At nature’s expense: The Desert Islands Resort and Spa
Desert Islands Resort and Spa is Abu Dhabi’s newest hotel. It’s gorgeous, stylish and well serviced. It’s also built on one of the UAE’s most revered nature reserves.
October 23, 2008 12:47 by Louis
As the global financial crisis ripped through the foundations of established economies, Abu Dhabi launched its latest high-end boutique hotel: Desert Islands Resort and Spa on Sir Bani Yas island. On October 1, non-royal guests were allowed on the island for the first time; previously, only UAE royals were given access to the nature reserve.
The hotel is unlike the UAE’s usual five-star offerings. Steering clear of the tried and tested formula of building enormous, flashy hotels, the Abu Dhabi government has invested in a highly stylized boutique lodge likened to Oman’s The Chedi, Muscat. The Desert Islands Resort and Spa is being operated by Anantara resorts, which has built its reputation running quality hotels in the Far East.
So far so good, until you consider that the 64-room Desert Islands Resort and Spa is located on one of the last remaining nature reserves in the country. The island is home to over 160 species of wild animals, including the endangered Arabian oryx. Sir Bani Yas also boasts approximately 36 archeological sites dating back to 340 AD. In a country where a building constructed in the 1960s is considered a historical, these archeological sites are no doubt crucial to the nation’s history.
William Heinecke, the chief executive of Minor, the company that owns Anantara resorts insists that “the impact that this hotel will have with only 64 rooms is very small, but what it will do for the entire Middle East is give it a conservation project that exists nowhere else,” according to The National.
Although it is commendable that the local government is keen on establishing destination hotels that offer more than the average poolside cocktail and themed buffet, the Desert Islands Resort and Spa exists today at the expense of the Sir Bani Yas island’s long-held inviolability.
There is no doubt the hotel will effect the island negatively. The question is: how?