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“1 resort , 2 experiences” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Anantara Desert Islands Resort & Spa

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Anantara Desert Islands Resort & Spa
Certificate of Excellence
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Level Contributor
68 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
“1 resort , 2 experiences”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 27, 2013

1st the good(and the very good) :
The whole journey there is a nice experience by itself . We were greeted on mainland where we checked-in and left our luggage . The reception is very pleasant (albeit quite small) with refreshments etc.There's a shaded parking to leave the car in case you drive there .
We boarded the boat which took about 15 mins to the island then onto a bus which took another 15 mins or so to the resort . We were swiftly taken care of and shown to our rooms . Everything is very well organized but transit time can be quite long at peak times .
From previous posts we knew we should immediately head to the activities center in order to find some availability . It was full house during our stay .
The activity center staff were very courteous and accommodating and very well trained to deal with the massive influx of people .
Anything to do with activities is truly 5* . The guides are very knowledgeable and do take extra care in showing you the best time .
We had rented a one 1 bedroom villa with plunge pool(adjacent to the hotel building) and a deluxe room(in the building) . The villas are really amazing , so spacious and well appointed with a big kitchen etc. The villa patio is fantastic , i spent the 1st evening there away from the crowd at the hotel . A little back door connects you to the pool and restaurants area which was very convenient .
The bad :
Step out from your room to use the hotel facilities (to be fair i didn't see the spa ) is like going from 5* to 3* . The pool is frankly quite gross , dirty , unkempt with tiles falling off etc. My son was cut pretty severely in the pool , the lifeguard just threw us some first aid kit and turned around like nothing happened . He didn't even bother investigating how this happened .
They have a very interesting wave breaker on one side of the beach which allows a tidal pool to fill up . Unfortunately when we saw it the water had seeped out and frankly it didn't look very interesting to step into . The problem is the island is on the shipping line of the biggest industrial ports of the UAE so a lot of trash gets thrown off the oil tankers and ends up on the shore of this gem of an island . The other beach , the open ocean , is a short walking distance . I can't say it's amazing (but again we are spoiled with Abu Dhabi's Sadiyat beach) It isn't bad either .
Another downs side is the food quality . The best we tried was barely average so one night we decided to head over to the Italian at the adult only resort about 10 mins drive (Al Yamm resort) which was better .Transport is arranged by the reception . Considering that you are literally in the closest place to the middle of nowhere i would have imagined they would have a top notch chef . They already went the distance to employ activities guides from around the world , i couldn't figure out why they would stop at that .
To conclude , the experience was great . We initially thought 2 nights there are too much ended up being just right . The kids didn't want to leave and that doesn't happen very often with us . A word of caution , this isn't a resort to sit around and pamper yourself . You go there with activities in mind .
As far as activities are concerned we tried archery , horse back riding (the stables and the manager are really amazing ) , kayaking and safari .
A short word about bookings , they are extremely inflexible when it comes to room occupancy . The villa for example can easily accommodate a family of 4 but there was no way we could convince them to allow more than 3 people which is kind of silly because after all this is a family oriented resort and they only have 8 connecting rooms out of 64 total rooms .For us it would have been an issue because we have 3 children and they're too young to stay in a room alone .
That said we will return for sure .

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank WMFive
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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717 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (155)
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English first
Ko Samui, Thailand
Level Contributor
14 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 27, 2013 via mobile

We live in Dubai and decided to take a short break to sir banyas.
The drive and ferry was excellent. The hotel is old but a good feel.
The staff are amazing! Wow! well trained and definitely could teach most hotels in Dubai a thing or two about quality customer service.
The food is not 5 star quality. Samak is a great restaurant for seafood and light lunch. Amwaj is not recommended.
More marketing would be great to attract more UAE residents. However, the price is on the high side. Definitely not in line with the standard of rooms and quality of food. Maybe 3.5 to 4 star:)

