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Visiting the desert offers the chance to explore an almost other-worldly oasis that can make you feel as if you’ve truly escaped the chaos of the modern world. Combined with a stay at a luxurious resort, it can become the ultimate way to get away from it all, indulging in some of the best life has to offer.
Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, Paradise Valley, Arizona (prices & photos)
This luxury mountainside resort just outside of Scottsdale in Paradise Valley, is a true desert sanctuary for those seeking rest and relaxation. Rated the No. 1 resort in the U.S. by Conde Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards, it offers privacy in mountain and spa casitas with stunning, panoramic views over the Valley of the Sun. Indulge in the Sanctuary Spa with 12 indoor/outdoor treatment rooms with a varied menu of Asian-inspired service, including amazing aquatic treatments in the heated Watsu pool; stroll through the tranquil meditation garden, or enjoy a refreshing dip in the infinity pool.
Amangiri, Utah (prices & photos)
If you want to go on an exotic vacation but you just don’t have time to fly to the other side of the globe at the moment, Amangiri will make you feel as if you’ve traveled to some unique, far off place without traveling hours, or days, to get there. Located in the desert of southern Utah, this 34-suite luxury resort set in Canyon Country is quite popular with the rich and famous and effortlessly blends into the spectacular setting. Watch the sun rise over 400-year-old limestone formations just before setting out on a desert hike with your own personal guide, followed by horseback riding through fiery red-rock canyons, spa treatments and fantastic organic meals. Eventually you’ll return to your chic modern suite with a private plunge pool and terrace that opens up to a mesmerizing dark night’s sky filled with billions of intensely glowing stars.
Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara, Abu Dhabi (prices & photos)
Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara is 155 miles south of Abu Dhabi on Sir Bani Yas Island, once the private estate of the United Arab Emirate’s founder Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The property features a five-star luxury hotel, a wildlife conservation area, riding stables and more. Guests can take wildlife tours to see gazelles, oryx and giraffes, in addition to taking part in numerous outdoor activities like kayaking through mangroves and scuba diving in the Arabian Gulf. After a long day at play, re-energize with invigorating scrubs and wraps, or enjoy a deeply relaxing massage in the Anantara Spa overlooking the gulf’s crystal clear waters.
Onguma The Fort, Namibia (prices & photos)
If you’re seeking a desert experience with lots of exotic wildlife, it doesn’t get any better than Onguma The Fort in Namibia, set across 84,000 private acres of wilderness that’s home to over 30 different animal species including lions, leopards, elephants, giraffe, cheetah, oryx and more. Spend your days and nights watching local wildlife – or, sometimes discover them watching you, as well as enjoying fantastic gourmet meals. The African, Moroccan and Indian-inspired compound is made up of 12 private, free-standing suites, with each featuring both indoor and outdoor showers and plenty of luxurious amenities. In addition, The Fort’s main tower includes the Sultan Suite, which features a large bedroom and bath as well as a lounge area and private viewing deck.
Longitude 131, Australia’s Outback (prices & photos)
Longitude 131, set in the red, wild interior of the Australian Outback facing Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, offers unfettered luxury among a spiritual land that has been prized by the Aborigines since ancient times as one of the most extraordinary, special places on the planet. During the day, explore this fascinating terrain with personal guides and return for a refreshing dip in the pool that provides an oasis among the sand dunes. Dine on fantastic three-course meals and fine Australian wine under a blanket of stars, then lay your head down at night in a palatial tent, complete with air conditioning and a minibar.
The Phoenician, Scottsdale, Arizona (prices & photos)
Hollywood celebs have long sought seclusion at this luxury resort that fuses 19th century Europe with Southwestern flair in the Sonoran desert of Arizona. The 27-hole golf course offers a lush, green oasis across red sands at the base of Camelback Mountain, while the exclusive, secluded Canyon Suites provide an unsurpassed experience with stunning desert views. Guests enjoy everything from a private infinity pool to chauffeured resort transportation along with the resorts three golf courses, nine pools, 11 tennis courts and 10 dining options.
Amanjena, Marrakech, Morocco (prices & photos)
This luxury hotel sits at the edge of Marrakech, sometimes referred to as the “Daughter of the Desert,” overlooking the snow-capped High Atlas Mountains and set within an oasis of palms and olive trees. Enjoy golfing at the 27-hole Marrakech Royal Golf Club, or embarking on a number of guided excursions to the medina, palaces and gardens of ancient Marrakech. Of course, you can also refresh and re-energize by taking a dip in the stunning heated outdoor pool or indulge in spa treatments ranging from reflexology and facials to scrubs and an extensive menu of massages.
Desert Nights Camp, Wahiba Sands, Oman (prices & photos)
Desert Nights Camp in Oman is a luxury desert camp sprawled across 10-acres of sand against a backdrop of spectacular craggy mountains and endless dunes about a two-hour drive from Muscat, the capital of Oman. Enjoy riding dune bikes in the golden red sands and even a sunset camel ride followed by feasting on traditional Omani fare around the glow of the campfire while Bedu locals play traditional music. Rooms are fully air conditioned and feature sumptuous beds set under a linen canopy suffused with golden light.
Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa, Moab, Utah (prices & photos)
Set along the banks of the Colorado River among the majestic red rocks and dramatic mesas of Moab, the Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa is a premier, world-class luxury destination. Ideal for those looking for a little adventure along with relaxation, guests can take part in white water rafting, jeep tours, sunset photo tours of Arches National Park, as well as yoga classes and revitalizing spa treatments – or soak in the sunshine by the riverside swimming pool. After dark, you can count shooting stars while listening to the soothing sounds of the Colorado River as it flows past your private deck.
Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, Abu Dhabi (prices & photos)
If you’ve dreamed of bringing out your inner desert prince or princess, this resort in the legendary Liwa Desert of Abu Dhabi may fit the bill. Offering unparalleled luxury and comfort, here you can recline by the plunge pool right outside your own private villa and ride a camel over endless dunes that stretch as far as the eye can see. Indulge in traditional Arabic rituals and exotic therapies from Thailand; soothe aching muscles and cleanse the mind with a traditional Moroccan hammam experience as well as a wide range of massages meant to relax and revitalize.
Explora Atacama, Chile (prices & photos)
Explora Atacama is just a stone’s throw of volcanoes and the breathtaking Andes, yet situated in northern Chile’s Atacama Desert, the driest on earth. Here you’ll find luxurious rooms designed to take advantage of the tranquility, silence and spaciousness of the surrounding landscape, ensuring rest and relaxation after a long day exploring this incredible region. Guests choose from one of the resort’s more than 20 horses, specifically trained to handle the local terrain. After dark, sip South American wine while gazing at some of the clearest night skies in the world in the property’s own observatory.
Enchantment Resort, Sedona, Arizona (prices & photos)
Surrounded by pine trees in Arizona’s famed Red Rock Country, this former private ranch provides an unparalleled experience in adobe casitas with beehive fireplaces and southwestern furnishings that blend with the surrounding landscape. Decks open to amazing vistas of Boynton Canyon, while each room also features state-of-the-art technologies and decorative fixtures derived from local jewelers and artists. Guests can also enjoy the Mii Amo Spa, a full-service luxury spa featuring an indoor pool with fireplace, an outdoor lap pool, fitness classes, cooking demos, art lessons and a wide range of treatments including massage and Reiki, a Japanese healing technique that attunes energy flow within the body to allow for natural healing processes to occur.
El Monte Sagrado, Taos, New Mexico (prices & photos)
El Monte Sagrado is a pueblo-style resort surrounded by desert and mountain terrain. It’s so incredibly beautiful that some have likened it to an art museum. Each spacious room offers an especially tranquil atmosphere, with Native American influences through hand-painted walls and local art. At the Anaconda Bar, sip your favorite refreshing drink and watch fish swim in the saltwater aquarium, or stroll the lush, indoor gardens with water features that calm and soothe the mind. The award-winning Living Spa features services like aromatherapy massage, a variety of facials, and even the Ayurvedic tradition of Shirodhara, which helps bring forth a sense of balance and peace.
Anatolian Houses, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey (prices & photos)
This luxurious and unique desert resort built within the cave formations that are part of Cappadocia, Turkey’s historical structurem features suites with furniture that was hand-selected among pieces from different eras through history to provide the look of Anatolia with the harmony of past and present. The amazing cave architecture makes this establishment a true stand out, while the Turkish Hammam offers classic amenities like hot and cool rooms as well as services such as a heavenly soap bubble massage.
Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai, UAE (prices & photos)
Bab Al Shams, which literally means “gateway to the sun,” is an elegant resort and spa that emerges from the heart of the desert in a traditional Arabic fort setting in and around an oasis. A Royal Suite offers uninterrupted desert views along with luxurious amenities. Enjoy horseback riding across the sands underneath the moonlight or trek through the desert by camel, crossing over sandy dunes before unwinding in one of the cooling infinity pools. The spa offers a chance to indulge in revitalizing treatments like full-body exfoliation, comfort wraps and massages, all meant to ease the stress and strain of a demanding lifestyle.
Kasbah du Toubkal, Imlil, Morocco (prices & photos)
This luxury resort, which can only be reached on foot or by mule, sits above the village of Imlil with views of the highest mountain in North America, Mount Toubkal. Not surprisingly, this dream-like refuge infused with peace and serenity was featured by famed film director Martin Scorsese in his movie based on the Dalai Lama, “Kundun.” Enjoy day treks to Toubkal National Park as well as camel rides through the Sahara. Splurge on the apartment suite and you can take in breathtaking views of waterfalls and the High Atlas Mountains through a 40-foot glass wall opening.
Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, Tucson, Arizona (prices & photos)
This amazing 850-acre resort just northwest of Tucson features more than 20 miles of hiking and biking trails in a design that utilizes colors, woods, stones, flora, gems and minerals of the Sonoran Desert. Rooms offer magnificent views of the Tortolita Foothills and Wild Burro Canyon, while Casita suites are isolated private homes that provide the ultimate in peace and tranquility. Listen to the ancient melodies of a flutist, who welcomes each evening’s sunset across the spectacular desert landscape and take in the star-filled sky while cozying up to the warmth of a terrace firepit. Of course you can also indulge in numerous amenities meant to refresh, revive and renew through healing therapies, luxurious treatments and ancient therapeutic rituals.