Top 10: world’s most luxurious desert retreats

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (July 20, 2015): Top 10 most luxurious desert retreats in the world.

The desert is a magical place, offering shimmering vistas, intense colours, huge dunes, tranquillity, clear skies, bright stars, and magical experiences. No wonder that a desert break is high on the bucket list of every discerning traveler. I hereby present you my selection of the 10 most luxurious desert resorts in the world.

There is more info below the slide show. Think I missed one? Share your favorite desert retreat in the comments section, or take my poll below!

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*** TRAVEL TIP: how to get the best deal at a luxury hotel & save money ***


10. THE RITZ-CARLTON DOVE MOUNTAIN, ARIZONA, USA

With an ability to embody the heart and soul of its spectacular Sonoran Desert surroundings, The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain offers a sanctuary of natural beauty framed against the Tortolita Mountains. As the only resort in Arizona to receive a ‘Forbes 5-Star Hotel’ rating, this luxury resort allows guests to discover how easy it is to be inspired by the land revered by the Hohokam Indian inhabitants of centuries past.  The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain invites you to come experience world-class hiking in the desert, which is cradled by five mountain ranges, and is the only destination on earth where the mighty Saguaro cacti grow.

  • Hotel websiteThe Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso  (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast breakfast, $100 USD resort credit, early check-in, and late check-out).
  • Review: to read my review of The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain, click here.


9. LONGITUDE 131°, AUSTRALIA

Longitude 131° is a transcendent experience of discovery, located in the spirited heart of Australia. Facing majestic Uluru, Longitude 131° commands spectacular views of the outback icon and World Heritage listed wilderness of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Crouched in the lee of a red sand dune and set among desert oaks and spinifex, the 15 luxury tented pavilions of Longitude 131° are dwarfed by the majesty of the landscape.  Here, you can delve into the foundation of Anangu culture and explore their irresistible land. Luxurious and unfettered, Longitude 131° will make your senses come alive.


8. LITTLE KULALA,NAMIBIA

Little Kulala is situated in the private Kulala Wilderness Reserve and consists of 11 climate-controlled, thatched “kulalas” (the word means ‘to sleep’) which merge impeccably into the desert landscape, each with private plunge pool. An elegant entertainment area includes a library, wine cellar, craft boutique, lounge and dining areas. Little Kulala’s interiors make use of neutral colours, gorgeous textures and natural light and takes its inspiration from its surroundings, notably from the magnificent Dead Vlei. Desert-adapted wildlife such as ostrich, springbok and gemsbok but also larger carnivores, namely spotted and brown hyena and even cheetah are present.

LITTLE KULALA, NAMIBIA
LITTLE KULALA, NAMIBIA

7. EXPLORA ATACAMA, CHILE

In harmony with the surroundings and local traditions, Explora Atacama offers the discovery of the essence of nature and a philosophy of travelling that seeks to satisfy the desire of adventure in an intact universe. The 17-hectare (42-acre) hotel grounds comprise 20 indigenous parcels, some with timeworn pathways and buildings that Explora is committed to preserve out of a profound respect for the area’s original inhabitants. The 50 rooms of Explora Atacama are designed to take full advantage of the silence, privacy, and spaciousness of the surrounding landscape, ensuring deep rest after a long day of exploration.

  • Hotel websiteExplora Atacama
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso  (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast breakfast, $100 USD resort credit, early check-in, and late check-out).
EXPLORA ATACAMA, CHILE
EXPLORA ATACAMA, CHILE

6. QASR AL SARAB DESERT RESORT BY ANANTARA, UAE

Located in the legendary Rub’Al Khali, the largest uninterrupted sand desert in the world, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara embraces the epic adventures of this evocative landscape by providing a luxury oasis for discerning travellers. Here, you can recline by the plunge pool outside your own villa, or stretch out on a sumptuous day bed surrounded by rich Middle Eastern fabrics and artefacts. Every room, villa and suite features spectacular desert views, blending the rich interiors with the landscape.

