Although Dubai has thrust the UAE into the media’s spotlight, its neighbour and capital, Abu Dhabi, is over 16 times bigger, offering a much wider variety of attractions and natural landscapes.
Archaeological evidence suggests that humans first settled Abu Dhabi as far back as five thousand years ago, most likely due to its suitability for nomadic herding and fishing along its coast. Fortunately, for those who aren’t seeking a nomadic herding holiday, the emirate has evolved a little over the last five millennia. After gaining independence from the UK in 1971, Abu Dhabi paved the way for the UAE’s modernisation, attracting international investment to its oil rich shores, culminating in the modern Middle Eastern metropolis we see today. However, luxury hotel provider, Anantara are with us when we say that Abu Dhabi’s real beauty lies in the diversity of its awe-inspiring Arabian scenery. To really get the most out of the UAEs largest emirate, you need to mix things up a little.
This appreciation is reflected across Anantara’s five Abu Dhabi resorts. Three of those resorts are situated on the other-worldly Sir Bani Yas Island, which is home to the largest nature reserve in the UAE. The country’s first president banned hunting on the island in 1977 and restricted tourist visits to weekends only. Tours to Sir Bani Yas became so popular, due to its unparalleled tranquillity and wealth of wildlife, visits would have to be booked over a year in advance. Almost forty years since Sheikh Zayed’s ‘Greening of the Desert’ programme began, several million trees have been planted, along with the introduction of numerous animal species and, although the project is still ongoing, it has been so successful that the island is now open to visitors full time.
Anantara Al Yamm Villa Resort
On the east coast of Sir Bani Yas, are the exceptional Al Yamm villas. This collection of rustic retreats offer beachfront luxury and seclusion with sublime morning views of the rising Arabian sun. With the beach in front of you and Abu Dhabi’s richest nature reserve in your backyard, you have the freedom to kick back and relax or lose yourself in the wild. Along with nature walks, mountain biking and archery, there’s also a water sports centre for days of adrenalizing aquatic fun. Al Yamm Villas offer the ultimate Abu Dhabi beach break.
Anantara Al Sahel Villa Resort
Set within the lush, scenic open plains of the Sir Bani Yas Wildlife Reserve itself, Al Sahel villas present the wonderful paradox of back to basics luxury. Here you can immerse yourself in nature from the comfort of a subtle and chic Arabian cottage, graced by the presence of curious creatures grazing on your doorstep. Its westerly location makes it an ideal spot to catch the sunset, as well as offering the same active land and water sport pursuits as its east coast cousin.
Anantara Desert Islands Resort & Spa
On the island’s north coast, Anantara provide a more traditional resort experience, encompassing a range of leisure facilities along with a serene spa, where you can receive exotic treatments while overlooking the clear waters of the Persian Gulf. Excursions and activities include deep sea fishing, nature walks and wildlife drives, kayaking and snorkelling. The benefits of staying in the resort, as opposed to Anantara’s villas, are both leisurely and culinary in nature, with four different restaurants and bars to choose from as well as the innovative ‘Dine by Design’ experience, where you choose the location and cuisine of your meal to help the resorts chefs in providing a supremely romantic experience.
Anantara Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort
Almost two hundred miles from Abu Dhabi’s wild and wonderful Sir Bani Yas Island, nestled deep amongst the dunes of the desert sands, lies the unique Arabian Oasis of Qasr Al Sarab. This is a place to escape and unwind. Much like how the nomadic Bedouin tribesmen of old sought respite in the natural desert oasis of Liwa, you too can find peace and rest in this haven, amongst the beguiling beauty of its barren surroundings. Whether you’re enjoying a rejuvenating treatment, overlooking the desert or taking pleasure in acquainting yourself with the traditional Arabian pastimes of camel trekking, horse riding and falconry, the vastness of the dunes, as they seemingly stretch into infinity over the horizon, creates a sense of time standing still. As it has done for thousands of years, the Liwa Oasis offers the perfect place to recharge, making the stresses of everyday life feel an entire world away.
Anantara Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa
Of course, a visit to Abu Dhabi wouldn’t be complete without visiting the UAE’s capital city itself. Just five minutes from its downtown area, Anantara Eastern Mangroves Hotel and Spa sits on the eastern fringe of the city, perfectly placed between the urban sprawl of Abu Dhabi and its Mangrove National Park. Its peripheral location gives you a choice between a picturesque cityscape and views of the lush mangroves from your balcony. Nearby attractions include Ferrari World – the world’s biggest indoor Ferrari museum, Abu Dhabi Mall, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the majestic Emirates Palace. With five dining options to choose from, run by a friendly and dedicated staff, Antara Eastern Mangroves Hotel and Spa is the perfect platform from which to explore this vibrant and exciting Emirate.
So, with all of this in mind, why only visit one part of Abu Dhabi? Anantara’s diverse resorts are at hand to help you discover its most fascinating facets.