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At nature’s expense: The Desert Islands Resort and Spa

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

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?

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  1. Michael in Dubai on October 26, 2008 9:08 am

    Hey there Kipper! Have you ever been to a well run nature reserve?? They do exist. Aplenty. Your snide comment: “There is no doubt the hotel will effect the island negatively,” does NOTHING to promote the idea that the island can sustain both animals and people who visit their artificial habitat. Think of Sir Bani Yas as a kind of Jurassic Park, if you will. Without the danger. Nobody gets on to the island without a reservation at the Lodge. So the idea of pollutant day.trippers is out, and the idea that people who do got to the island will scatter their garbage all over it is kinda depressing, so lets assume thats not going to happen. I think you need a holiday, Kipp. Try a couple of days on the island, to get your bounce back, baby. ;0)

  2. Kavita Bhatia on October 26, 2008 9:52 am

    I completely agree with Michael. I was amongst the first few to go to the island & trust me it is not at all what Kipp writes. The invited guests are all high-end educated people who do know that they are in a wild life conservation & would not pollute. i would elaborate on this with an instance.When we visted the various animal enclosures we were taken around in a safe * secure van with loads of cold drinks & whilst leaving it we were asked to deposit all the plastic waste that will go to arecycling plant. Hence as suggested by Michael, I too agree that Kipp needs to visit the resort to give a more fairer view of the same.


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