QASR AL SARAB BY ANANTARA, ABU DHABI, UAE
QASR AL SARAB BY ANANTARA, ABU DHABI, UAE


6. BANYAN TREE AL WADI, UAE

An oasis of peace awaits you at Banyan Tree Al Wadi hotel, a desert resort comprising an Asian-inspired spa, a dedicated nature reserve (where you interact with Arabian gazelles, camels and oryxes), an 18-hole championship golf course and access to a private beach. A jewel amidst the endless sandscape, the resort is set against the waters of the Arabian Gulf and magnificent Al Hajjar Mountains, offering you the surreal aura of desert romance. Here, tented roofs in the style of traditional Bedouin nomadic dwelling, modern villa furnishings in classic Arab style and the thrill of your very own private pool in the middle of the desert make your journey a veritable grand adventure.

BANYAN TREE AL WADI, UAE
BANYAN TREE AL WADI, UAE

4. TIERRA ATACAMA, CHILE

Tierra Atacama is a boutique hotel on the edge of San Pedro de Atacama. The hotel’s architecture, interior design and gardens were designed by some of Chile’s leading creative talent, using furniture and accessories handmade with local materials. The ambiance is casual and friendly, and guests feel as comfortable as if they were in their own homes. The hotel has many private corners, so you can seat by one of the terrace fire pits, lounge next to the pool or relax on one of the shady outdoor decks. When night falls, you can take in the brilliant stars, bask in the peace and wonder that is the Atacama Desert.

TIERRA ATACAMA HOTEL & SPA, CHILE
TIERRA ATACAMA HOTEL & SPA, CHILE

3. &BEYOND SOSSUSVLEI DESERT LODGE, NAMIBIA

Nestled deep in the heart of Namibia’s ancient Namib Desert, the lodge is a secluded and serene oasis that overlooks awe-inspiring dunes and stony outcrops. A world of vast spaces, endless horizons and rugged mountain heights, the utter tranquillity and extraordinary clarity of light make this area one of Africa’s most compelling landscapes. In this spectacularly beautiful location, spacious suites envelope guests in pure indulgence, complete with an outdoor shower and a dramatic skylight over the bed for late night star-gazing. If you’re up for something more active, quad biking adventures, hikes and walks will let you explore the surrounding scenery and satisfy your sense of adventure.

&BEYOND SOSSUSVLEI DESERT LODGE, NAMIBIA
&BEYOND SOSSUSVLEI DESERT LODGE, NAMIBIA

2. AL MAHA DESERT RESORT, UAE

Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, is nestled in a verdant palm oasis, deep within Dubai’s magical dune and desert landscape. Al Maha showcases the heritage and architecture of the Bedouins and also offers a sense of desert adventure. The suites, reminiscent of Bedouin tents, are faced far apart, blend gently into the desert and offer unsurpassed luxury. Beautifully furnished with a unique collection of authentic Arabian artifacts and antiquities, all suites boast private pools and offer spectacular views of the Dubai Desert Reserve and its wildlife (gazelles & Arabian oryx).

AL MAHA, DUBAI, UAE
AL MAHA, DUBAI, UAE

1. AMANGIRI, UTAH, USA

Amangiri (peaceful mountain) is located on 600 acres in Canyon Point, Southern Utah, close to the border with Arizona. The resort is tucked into a protected valley with sweeping views towards the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument. Built around a central swimming pool with spectacular views, the resort blends into its dramatic surrounds where deep canyons and towering plateaus create a raw landscape of immense power. Amangiri’s trail system and unrivalled backcountry access allow guests to explore the region’s striking desert scenery on foot. Amangiri is operated by Aman resorts, the world’s most exclusive ultra-luxury hotel brand.

AMANGIRI, UTAH, USA
AMANGIRI, UTAH, USA

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