This resort has been on the radar even before it opened last January 1, 2015. A banana-shaped island about 30 minutes by ferry from Doha city center, this place was developed to exude the luxury of Maldives. If you cant afford to bask in Maldives’ glory, then this place could be for you.
The closest occasion to celebrate and the best reason to splurge is on my birthday. Co-celebrating it with my friend’s husband who shares the occasion, we knew then that it is almost 100% on. Will it be too hot for it will be in the middle of summer? Will it be boring as it will be in the middle of Ramadan?
My friend and I started to reconsider this plan as the birthday(s) are drawing near. Fortunately, it was also a chance to get to be culturally acquainted with Ramadan, as Banana Island is offering a Ramadan package 🙂 With iftar and suhour meals included in the package and a guaranteed late check-out, this seems to be a good deal.
And so it is, we booked the rooms and soon found our way to Al Shyoukh Terminal along the corniche to catch the 1:30pm catamaran ride to the resort.
As with the exterior of the terminal, the inside is sophisticated and impressive which could rival lobbies of 5-star rated hotels. At the forefront are check-in counters where bookings are verified and catamaran boarding passes are printed. Inside is the waiting area for departure. It is cozy and I think it may be worth it to come a little bit earlier than your desired departure just to lounge around. Note that valet parking is offered in the terminal. Your luggages will be taken care of by porters and you can collect them in the resort, making everything convenient.
At 1:32pm, we sailed off to Banana Island. The catamaran is impressive, with amenities similar to a plane. It was a 30-minute ride and we soaked ourselves with the view outside.
Staff from the resort were at the dock to welcome us with Banana Island’s signature greeting “as-salamu alaykum” while drawing their fist on their chest. Porters got busy hauling the luggages and we set off to the airy and cozy Reception Welcome Center.
Inside the Reception Welcome Center, all check-in counters were busy and we were the last ones to be attended to. My friend requested for an early check-in when she called the day before so that’s why we arrived much earlier than the 3pm standard check-in time.
Here’s where I celebrated my birthday and here’s what I loved about the stay:
- My room! It is so cozy and comfortable. It is huge and has a terrace facing the beach. I have to note that the bathroom is nice too. The TUB. And I mean the biggest tub I have bathed in…
This is my friend’s villa (deluxe room). The bedroom is nice, bright, airy and uniquely designed, the bathroom reminded me of Bali. However, the view from the balcony is just the sea and is obstructed by a fence, so for this, I would prefer my room.
2. My terrace. It helped that it wasn’t too hot even if it is midsummer. I was able to enjoy the view and just chillaxing in the bed.
- The relaxing feel of the resort. Despite a series of unfortunate events and booboos of the hotel crew, I still found myself enjoying the place. It is tranquil, stress-free (if not for the stress caused by the hotel itself). Or was it because it was my birthday and I didn’t want anyone/anything to ruin it for me?
Despite the hotel undergoing a lot of construction of new facilities, the facilities open were enough to keep us occupied the whole stay. We didn’t even get to try bowling, the cinema and the SPA! (I’m afraid my budget was running low then)
- The resort staff who were great individually. You can see how they really want to please and deliver the best customer service, but falling short bigtime (more on that on my next post).
What the heck! It was my birthday and I wouldn’t want to feel shortchanged for my hard-earned money. But somehow I do. If not having my friends around, I would have cried feeling cheated (hehehe)…
The resort has a potential to be Doha’s premier resort hotel, just how it was packaged just by considering its price. Right now, I (and my company too) think that Banana Island isn’t there yet. We read several blogs about poor customer service by Anantara, months have passed since they opened, and we are still writing about a dismal performance.
Happy birthday to me, anyway! It was happy in its own unique way, and I guess despite the booboos and troubles, considering it still a good day is what’s important.