“Are we there yet?”, I asked Ankit for what was probably the sixth time in the last hour as we passed nothing but sand and the occasional shrub on both sides of the road. I’d been reading up on Jebel Dhanna, a totally off-the-beaten-path, lesser known part of the U.A.E and it was our first time venturing as far out from the cities. And it was far. A 3.5 hours’ drive from Dubai and about 2.5 hours from Abu Dhabi, it’s no wonder that the Western region of the country remains largely unexplored. But is it worth exploring? If you want to see the U.A.E beyond its (deservedly) hyped cities and like the idea of getting lost in a corner of the country that very few (even residents) have seen, the answer is a simple ‘Yes’.
We had the opportunity to stay at the Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort Abu Dhabi, a quiet haven of sorts right on the beautiful Jebel Dhanna beach and a ferry ride away from the desert island of Sir Bani Yas, a wildlife reserve and spa- another spot in the UAE that I’m dying to visit (in the cooler months). Just the secluded and incredibly beautiful beach of the hotel is worth the long drive from Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Add to that their great service, good value for money and their amazing in-house Italian restaurant, and Danat Jebel Dhanna is easily a good choice for a weekend getaway in the UAE. A piece of advice though, visit in cooler weather when you can actually spend more time outdoors and make the most of the gorgeous location.
A long drive from both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Danat Jebel Dhanna is a perfectly good value-for-money choice if you want to explore the Western region and the wildlife reserve of Sir Bani Yas Island or simply relax on the beautiful Jebel Dhanna beach. I mean, if you have a little extra time exploring the UAE, or live here, why wouldn’t you want to get away to a place that looks like this? You can see the different shades of blue in the waters of the Arabian Gulf and I haven’t seen a beach that looks like this anywhere else in the U.A.E.
The best part about my Deluxe Room was easily the amazing view of the Arabian Gulf and the landscaped gardens of the resort. The room was spacious with plenty of natural lighting from the large window, a nice sitting area and a writing desk to get some work done. I liked the classic décor and the use of a soft, warm color palette of beiges and browns, and wood furniture.
When it was too hot for the beach, we decided to cool off in the large swimming pool which was hardly crowded (being the summer months). There’s a nice little pool bar and a separate children’s pool as well. The pool area has a cabana and shaded pods where you can settle in and pull down the shades as much as you like depending on how the sun’s treating you!
Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort has a good number of restaurants, lounges and cafés such as Tides (all-day dining), the fine-dining Italian Zaitoun, L’attitude Restaurant & Bar, C-View Lobby Café, Waves (pool and beach bar) and the Gazebo shisha café.
The award-winning and elegantly decorated Zaitoun served as the perfectly romantic setting for our dinner at Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort. Zaitoun, which translates from Arabic into ‘olive’, had me pretty much impressed from the minute we walked in. Mellow lighting, ornate details, delicate lamps, classic plush white chairs, elaborately draped windows and excellent service, isn’t this what the perfect Italian restaurant should be? And no, I’m not forgetting the food of course!
Their set-menu was simple- Insalata Caprese, Penne Cacciatore, Brushchetta, and Tiramisu. But sometimes simple, when executed to perfection is all you need and it was definitely all we needed. Every course was fantastic and we found ourselves comparing this dinner to our meal at another award-winning Italian restaurant in Dubai the previous night. Guess who won?
And the winner of the Italian dinner showdown is…
The Tides All Day Dining multi-cuisine restaurant serves buffet style breakfast, lunch and dinner in a wide variety of dishes from Lebanese to Indian and Chinese. I have to admit that if I were fond of seafood (which I’m not) I would be seriously impressed by their choice of seafood dishes in the buffet. Apart from the main dishes which were pretty good, I loved the fact that they had plenty of gourmet salads, cold cuts and cold mezze, considering that’s what I was leaning towards during the hot afternoons.
They also had some good Indian breakfast dishes and though I went for my classic eggs and fruits, Ankit who was reminded of childhood mornings of dipping piping hot puris in spicy potato gravy really loved the Indian breakfast.
Body & Soul Recreation Club and Spa
The Body & Soul Recreation Club features a fully equipped gym but this being our weekend (read no-workout days), we chose to experience the spa instead. The spa was a simple no-nonsense affair of a really good massage (you can choose from a range of treatments) so much that I dozed off midway to the sound of oriental music during my 30-minute session.
Service was both prompt and friendly throughout the hotel but I’d have to say that our servers at Zaitoun were especially wonderful. They were well-informed, warm and attentive.
Danat Jebel Dhanna is an ideal and affordable resort for both couples and families, and also for solo guests traveling in the UAE or taking a weekend break. If you’re visiting Jebel Dhanna from Dubai, I wouldn’t recommend making a day trip of it because you’d be spending almost eight hours driving. And once you’d get to the beautiful beach, wouldn’t you rather spend a night (or two) at the luxurious Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort and enjoy the location?
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For general information to help you plan your trip to the UAE or Dubai in particular, including money-saving advice and recommendations for off-the-beaten-path day trips from Dubai, culture in Abu Dhabi, cool hotels, or popular places of interest such as the Dubai Miracle Garden and At The Top Burj Khalifa, check out my UAE Travel Blog.
Disclosure: We stayed as guests of Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort. All opinions are honest and independent.