Helpful?
Thank Loshini L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Level Contributor
52 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 18, 2013

From the moment we met the first resort employee to the point when we left four days later the experience was stunning, the food, the service, the quality of the hotel & the resort attractions. We stayed in a 2 bed villa in the hotel complex, it was excellently decorated, the splash pool was exactly what it said it was and was perfect and a good size. We travelled with our young twin daughters and they enjoyed every second of the break. The food was very good in all the restaurants we tried and on one night we had dining by design, which was dinner in the villa with our own chef and butler. Both were very good and the food was cooked perfectly, the customer services was exceptional and discreet. Full marks to the Chef and the Butler on that night they were very good!! We had breakfast every morning in the main restaurant and the staff (particularly the Philippino's - although I hate to discriminate as they were all fantastic) adored the twins and made us feel very welcome even though my girls are hard work at times!! Shisha was very good and not expensive considering I pay more in Dubai on most occasions. Full marks to the shisha guy, he even brought shisha to our villa on one night which very cool. We went on a wildlife tour on one day and hired the whole truck (twin daughters mean I had to do this so as to not want to ruin anybody else's trip) and Ted was our guide. He was amazing very tolerant of our 18 month old girls he was amazing with them. Again Ted was a true star and took a different route to everybody else especially for our girls. The hotel also gave us a good price as we hired the whole vehicle so again and big thank you to the organising team. One last comment, on the first night we had booked dinner for just my wife and I at the fish restaurant, without asking they sent a golf buggy to pick us up. Real service is when you don't have to ask and they just do it naturally, that sums up the mentality of the hotel and the employees. The communal pool was great and very child friendly (with lots of places for the adults as well). I am a CEO of a major service provider in the MENA region and this was a brilliant break. I would hire all the staff in a flash! I can not recommend this particular resort highly enough and a true 5 star experience.

Room Tip: The 2 bed villas are excellent for families!
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Christian R
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 review, October 18, 2013
Dear Christian and family

It was with great pleasure that I read your recent review of your stay with us over the recent very busy period. I was so pleased to hear that Karin and the team here looked after you and your family so well.

Our 2 Bedroom Villas are a great asset to the resort and the Butler service provided is of paramount importance to us and the enjoyment of all our guests staying in them.

Ted, Dennis (your butler) and Ali, our Shisha Guru were very pleased to be picked out as performing exceptionally well and it was lovely to see that the ladies at Breakfast took special care of your daughters.

Our Dining By Design Concept, whether being in your Villa, or any where on the island, is an Anantara signature experience and is a great offering afforded to all our guests. A short while ago, 2 guests enjoyed a Dining By Design in one of the Dry Wadis in the park and along with a saxophonist and guitar player, they also had a most wonderful experience.

Thank you once again for passing on your comments and we really do look forward to being of service to you all again in the future.

With best of regards

Steven

Steven Phillips
General Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 17, 2013

Stayed here for 2 days during the busy Eid holidays period. The property was just good with a decent pool and a ok beach. But at every point I have to appreciate the staff who always did that extra to make the visit worthwhile. Be it the Safari ride with Kate or the horse riding for the kids with Laura and Michelle. My kid had one question to Michelle "why is the horse so awesome" It was his first ride on a horse and thank you for making it a pleasure. Thanks Kate too for the wonderful safari and answering all our queries.
Will be back again bcoz of you guys out there. Thanks.
Salil

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Salil S
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 review, October 18, 2013
Dear Mr. Salil
Many thanks for completing your review, subsequent to your recent stay with us over the very busy Eid period.

I was very pleased to read that you and your family thoroughly enjoyed your stay with us.

Kate, Laura and Michelle have all asked me to pass on their thanks for singling them out as performing so well. The Wild Life experience and the Stables here are a fantastic and important part of the guest experience here and it was great to see that you made the very most of them.

