Places to Stay: Al Sahel Resort – Sir Bani Yas Island, UAE

Name:  Al Sahel Villa Resort by Anantara

Location:  Sir Bani Yas Island – United Arab Emirates

Description:  Al Sahel mimics the best Africa has to offer with its thatched-roofed villas, and décor elements that makes one feel as if one is at a safari lodge tucked away in the African wilderness. The 5-star resort is elegant and luxurious, but in an understated way. There is nothing flashy or stuffy about the resort, yet every single detail has been thought of, and your every wish will be met by the attentive staff. Al Sahel is one of three Anantara resorts on the island, but is the only one located within the 41 square kilometre Nature Reserve. It is designed to mimic the African savannah, and the villas border and embrace an expanse of grassland dotted with acacia trees, from where gazelle appear and disappear to graze amongst the villas.

The 30 luxury villas are spacious with enormous beds that are so comfortable it is hard to get up in the morning. Each villa has its own plunge pool that is either heated in winter or cooled in summer to the perfect temperature, and is thus a wonderful place to relax in. Although there is a fair amount of privacy, many plants that were planted to act as screens have not yet grown tall enough for their intended purpose. The main building with the reception, bar, verandah, restaurant, and communal pool area is flanked by two rows of villas on either side built like arms reaching out to embrace the tall savannah grass in the middle.

Surroundings:  Sir Bani Yas Island is a resort destination with three very different Anantara Resorts nestling in three unique locations. Al Yamm’s 30 luxury villas face the rising sun, and are built on the beach. Stepping off one’s front porch, the soft beach sand tickles one’s feet, and the warm water of the Gulf is a couple of metres away.

The Desert Islands Resort and Spa was built first, and is a typical resort hotel with 64 rooms and suites, and  an enormous infinity swimming pool flanked by a selection of restaurants.

It is easy to visit the different resorts and restaurants by hopping on and off a bus that travels between these according to a specific schedule, or one can simply ask for a car and driver.

There are a variety of activities on offer, ranging from kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, wild life drives, and even a cultural and history tour, which should all be booked in advance at reception. Partaking in one or more of these activities affords one the opportunity to see a bit more of the island, which has a fascinating history. The drivers and guides are all eager to impart this knowledge and various facts about the island.

What makes the resort special:  The staff are well-trained, and the service is discreet, yet warm and of the highest standard. If you want to experience 5-star pampering and feel like royalty, this is the place to come to. It is also a destination that is very unique within the borders of the UAE.

Food:  The Savannah Grill with its African inspired menu serves excellent food. The lunch and dinner menus differ from one another, so even if you have all your meals here, you will not run out of options. Presentation and taste are both of a very high standard. Breakfasts are scrumptuous, and although buffet style, it does not resemble the normal hotel fair.


How to get there:  Fly to Sir Bani Yas with Rotana Jet, or drive to the jetty at Jebel Dhana from where you can take a water taxi that is complimentary for all Anantara guests. When flying out to the island one needs one’s passport, even when one has a residence visa for the UAE. An Emirates ID is not accepted. When arriving on the island one is greeted with hot/cold face towels and a bottle of cold water. A driver escorts one efficiently to the waiting Land Cruiser, before he sorts out one’s luggage without a fuss.

Call the resort for more information or to book: Central Reservation Office: +971 2 656 1399 or email


The Villa

Savannah Restaurant

Around the Property


From the Air: Abu Dhabi City, Along the coast, Sir Bani Yas Island