Friday, 13 February 2015

The middle of the week marked the birthday of one of my very dearest friends, and it was only right that a special friend should celebrate their birthday at a special location.

When Jemma suggested spending her birthday on Banana Island, we knew we would be in for a real treat. Sadly Marion couldn't take the day off work, but we knew we would be catching up with her later that evening for part two of the birthday celebrations.

The newly opened Banana Island Resort Doha is Qatar's answer to the Maldives. A 25 minute luxury catamaran ride from the mainland transports you to a tranquil paradise, so far removed from the hustle and bustle of Doha, that you would be forgiven for thinking that you were in another part of the world altogether.

We arrived at Al Shyoukh Port like two excited children.

We were invited to sit down in the beautiful reception area, whilst our island reservations were checked and our tickets paid for. You must have a reservation at Banana Island to board the catamaran - this can either be a restaurant reservation, or a spa reservation - we were greedy and had both!

You can purchase a day pass for 200 QR which consists of your return boat trip at 50QR, and the remaining 150QR is credit to be put towards either your restaurant bill or your spa treatment.

Paperwork processed, it was time to board the boat! Although not before a scaled down sneak preview of the island...

All aboard!

The catamarans leave every hour, so we hopped aboard the 10am departure and set sail for Banana Island!

Making the most of the empty catamaran, we got snappy happy with our cameras, wanting to document every minute of the day.

As we approached the island, the excitement ramped up!

After a quick stop in the cavernous reception, we hopped in a golf cart and were very kindly taken on a small tour of the island.

First stop, the Wellness Centre.

Home to separate male and female gyms, fitness class studios and treatment rooms, I could certainly imagine time spent here would make you feel very well indeed. The decor was absolutely stunning, and we were more than a little intrigued about what we might have found up here...

Sadly, we were whisked off in the golf cart to finish our tour before we could find out. Next time!

The resort had a very Sri Lankan feel to it with all of the greenery, and beach huts with thatched roofs nestled in amongst the trees.

After saying goodbye to our guide, we set off on foot to explore by ourselves.

Banana Island is home to it's very own cinema. The movie of the afternoon was Dispicable Me 2, and Jemma and I were very kindly allowed to pop in to the theatre to satisfy our curiosity - a generous cinema screen dominated the far wall, faced by rows of comfy sofas and tables.

We headed over to Ted's Diner for a drink, before making our way to the Anantara Spa for our midday treatments, passing the islands miniature golf course en-route.

We were very early for our treatments, so the staff very kindly let us use the jacuzzi, sauna and steam areas whilst we waited, although we found ourselves a spot outside on a giant double sun lounger and made the most of the afternoon sun instead, before heading back inside to don our snazzy spa robes!

We emerged 60 minutes later, pampered and feeling very relaxed. I had opted for the 60 minute back massage (520 QR), during which my lovely therapist worked very hard on kneading the knots from my very tense shoulders and neck. The birthday girl went for the 60 minute Anantara Signature Massage (off the menu, but call up and ask them about this - around 600QR).

Whilst the treatment prices are quite steep, the Anantara Spa itself is beautiful, and the staff are lovely. They really couldn't do enough for us, and we rounded off our treatments by sipping sweet ginger tea in the sunshine before getting ourselves ready for lunch at Q Lounge.

The setting of Q Lounge reminded me so much of the Fortress Hotel in Sri Lanka, where Matt and I stayed on our recent holiday together. An open fronted restaurant, overlooking the pool and the Gulf.

We ordered berry mocktails (Banana Island is a dry resort), and perused the menu.

I found the prices to be so reasonable. For 125QR, you could opt for three items from the world mezze list, which Jemma and I both did - a great way to sample smaller versions of a few of the items on the menu if you can't quite decide on one (which we couldn't!)

I opted for the French omlette with goats cheese, the chicken quesadillas, and black olive tapenade, all of which were absolutely delicious.

Jemma chose the Spanish omlette, glass noodles with prawns, and mini chicken shawarma.

The meal was lovely, and our 150QR credit from our day passes covered the best part of the bill.

There are so many dining options available on Banana Island, but I would love to come back to eat at Q Lounge again. The food was amazing, the staff were so lovely and friendly, and the view was stunning.

I can't wait to bring Matt here for a date night.

We took a stroll along the pier to walk off our lunch, and stopped for some photos with the beautiful Maldives-esque water villas in the background.

I can only imagine what they look like inside!

After a thoroughly relaxing afternoon of pampering and eating, we decided there was only one thing to do before boarding the boat back to reality.


We were expecting a small scale lane or two but no - Banana Island is home to a proper full size bowling alley.

Being a good sport, I let the birthday girl win ;)

I actually lost miserably - Jemma had some bowling skills!

Realising it was a few minutes before the hour, we made a mad dash for the 4pm boat back to the mainland, and set sail back to reality after a magical day on the beautiful Banana Island.

I can safely say, and I know Jemma agrees, that this was one of the best days we have had since arriving in Doha, and I can highly recommend a trip to Banana Island to all Doha dwellers (and any visitors to Doha!)

Back on dry land, we hopped in a car home to get ready for part two of the birthday celebrations - but that is a blog post for another time :)

Note: Banana Island requires couples to produce a marriage certificate to stay overnight at the resort.


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