Myself and the team look forward to welcoming you back to Desert Island Resort and Spa by Anantara and in the meantime if we can be of any help, whether making a new booking for here or any other of our resorts, please feel free to contact us.

Best of regards

Steven

Steven Phillips

General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
39 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 3, 2013

Unfortunately our stay in this hotel was not the 5 star experience we had paid for although I have to say that all the staff we met were unfailingly helpful and did their best to overcome our difficulties. It was doubly unfortunate that we stayed at this hotel after their sister hotel, the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, which did give us the 5 star experience.

All went well until we arrived in our room (even the boat trip where we just managed to catch the boat and avoid a 2 hr wait for the next one) although a minor point was that our electronic keys were not in the usual folder which remind you of your room number.

The room seemed very warm but I was unable to find the a/c controls and there was no hotel services book to explain it. I rang reception and they sent someone up with the booklet (which was of little practical use) who confirmed that the a/c control screen was in fact working although it was practically invisible in daylight (this was the same in all 3 rooms we stayed in)

We also discovered that the main hotel restaurant was closed for lunch and dinner ( but no reason why) leaving just the Samak restaurant for dinner or a buggy ride to others some distance from the hotel but reservations were advised. We asked reception for copies of the menus of the various options so we could decide where to eat. All we got was a list of restaurants but no detail of their menu.

We lowered the temperature and waited but after some hours it had not cooled down so we again rang reception who sent an engineer and he spent some time working on the a/c and said it was now OK.

While this was going in we tried the tv which had strange rainbow effects on the screen particularly on BBC World News, but it also occured on external input from my laptop. I also found the shower hard to use as the shower door opened inwards and you then had to wriggle round it into the stall. I tried to open it outwards but it wouldn't.

We then went for dinner at the Amwaj tapas bar (where we ended up eating every night as it had a happy hour and was much better value than the Samak) but found walking back a bit of a challenge as the lighting along the hotel paths was minimal which was a safety hazard for both guests and employees.

When we got back to our room it still had not cooled down but by this time we had had enough so just went to bed.

After a sleepless night (mainly due to temperature but also an uncomfortable bed and poor pillows which was the same in all 3 rooms we stayed in) we asked for room change which was arranged later in the day. (By the way the beds and pillows at the Qasr Al Sarab are very comfortable)

The second room seemed fine, the a/c and tv worked and the shower stall door did open outward. However the balcony in the first room was a reasonable size with loungers, but the second one was much smaller with no outside seating.

We rang reception again and got a third room which seemed to tick all the boxes until we turned the tv on and found the channel numbers did not follow the channel guide in the room. After some to-ing and fro-ing a new tv was installed and this worked fine with no discolouration even on external inputs.

Later that day an overly large fruit basket was delivered to our room, presumably in recognition of all the messing about we had endured, but without explanation it rather missed the point, and frankly a voucher for the restaurant would have been of far more value to us.

On the last morning even the breakfast buffet had disappeared and we had to order our hot food from a very limited menu.

The final insult was on checking out we were charged not only for what we had used, with no reduction for our suffering, but also the pre-authorisation charge had also been charged and we are still waiting for this to be refunded.

Unfortunately we didn't try the various safari and horse options, which frankly would be the main reason for coming here. The beach is poor and has the ugly beach protection bags in front of it, and while we were there the sea was quite rough. For the same money we would recommend the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank RestfulLondon
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 review, October 18, 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.

I was obviously disappointed to read that over all your stay with us did not live up to your expectations but it was great to read that you felt the team here were overall very helpful. We get many comments of a similar nature and it is always a good boost when we post such favourable statements at our team noticeboards

I was sorry to read that there were issues with the Air Conditioning in your rooms. My engineering team take such matters very seriously and I can assure you that every effort is being made to ensure that similar re-occurrences of this nature are kept to an absolute minimum.

