Anantara World Islands Dubai Resort: A slice of the Maldives in Dubai

Located approximately four kilometers off the Palm Jumeirah, Islands of the Anantara world Dubai Resort was the first hotel to open on the emirate’s ambitious offshore project.

The luxury retreat, located on the South American mainland of the World’s Island Development, is unlike anything already in the United Arab Emirates.

The National has been invited for a stay to see what awaits him on the island.


Arriving at Anantara World Islands is quite a special experience. Guests check in at the hotel’s sister resort, Anantara Dubai, The Palm, and are shown to a dedicated waiting area before a boat transfer to the islands of the world.

Boats run hourly and guests are driven by golf cart to the hotel’s private dock to board their awaiting vessel.

The journey takes about 20 minutes, and although the sea was a little choppy on the day we visited, we still enjoyed the novelty of it all, admiring the surrounding Dubai skyline as we went.

By the time we arrive at the station we already feel a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city, helped by the crew standing on the platform waiting to welcome us with song, instruments and flower necklaces, giving us the sense that we have walked on a tropical island.

While waiting for our bags to be unloaded and our room keys offered to us, we were offered fresh coconut water, which we enjoyed while admiring the view of downtown Dubai directly across the river. ‘water.

The neighborhood

As the first resort to open in the islands of the world, naturally there isn’t much else around. However, that is the charm of this resort. From the minute we arrive we feel like we’ve escaped the city quite well, and if it weren’t for the reflection of the Burj Khalifa in the distance we think we could be in the Maldives – not bad for a 20- minute boat ride.

There are uninterrupted views in all directions and the water surrounding the island is as blue as we saw it in Dubai.


Our One Bedroom Pool and Garden Villa is incredibly spacious. The villas’ triangular design means each has very high ceilings, providing an airy and open feel.

There is a lounge area, with two sofas, which overlooks the pool and the beach beyond.

The huge king-size bed is one of the most comfortable I’ve slept in, helped even more by the huge pillow menu on the bedside table, giving guests the option to customize to their liking.

The bathroom is also extremely spacious, with a double sink, a free-standing bathtub, a huge walk-in shower and a separate toilet.

Decor adds to the resort’s island vibe, with rattan accents, wood-beamed ceilings, and crisp white linens.

There are also plenty of little touches to add extra convenience, like Coffee Planet pods and Pure Herbs toiletries.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the room is the pool deck. The private pool is the perfect size for two people and overlooks part of the hotel’s private beach across the path. There are two plush loungers by the pool, perfect for lounging on an afternoon.

The service

The service is excellent from start to finish. The staff who took us to our room by buggy gave us a quick tour of the resort pointing out all the facilities we need to know about during our stay.

The resort also offers pick-up services to take guests to restaurants and spa appointments, or if you prefer to walk, you can stroll at your own pace.

All of the servers we encounter are incredibly friendly and eager to show off the resort’s offerings, as well as recommend dishes on the menus, which is always welcome.

The scene

The atmosphere of the island is immediate as soon as you get off the boat. The entire resort has a relaxed, bohemian feel, with a tranquility surrounding everything from the public spaces to the rooms. There’s a palm-lined main pool, with bonsai trees that add Anantara’s signature Thai touches. The resort’s private beach allows for long walks along the shore, and the wooden swings only add to the feeling of getting away from it all, and also provide that perfect Instagram moment if you’re so inclined.

There are tennis courts, for those who fancy a match during their stay, as well as a spa if you prefer to sit back and relax, with a range of signature Anantara massages and Thai treatments.

The resident wandering peacocks often roam the rooms and along the beach, so don’t be surprised if they come by to say hello during your stay.

The food

There are three main restaurants on the island. Next to the pool is Helios, Anantara World Islands Dubai Resort’s all-day Mediterranean restaurant. There’s also Luna, a Frida Kahlo-inspired South American lounge located above Helios. Serving tapas and a wide range of drinks, the elevated position of this colorful restaurant guarantees stunning ocean views towards the Dubai skyline.

We dine at Qamar, the resort’s Middle Eastern and Indian restaurant, elegant and romantic without being ostentatious. Its terrace, which overlooks the water, is a peaceful and intimate place, perfect for admiring the sunset.

We skip the starters and head straight for the main courses, because there are a few dishes we want to try. First up is the paneer tikka butter masala (Dh120), which is the perfect blend of creamy and tart. We also order the butter chicken (Dh150) which had a creamy tomato and cashew sauce. It’s wholesome and warming and hits the spot perfectly.

On the recommendation of our waiter, we try the sultan murgh angara (Dh205) – pieces of chicken thighs marinated in the chef’s special masala, slowly cooked in the tandoor and served in an iron pot. Although we couldn’t finish the dish due to its size, the meat is succulent and juicy and perfectly seasoned.

For breakfast, we head to Helios, where we order a la carte and feast on the caramelized French toast, topped with berry compote, creme fraiche and caramel sauce, which is sticky, sweet and perfect for weekend breakfast.

Highs and lows

The only downside was that our room, unlike some others, didn’t have a door to walk through for some privacy in the pool. The villa backed onto the public beach path and although it was fairly quiet during our stay, spotting the odd passerby left us a bit exposed.

A highlight was a bath in the bedroom’s giant tub, which was almost big enough to swim in.

The insider tip

Be sure to plan boat times in advance to ensure you maximize your time at the resort.

The verdict

Anantara World Islands Resort Dubai takes vacation at home to a whole new level.  Photo: Anantara

A weekend at Anantara World Islands truly takes the meaning of a home vacation to a new level. The hotel exudes escapism from the second you board the boat, and even though the Dubai skyline looms on the horizon, you’ll feel a million miles from home.

The bottom line

Room rates start from Dh1,596 for a room with pool on the beach including breakfast. Check-in is from 3:00 p.m. and check-out is at 12:00 p.m.

Updated: November 05, 2022, 12:05 p.m.

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