Dubai's luxury island where every room opens onto a private beach
Stepping off the speedboat onto the soft white sand dotted with lush tropical greenery, it might be easy to mistake this resort for Bali or the Maldives.
It is in fact part of the latest in Dubai's attention-grabbing mega-projects, Anantara World Islands, tucked just 15 minutes away from the city's shoreline.
The resort is the first to open on the World Islands, an archipelago of 300 islands in the shape of, as its name suggests, the world. Think Dubai's very own Hamptons on the Persian Gulf.
Anantara World Islands Dubai Resort is Anantara's second resort in the city after its inaugural property on Palm Jumeirah, the man-made island project by developers Nakheel, and is every bit as luxurious as befits the glitzy city, now home to some of the world's most extravagant hotels.
Unlike Palm Jumeirah, the resort on the "South American" Coronation Island is totally secluded, with access by a James Bond-style speedboat trip.
Nobody can get onto the island without registering their passport, making sure that those who come, including royalty, are guaranteed the utmost privacy and security. A helipad will also soon open on the island.
Blending the chain's Thai roots with the essence of Emirati tradition, the resort, now the new ultra private playground for the rich and famous, is elegant and stylish. Natural finishings are contoured with elements of nature and landscaping came at no expense spared.
Eight hundred and fifty coconut trees have been brought from Oman, as well as 500 palms and another 4,000 or more other tropical and desert native flora. A greenhouse is also growing a variety of tropical fruit trees while a giant bird cage is now home to around 200 tropical birds to breed the island's own native colony, in addition to the 12 feisty peacocks strutting around the site.
Dubai's hottest new address
A giant chandelier made from hundreds of oyster shells hangs majestically within the pergola structure in which new guests are welcomed, twinkling in the wind and paying tribute to the UAE's pearl-diving history.
The resort has 70 keys, with 40 of those being pool villas. In spite of there being much to do here -- from tennis to spa treatments, a state-of-the-art gym, cinema under the stars and water sports -- our guide, Dev Panjala, tells us most people come to eat, rest, relax. It is, he says, an urban escape for those who can.
"People are happy to come here and enjoy the room, the pool, the beach," he says. "It's all about the relaxation."
The World project has been almost two decades in the making. First announced by Nakheel in 2003 with construction completed in 2008, it was beset by a series of hiccups including the global recession and practical challenges such as getting water and electricity to the islands.
The multi-billion dollar mega-project was the brainchild of Dubai businessman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman and CEO of DP World, who also has a home on the island, but it's not only the rich and famous who can enjoy Dubai's hottest new address.
With rates starting from $440+ for the ocean view rooms with balconies, the new Anantara resort is on a par with many of the higher-end properties in the city, only every room is just steps away from the sand.
For a taste of ultra-luxury, guests can snap up one of the 424-square-meter four-bedroom Beach Pool Villas that go for up to $9,800 a night. The secluded beachfront properties feel more like guests are on a private island than at a resort.
Important Update: MetroExpress Service ONLY Available via Karwa Taxi App from June 24
WhatsApp lets users hide profile photo, last seen from specific people
Box Office: Pixar's 'Lightyear' Underwhelms With $51 Million Debut as 'Jurassic World' Stays No. 1
Qatar ranks number one most peaceful country in Arab World