The Geo Textile bags which protect the Island from erosion are being investigated into at this moment and we are looking for an effective alternative. This does take some time as tdal flows and currents are a big factor in ensuring a viable alternative. The beach at Amwa if an excellent alternative, albeit it being a 5 minute walk form the pool areas.

In the meantime you may be glad to hear that we have opened our Anantara Al Yamm All Villa Beach Resort a little down the cost. The beach is fantastic and will be a great addition to the Island. Being an adults only resort, it also offers great tranquility.

I have taken careful note of the comment that you felt our mattresses and pillows were uncomfortable and also your reference to the lighting on our pathways from Amwaj (where I was pleased to see that you enjoyed favourable dining experiences. We are actually working on the lighting issue and hope to have this challenge resolved shortly.

Many thanks once again for helping us to understand our level of quality provided at the resort and we very much hope that you will let us re-cooperate your confidence in our Resort and would look forward to seeing you again personally if such an opportunity for me arises in the future.

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.
Ko Samui, Thailand
Level Contributor
31 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 30, 2013 via mobile

Our visit to anantara was on
08-2012

Anantara desert island resort. sir banyyas - abudhabi

Anantara is a well- known resorts group in many countries but my comment about this group that the quality of services varies from one to another.

Well.. Our experiment in anantara was not as expected and hope from them to improve their services specially in sir baniyas resort.

We choose to book for private pool villa and the booking was by phone and it was easy .

Transportation :
The resort is very far from abudhabi and it was long trip by car (250 km).

They have also access by airplane by Rotana group , but we don't advise because it is very expensive .. Doesn't worth to waste that amount on plane..
Well .. it should be cheap to encourage people to visit the resort.

When we reached the resort ,they finished our booking and left to our (((private pool villa))) !!!!
Well it wasn't as expected and as mentioned on their website..
The have only six villas near by the main building and they are not private as told !
There wasn't a swimming pool .. Damn it was 1 meter x 1 meter hole !!! And not private that it was outside and all rooms on the main building will enjoy watching us sitting in that crap hole !! Lool

The property inside is huge and beautiful .. Huge living room + bedroom..
There was no mini bar !!! How come ?only two small water bottles ? Why ? The complimentary in villa was very limited (2 tea bags - 2 nescafe and 4 espresso capsules ) ! That's all ..
I still wonder why they didn't fill the mini bar and why kept it empty ?!!!

There is no direct access to the beach and the beach area is small

Room service is bad .we preferred not to call them to clean on second day !!!

They have two resturants and bar beside the public swimming pool.
Tried one of them .. Low quality food not as expected in 5 stars resort !!

Preferred to order from indoor or villa menu set .. It has large menu.

Spend the night time in the bar and had a shisha (hookah) and some cold drinks .. We don't advise and was truly expensive ..

Second day they made seafood dinner buffet .. It was cool .. We loved it.. And it was crowded

They have message center , safari trips and some naval activities .
Did not try any of them because the weather was very hot and humid that time..

Abu Dhabi still doesn't have the tourism cultural becase they are geeks in this field ..
But you get surprised when you see most of famous resorts and hotels in Abu Dhabi that they don't have quality in customer service and no steady policy.

  • Stayed November 2012
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank CODE75
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 review, October 18, 2013
Dear Code75

Many thanks for taking the time to complete a Trip Advisor review subsequent o your recent stay with us.

Should you have the time and inclination, we would like to discuss your review with you personally and it would be great to receive details as to how we could do so.

With many thanks indeed.

Steven

Steven Phillips

General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
89 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles 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...
See more room tips
  • Stayed September 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Cece1424
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

Property: Anantara Desert Islands Resort & Spa
Address: P.O. Box 12452, 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 (Based on Average Rates): $$$
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 And Spa By Anantara
Desert Islands Resort & Spa By Anantara Hotel Sir Bani Yas Island
Desert Islands Hotel
Anantara Desert Islands Resort & Spa Emirate Of Abu Dhabi/Sir Bani Yas Island

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