Bringing a gorgeous slice of the Cyclades to the Ghantoot shorefront…

Off the E11 sits Ghantoot, some 30 minutes from Dubai Marina. A quiet enclave of shorefront, Ghantoot’s main claim to fame is as the former home of iconic Ibiza beach club, Blue Marlin, which closed in 2019. But there’s a new destination set to put Ghantoot back on the map, and it’s a beautiful boutique retreat inspired by the whitewashed villages of the Cyclades. From Anantara Hotels comes Anantara Santorini Abu Dhabi Retreat, an adults-only, 22-room hotel bringing a new style of hospitality to the emirates.


While the resort’s address is technically Abu Dhabi, Ghantoot is closer to Dubai. You take the Ghantoot Exit 399 off the Dubai-Abu Dhabi road, then it’s about 15 minutes drive through expansive plains of desert that make you feel like you’ve taken a wrong turn, before the unmistakable whitewashed facade of the resort emerges.

Look and feel

It’s as close to experiencing the Cyclades as you’ll get without hopping on the six-hour flight to Santorini or Mykonos. The buildings, in beautiful white stone, are all curved lines and split levels, designed to replicate the hotel’s moniker destination with pretty magenta bougainvillea plants and olive trees dotted throughout the grounds. Endless shades of white are laced with light woods and soft shades of turqouise inspired by the coastline, which can be enjoyed from almost every room thanks to the big French windows that flood all the spaces with bright natural light.


There’s just 22 rooms split between three categories, and the Fira Sea View Room we check-in to is a spacious 44 square metres, with a king sized bed, comfy sofa, and a dressing area where you’ll find a Nespresso machine and a dresser. The bathroom is well stocked with Anantara and Amouage amenities, and although there’s no bath, the large rainshower is ideal for an adults-only room, and we wrap ourselves in the fluffy cotton bath sheets after a hot shower in a way that feels like a warm hug. Our favourite part is the terrace that gazes out to the beach and sea, with a day bed tucked away in the corner where we’d happily curl up and listen to the waves roll onto the beach rhythmically.


Due its more remote location, if you’re checking-in here, you’ll likely be spending most of your time on property. Bringing true Cyclades serenity to the centre of the resort is an inviting infinity pool, lined with loungers in soft natural shades and a collection of day beds, acoustic pop tunes provide a quiet, relaxing backdrop. Although not in operation on our visit, there’s a swim-up bar where guests can enjoy refreshing sips without leaving the temperature-controlled water. If you prefer background music in the form of gently lapping waves, pull up a seat on the beach and work on your tan with your toes in the sand. The resort is all about relaxation and serenity, so book ahead to make use of the small spa, where there’s a single treatment room for signature massages that are pampering and energising in equal measure. There’s a hammam, sauna and plunge pool to use at the spa too. Around every corner, seating areas and cosy living rooms fitted with super-sized TVs and tables stacked with coffee table books provide lovely indoor spaces to kick back.

Food and drink

There’s two restaurants to dine at. Breakfast is served at Oia Oasis, which sits pretty at the poolside, and serves up a neat menu of breakfast classics. Forgoing the wasteful buffet, you order everything a la carte, including a basket of warm pastries, and sweet options such as the fruity acai bowl, or an eggs benedict that comes with a creamy hollandaise and generous slivers of smoked salmon. For dinner, Greek eats with wider Mediterranean influence are served by the beach at Thelassa. The restaurant indoors is nautically-designed, but the best tables are dotted across the terrace. The most romantic seat is a table for two set away from the main restaurant on the sand, surrounded by candles and serviced by a dedicated butler. A mosaic of watermelon and feta salad (Dhs95) with drizzles of balsamic is a refreshing way to start, and we enjoy the flavours in the tiger prawn and hokkaido scallop (Dhs250) with edamame puree and sweet potato crisp.


Entry level Oia Sea View Rooms start from Dhs2,106 inclusive of breakfast.


Anantara Santorini sets a new benchmark for boutique stays in the UAE, serving up an authentic Greek escape that feels like a true secluded oasis.

Anantara Santorini Abu Dhabi Retreat, Ghantoot. Tel: (0)4 567 8666.