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“Amazing Wildlife Drives”

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Anantara Desert Islands Resort & Spa
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed September 28, 2013

Desert Islands Resort is a wonderful escape from the city with lots of interesting activities. We chose to drive to the boat jetty and then take the ferry, followed by a bus to the hotel. The ferry ride is about 15 minutes and the bus ride about another 15. The staff were all extremely friendly and helpful. We enjoyed doing the wildlife drive and taking photos of the animals up close. The guides are very knowledgeable and give you lots of opportunities to take pictures. We also did the nature walk which was interesting because you get very close to some of the animals. We spent some time at the pool and went in the ocean a bit although it was a little rocky. The food was good and overall, we really enjoyed our stay.

Room Tip: All the rooms face the ocean but the ones on the first floor have a door and terrace that opens up t...
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  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Cece1424
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 22, 2013

Having just returned from an overnight at the Desert Islands Resort & Spa, I would highly recommend this unique experience to couples and families alike. We arrived via the 12pm ferry, and were able to quickly check-in and drop our bags in our spacious and well appointed room before heading to the pool for lunch. The pool was a walk-in lagoon, that was suitable for small children as well as adults.

My husband had booked a dinner reservation through the "Dining by Design" option, that resulted in a wonderful meal in a private setting alongside the beach. The setting was romantic, the service was attentive, and the meal was fresh and multiple courses.

The next morning we went to our pre-booked activities, the 16km mountain bike ride through the game reserve for 2, and the desert safari ride for the others. We choose the 6:30am event timing, and were very pleased we had. The sunrise was memorable, and the early temperature made both trips more enjoyable. While we took different paths through the park, I was able to snap a few photos of my husband and friend as they biked near our path. The animal life was easily viewable and active, as morning is when they are fed. From the safari vehicle I saw 3 cheetah, 7 giraffe, 2 ostrich, and numerous regional animals. Our guide, Kate, was informative and friendly, adding to the memorable experience.

I would highly recommend calling when you book, as we received a rate lower than the online price. Also, reserve the activities you would like when you make the booking at the hotel, as others were upset to find most activities fully booked when they arrived. The "Dining by Design" is highly recommended for those planning a romantic evening, but probably too long for young children to enjoy. If you choose the last return ferry (4:30pm) you will likely be offered a late check-out at no extra cost.

  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank jwhitney19
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 18, 2013

Coming from Dubai we thought it would be a great road trip and were really looking forward to our stay on the Island. Having to reach the boat at a certain time was however the first hurdle and so we arrived with screeching tires and in a total rush to be able to make it. The boat trip was nice, the fact that there was another 30min bus trip at the end of that was something we were not prepared for. The check-in went very smooth once a colleague had acknowledged us. The rooms are very nice and spacious. The pool and beach were ok, although nothing great. We were interested in snorkeling, which is not organized through the hotel but through the watersports centre next door. The mountain bike tour we ended up booking was really great. Or guide was knowledgable and engaging and the route was challenging and interesting. Room service was lacking on all ends. First our order arrived but with an additional dish we had not ordered, wasn't mentioned on the invoice nor was the waiter able to identify it when being asked. The next time we failed to reach anybody, were told that we'd get a call back and since that never happened we went to the pool bar instead. The fish & chips there were great! The enti three nights we were there two lightbulbs in the corridor were blown out, in plain sight. Turn down service was interesting, apart from folding back the edge of the duvet and dropping a bag with cookies next to the door where the coffee machine is, nothing else was done. All in all, not worth the trip and definitely not 5*.

Stayed: June 2013, traveled with friends
1  Thank biene1486
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 10, 2013

My title can seem strange but yes, it is avery complicated place to reach. And once you finally reached it you wondered why you spent all that money and time to go there.
The hotel really needs to be renovated. The restaurants are not very nice at all.
And worst the beach is horrible.
Only good is the mini safari, but not worth all that money, as you can actually fly to Kenya and stay there 3 days for the sam price and see the real wild !

