When I first arrived in Doha more than eight years ago, Banana Island was a well worn stop on the show boat route for jet skiers and partiers.
But a lot can happen in eight years (leaving my 30s is one of those things) and now the island has been redeveloped into an exquisite resort – Banana Island by Anantara
The island is a a 25 minute luxury ferry ride away (QR200 with QR100 credit for dining or free if you are an in house guest) from the Doha port. With a check in area and valet parking, the feeling of taking a trip starts here.
Once on the island, you can see from parts the new Doha airport, but there is little aircraft noise and frankly, you could be anywhere (save for the rampant humidity).
Greeted off the ferry, you are checked in and whisked to your room. I had been upgraded to an Anantara suite which was larger than my actual apartment. It also had direct access to the beach, a bathroom to covet and a huge amount of privacy.
I have been asked by many about the lack of alcohol on the Island. Yes, it’s dry but for two days and considering the amount of activities and good food available, it’s not really missed.
Activity wise, there is a bowling alley, a wave pool, water sports, a putting green, a beach and two pools plus a movie theater. So little time to think about the lack of a margarita.
With eight restaurants on the Island including an Italian, an Arabic family restaurant, a juice bar and a grill so you also won’t go hungry.
We dined at Teds, the American style diner for our first meal. With cheerful staff and a menu focussing on salads, burgers, shakes and hot dogs, I was always going to be a fan. My hot dog came with coleslaw on the side and juicy (beef) sausage.
Over the two days we returned several times to Q Lounge which is a fusion restaurant featuring a menu of mediterranean, Arabic and Indian classics.
A highlight for me was a mixed seafood ceviche that had the right amount of heat. Special mention must go to their breakfast buffet – much quieter than the main restaurant and with quirky touches like a honey bar and a selection of international salts.
It wouldn’t have been a staycation without some spa action, and this is where the Anantara brand excels. A huge spa with over water treatment rooms, a hammam and well trained staff, I floated away during my 90 minute treatment and had to be brought back to earth.
This was my first time at an Anantara resort and I suspect that the friendliness of the staff is a reflection on the brand. Without fail staff were helpful, polite, greeted us by name and dare I say, genuinely happy. This is rare.
It was a wrench to leave the Island, but my day job beckoned. I returned refreshed, relaxed and I didn’t even have to book a plane fare.
Banana Island, Qatar
Tel: +974 4040 5050