The Sir Banyas Island, Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Abdel-Krim Kallouche/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Sir Bani Yas Island has won the World’s Leading Sustainable Tourism Destination Award in the 2014 World Travel Awards in Anguilla.

Sir Bani Yas, an 87-square kilometre natural reserve located 250 kilometres off the coast of Abu Dhabi, was initially developed into a wildlife reserve by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Today, it serves as a home for more than 13,000 free roaming animals and birds.

With a dedicated team of environmentalists and a number of breeding programmes for the wildlife, the island was able to achieve the late Shaikh Zayed’s vision.

“This esteemed award reaffirms all of our efforts to maintain the island’s ecological and conservation legacy even as we develop it into a globally recognised tourist destination that offers luxurious and unique experiences for both visitors and guests,” said Ali Majid Al Mansouri, Tourism Development and Investment Company’s Chairman of the Board.

The island features three high-end resorts managed by Anantara Hotels giving tourists a variety of options to choose from. Visitors have the option to stay at the Al Sahel Villa resort to enjoy the company of around 10,000 free roaming animals or Al Yamm Villa resort situated on the eastern sandy shores of the island.

“The origin of the island in its geological make-up is that it’s natural salt domes,” said Mark Eletr, Cluster General Manager for Anantara Resorts. “It’s an important local destination and the Emirati people have been visiting the island for many years.”

Anantara Hotels offer visitors an array of activities allowing them to explore what the island has to offer such as kayaking, snorkelling, wildlife drives, mountain biking, archeological site tours and much more.

— Maria Botros is a trainee at Gulf News