By Elizabeth Valerio
It’s too cold to stay in New York but if Aruba and St. Barts are too clichéd you can find a new hot spot in the desert.
In the Sahara Desert in Morocco, just outside the ancient city of Marrakech, lies Amanjena (amanjena.com), where guests can relax in the two-story Al-Hamra Maison with two bedrooms, private gardens and swimming pool and butler service for $3,000 a night. The resort tries to live up to its translation meaning “peaceful paradise” with an extensive spa menu and library and tennis courts that ensure guests are never bored.
At the Hotel de Lariche in San Pedro, Chile (explora.com/atacama), tourists can explore the secrets of the Atacama Desert via a personal guided tour and at the end of the trek, settle into their suite’s Jacuzzi or comfortable sitting area. Rooms are available for up to $800 per night and include access to the hotel’s programs which range from horseback riding to hiking excursions. During America’s frigid months, the temperatures in San Pedro remain at 75 degrees.
Wannabe Lawrence of Arabias may want to visit the Jumeriah Bab al Shams Desert Resort and Spa in Dubai (jumeirahbabalshams.com). With seven restaurants, outdoor spa treatments, guided desert tours, and live entertainment, minimal effort is necessary to make the most of your vacation. Deluxe rooms feature a balcony or terrace and king-sized four-post beds in both bedrooms with a walk-in dressing area and sitting room where complimentary breakfast is served daily. Rooms are available for about $3,600 a night.
Overlooking the Thar Desert city of Jodhpur, India and surrounded by 26 acres of flourishing gardens, a contender for the largest residence in the world has become an exquisite resort. Umaid Bhawan Palace (rajhotels.com) houses décor and design influences from Europe to Asia and regal suites that were once actually used for visiting royalty and dignitaries. The palace offers hundreds of services including spa treatments, shopping, entertainment, a health club and even an on-staff fortune teller for a distinctive cultural treat. Rooms range from $200-$400 a night.
If the resort scene isn’t your style, there are still “down-to-earth” options for tourists that maintain an upscale demeanor. Take Jack’s Camp (unchartedafrica.com) in Botswana. The Kalahari Desert site is comprised of 10 spacious canvas tents with furnished roofed verandas and indoor and outdoor showers. Each has en-suite bathrooms and wall-to-wall Persian rugs. Far from pitching a tent, the Jack’s Camp experience includes unlimited hiking and safaris, multi-course meals, and goes for $750 a couple, per night.
For travelers without passports, a desert vacation can be had on American sand. In Phoenix, Arizona, the Sonoran Desert boasts one of the world’s finest hotel chains, The Four Seasons (fourseasons.com/scottsdale). The Pinnacle Three-bedroom suite offers the ultimate luxury experience with a balcony overlooking the vast Sonoran, four fireplaces, a dining room, an outdoor plunge pool, and a mounted plasma TV for $5,000 a night. Guests can venture out into the sizzling desert on a Jeep tour or hot-air balloon ride to take in the landscape and can enjoy the hotel spa for top-notch relaxation.