishing another day 3 hours starting 6am is enough to catch enough barracudas, queen fishes & king fishes. Dolphins paying around as well :) Kept one fish for BBQ as all fishes must be return by the sea. The sea around the island is also a game reserve and the rule is to release each fish been captured except one if you want to eat it: we kept a Queen fish. Was very good.
One candle diner with BBQ at sunset (again?) in the middle of Island; Top of the mountain. Tip Top. Super. Just do it :) It's a total change of scenery driving in the game park to reach this lost place for a perfect diner.
Very relaxing place. Definitely recommended. Staff is perfect and please ask Sara for a complete succesful visit to the place.
Enjoy ;)

Room Tip: Face the sea & sunset :) Don't miss Amwaj and book your table now :)
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  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
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    • Service
Thank Laurent G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Steven P, General Manager at Anantara Desert Islands Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded June 6, 2013

Dear Mr. Laurent,

It was a pleasure having you with us in Desert Island Resort and Spa, and we thank you for taking time to answer our online guest satisfaction survey. It was most kind of you to share your thoughts with us since your responses will help us to shape the future of our services, your help in this regard is most appreciated.

I was very happy to read that you had a wonderful time in our hotel and enjoyed the island as a whole. I am very pleased to inform you that we will also be opening another hotel on the island by end of this month, it's Anantara Al Yamm Villas offers a wide range of activities for adventure seekers and provides the ultimate resort facilities for those who wish to simply relax and soak up the sun.

Mr. Laurent, Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara is most grateful to you for your time and effort in providing feedback to us. We rely on such inputs from our guests since we are continually striving to provide our guests with the best in service and accommodations

Thank you and we are looking forward to welcome you back soon.

Sincerely,
Steven Phillips
General Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Anantara Desert Islands Resort & Spa

Address: P.O. Box 12452, Al Ruwais, Sir Bani Yas Island 00945, United Arab Emirates
Location: United Arab Emirates > Emirate of Abu Dhabi > Sir Bani Yas Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 3 Hotels in Sir Bani Yas Island
Price Range: $326 - $797 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Anantara Desert Islands Resort & Spa 5*
Number of rooms: 64
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
With 64 luxuriously appointed rooms, suites, spacious one-bedroom villas and truly luxurious two-bedroom Royal Villas, Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara invites you to live out your own Arabian nights in a destination that is anything but ordinary. 240km from Abu Dhabi City and just eight kilometers off the Abu Dhabi emirate’s western coastline, the island beckons with a mystique that is worlds away from the hustle and bustle of modern urban life. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Desert Islands Resort & Spa By Anantara Hotel Sir Bani Yas Island
Desert Islands Resort And Spa By Anantara
Desert Islands Hotel
Anantara Desert Islands Resort & Spa Emirate Of Abu Dhabi/Sir Bani Yas Island

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