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank TheGastronomist
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 2, 2013

This is a top notch quality resort. Made us feel like we are the master of the whole resort. The staffs service is extraordinary. As soon as we arrive until check-out they were very accommodating. Their happiness in their job reflects on their actions. I hope they keep on smiling even though it must be very difficult to work far from civilization. I actually forgot i was still in Abu Dhabi. It really felt like I was in safari. Room was bigger than other 5star hotels, Amwaj tapas was excellent, unfortunately the Samak fishes were not on stock and breakfast buffet was too limited. The beach should be improved but we truly appreciate the pool boy who kept us hydrated with cold bottled water in this hot
weather. The long distance travel to Sir Baniyas was worth it although i don't recommend Rotana Jet. We should have driven instead. Weekend is pricey but we will return next time on weekdays as they can give a discounted rate.

  • Stayed: August 2013
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1  Thank appleblau
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 22, 2013

At 7.5 months pregnant, we are becoming limited in where we can escape Dubai and this seemed like the most ‘contrasting’ UAE getaway I could find. We had a pleasant Eid weekend though the 5* hotel wasn’t quite as amazing as I’d optimistically anticipated compared with other 5* hotels we have had the privilege to enjoy. The various 'packages' offered on their website can be quite misleading in terms of actual value so beware.

Dubai door-to-door to Anantara took about 5 hours: drive, ferry, coach transfers. We were greeted by what seemed like a random guest in his white linens who was supremely excited by our arrival. I presume he was management of some sort. At breakfast time, expect a tall lady-in-white to come and wish you a good morning too. The staff in general are very friendly and helpful.

The room was large and clean with a nice view of the Gulf, generous balcony. Toiletries missing on arrival but we called to have these replenished and they arrived soon enough. Anantara are good at topping up the free drinking water supply throughout your stay, even at the pool you can get free bottles of water from the lifeguard.

Breakfast is a great spread. Impressed with the carrot/apple juicer. Got very busy on the Saturday morning so get in early if the hotel is full!

Relaxing by the pool was a nice enough way to spend hot hours. It is a beautiful infinity pool looking out over the Gulf and is kept at a pleasant temperature, even when it’s 40’c+.

Ate at Samak which I highly recommend, particularly their fish which is cooked and served on a hot salt brick – unique and delicious. They were quite shy on my husband’s wine portions however. If it’s not too hot, sit on the outside terrace and listen to the crashing waves – really makes you appreciate that you’re on an island.

To make the most of the island, you must go on the ‘safari’ – it really is an impressive wildlife conservation project that was set up by Sheikh Zayed. Our guide was bubbly and generous with her time. We had many questions about the wildlife and conservation, some of which she could answer but we were surprised by the limits of her knowledge. I guess her expertise was the wildlife. The 2 hour safari was however steep at £100/550AED for the two of us. There were plenty of giraffes, ostriches, oryx, gazelles but unfortunately no cheetahs on this occasion. On later thought, we were surprised that the guides didn’t use the tracking system to check location since apparently all the cheetahs are fitted with trackers.

We could not do most of the other activities due to both the heat and my ‘state’ but I am assuming they would add a lot to your desert island experience, even if they do seem pretty expensive for what you get. That’s 5* for you.

The whole hotel experience is however pretty average and there aren’t as many of the nice little touches we have enjoyed in other 5*s. Considering the price of this hotel compared with others, the novelty of this being on a wildlife conservation island is really the only draw. For an out-of-this-world 5* experience in the UAE, head to Al Maha in Dubai. A perfect weekend getaway where they include the activities and three daily meals plus you’re spoilt with all the little touches throughout your stay. Alternatively, just go for the day to enjoy a safari to appreciate this island wildlife conservation project and perhaps a meal at Samak.

Room Tip: All rooms have both a sea and a garden view so I am not convinced that the 'sea view' rooms...
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  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Thank mjkens
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 10, 2013

First time here with my sis family, my family, and my father and mother. We had major issues with the quality of food the first day, prompting my sister to speak to the manager ( she is not a picky eater). The kids did enjoy the pool, and it was a kid friendly hotel. The weather outside was too hot, so we weren't encouraged to do the outdoor activities. However, the staff here is to be commended, they responded immediately regarding the quality of the food where we noticed a distinct uplift of quality the 2nd day of our visit.

Pros

Service
Family friendly

Cons

Too hot in summer can't do anything outside
Food quality issues

Stayed: August 2013, traveled with family
Thank Kinoby
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member 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: $329 - $1,195 (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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