Fancy a luxury and/or romantic getaway to the Maldives, Mauritius or Seychelles? (Ok, I haven’t been to the Seychelles yet!) …. but look no further than 20 minutes from Doha to…. Banana Island!
It’s not the Maldives, but it’s not that far off…Having been to the Maldives twice (The One and Only and the Anantara), I have had a taste of the good stuff and Doha’s little island of luxury will transport you right out of the desert and into a family friendly paradise!
Most recently (my second visit) was for half term. We were looking at different travel options but a lot of the destinations were either out of our budget for a short trip, too far on a plane or out of season. So, we decided to go for Banana Island, at the time we felt like we had to ‘settle’ on our staycation…but our expectations were more than met.
We left home from The Pearl and arrived at the Rashid Port on the Corniche, a simple process followed: valeting the car, handing over luggage and checking in at the port, all took less than 15 minutes. The kids were kept busy with coloring crayons (provided by the friendly hotel staff) whilst we were sipping Arabic coffee and yummy dates. A few minutes later our boat was ready (we timed it to make sure we checked in just ahead of the next boat, usually every 30 mins).
With boat tickets in hand we hopped on and embarked on our short and smooth journey to the island. Door to door in just over an hour!
Once arriving on the island, you’re either shown to your room or if it’s not ready then you are free to roam the island and begin using the facilities. we did the latter as we arrived earlier than check in (3pm). The island hosts a number of things to do, for all ages.
Having stayed in a villa on our first visit, this time we decided to book a Junior suite. The room was in a fairly good location (not too far from the pool) and it was stunning, with a generous amount of space for the boys to move about comfortably, and a large outdoor seating area, we fell in love with it all and settled in fairly quickly.
We began our trip by having lunch poolside at Q Lounge. The Indian-cum-International fusion menu and dishes were delicious, if you are to visit this restaurant, then check it out after 5pm as they have a spectacular floating deck with an amazing view of the ocean!
The island hosts only 5 dining options, we tried them all, service and food were excellent all round. Ted’s Diner was a great spot for the kid’s lunch and afternoon ice cream…the breakfast restaurant (Cro-loaf…amazing!) serves a buffet all day long and a yummy authentic Italian restaurant too. The options are completed with Banana Island’s signature Arabic restaurant An-Naham which had the best Arabic food we’ve had in Doha.
Besides the food, the stunning beach, Jacuzzis and the main pool there are countless activities for all ages, adults, kids and families together. We didn’t hold back at all, and we made the most of it and did as much as we could.
We spent a majority of our stay in the kid’s pool area, it was shallow enough for the kids to explore around, and between the slides and the sprinkler, we found it pretty difficult to tear the boys away. Close by to the pool on the beach was a little park set up for the kids, so combined with the pool/beach it ticks all the boxes for a family holidaying with young children.
As well as the pool, the husband and I decided to be a little adventurous and booked a session on the surf pool simulator (150QR each for 30 mins). I’m usually a very cautious person, but this experience was brilliant, although our skills were close to awful, we hadn’t laughed this much in a while. ps. be warned my body ached for days following this, the impact of the water was very strong, but I would do it all over again, it was that fun. Another water activity we tried out with the kids was in a controlled part of the sea using a pedalo boat, although we probably did it at peak heat time, the lower body workout was well worth it.
At no point did we feel bored, when not in the water, the boys, along with the husband and I were entertained in the teens club or kids club. In the teens club, the activities included games consoles, foosball, air hockey and a mini cinema. Whereas in the kid’s club, the boys kept themselves entertained in the huge soft play area, and activities prepared by the staff.
If that wasn’t enough, the island also has its bowling alley (30QR per person, per game), and another mini cinema (free) which hosted a more varied genre of movies than the teens club.
You, me, us, time.
The island has many spots where you can relax and unwind, an entire building, the ‘Wellness centre’ is made with this in mind. I couldn’t do it but the husband managed to walk through the foot therapy pebble pool, as I sat back and relaxed in the relaxation gardens (with the chatter of the boys in the background of course!)…I was fortunate enough to get a little break away from being a mum, and was able to book a massage in for myself at the spa; the staff and the experience, made me leave feeling refreshed and ready for an evening with the husband (with the kids fast asleep in their strollers; the hotel and staff were very accommodating to them).
Overall, the stay was much better than we had expected (our first experience 3 years ago didn’t go as well). This time from our room, the food, facilities and service exceeded our expectations. Besides being a touch scared to see our final bill, the money we saved on flights, we were able to spend a little more here to enjoy it to the fullest.
I genuinely keep wondering why it took so long for us to go back again!
As for a recommendation, I would highly recommend a visit, whether you are a Qatar resident, or you’re passing through Doha, it’s most definitely worth the trip and I hope you have just as or an even better visit than ours. Although we managed to fit a lot in over our 3 day stay, we still didn’t manage to do everything there was available on the island, but there’s always next time. We already can’t wait to visit back again.
*Side note: I was not sponsored to write this post and haven’t received anything for free. If you want to see what else the island offers then do check out the hotels website (click here)