It may be just a short watery hop from the mainland of western Abu Dhabi but the reputation of this revered island resort inspires an air of mystery.
Al Yamm Villas are a stunning collection of 30 one and two-bedroom properties - 16 beachfront and 14 overlooking a mangrove lagoon - offering swift access to golden sand and warm waters with enough space between each to promote privacy, bar the occasional wading flamingo.
It adds up to one of the most exclusive, yet affordable, romantic locations on the Gulf coast and an indulgent way to unwind.
Designed to blend with the coastal location, each villa is a stylish affair internally with a grasp of traditional Emirati values beside utterly modern expectations. Inspired use of wood and fabrics blends the essence of the region’s heritage with five-star touches, making both bedroom, with its swooshing overhead fan, and stunning bathroom dynamic yet homely.
Much of this is overshadowed, however, by the outlook beyond the patio doors and the wooden terrace that wraps around the rear of the villa. A deep, sandy beach beckons barefoot walks and early morning swims.
Meaning “the sea”, Al Yamm was informed by the dwellings of the pearl divers and fishermen who used to shelter on the island. And there are three choices; a standard beach villa, seven larger family villas with private plunge pool or a two-bedroom ‘luxury villa’, 150 sq metres, again with secluded plunge pool.
Here you will find the guest services desk, where you can arrange in-villa dining, and Olio, a poolside restaurant specializing in Italian cuisine, indoors and al fresco.
Seclusion and tranquility make Al Yamm a different prospect to the longer established Sir Bani Yas destination, the Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara.
Further along the shoreline from the newcomers, it comprises 64 rooms, suites and one/two bedroom villas with uncluttered views.
The setting, layout and corridors awash with antiques and eclectic artwork and furniture summon a colonial feel. But it is a more laid back, family-orientated outlook that prevails; there’s a Kids & Teens Club and paddock pony rides to be enjoyed while the Anantara spa offers parent pampering via on-trend therapies and ancient “healing” rituals.
Anantara resorts are never short on dining options, and the remoteness of the geography here in no way restricts choice. On your decision list are signature restaurant Samak (Arabic for fish), Al Shams and The Palm, an airy main-building eatery serving local and international cuisine. Amwaj, meanwhile, is a refreshing new addition, situated near to the water sports centre and offering a tapas-style experience where only views compete with imaginative presentation.
And at least now you can get there by plane as well as boat. Rotana Air offer reasonably priced, frequent luxury jet connections from Dubai International Airport, Terminal 2, and Abu Dhabi International Airport. Alternatively, board one of the regular boat transfers from Anantara’s Sir Bani Yas jetty at Jebel Dhanna - up to three hours by road from Abu Dhabi island.
Regardless of the route you choose, the reward is a Middle Eastern experience that is hard to compare with wildlife or the ocean as your neighbour.
For more on Anantara Desert Islands Resort and Al Sahel Villas and conference facilities, visit