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Al Sahel Villa Resort, Abu Dhabi

16 June 2015

Words: Mark Evans Image: Anantara

A hotel complex in a nature reserve seems like it could be one of those novelty UAE ideas, but the Anantara resort, on Sir Bani Yas Island, is very much in the midst of a working wildlife preserve.

The island – 9km offshore from Jebel Dhanna (around two hours’ drive from Abu Dhabi) – was developed as wildlife preserve in 1977 by HH Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Careful conservation since has seen the island become a stunning nature enclave, where giraffe and Arabian Oryx run free. The resort is split between a hotel and villas, with the villas inside a fenced area, allowing animals to wander past, with the more dangerous animals safely inside another ringed fence.

The villas are Arabian in feel, with luxury touches including a bath that you could spend all day in and a private plunge pool, but the star is very much the location. Sat on the terrace as a sand gazelle strolls past, it feels like life couldn’t get much more serene.

desert.islands.antara.com

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