Summer is soon approaching and everyone’s rushing to plan their ultimate summer vacation. You’re definitely traveling, but you haven’t decided where. A quick scroll through your Instagram shows the Bahamas, Paris, Rome, Bali, and Iceland. Everyone else is heading to the usual: Amalfi Coast, French Riviera, Dubrovnik, Shanghai . . . You’ve been there, done that. You need a new sort of holiday that will make everyone linger a little longer on your photos. Have you ever considered a desert resort?
The desert is way less basic than the beach and provides a stunning natural landscape. Your holiday is sure to be more interesting than others. Of course, we’re talking desert-chic, as in Sex and the City 2 strutting in a sundress; not trekking through the Gobi desert as a sandstorm threatens to swallow you. So here are 10 of the best options for a desert resort holiday. You can have a decidedly un-basic summer vacation and still look good!
Encuentro Guadalupe, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja, Mexico
This incredibly chic anti-resort (as it’s called) sprawls over 100 hectares of a natural reserve. Twenty free-standing pods serve as individual room lofts that hover above the mountains. A glistening infinity pool glows like a floating oasis. The lofts are small and minimalistic with massive red boulders jutting from the floor.
The lofts are intentionally claustrophobic. Owner Alfredo Acosta believes you should explore the beauty of the natural surroundings rather than staying cooped up indoors. Your private patio is perfect for night time, when the stars come out and adorn the clear skies above.
Hotel San Cristobal, Baja, Mexico
This hotel is the definition of chic. It draws from the laid-back coolness of the nearby surf town Todos Santos, and attracts a young, hip crowd. There is a polished hippie vibe to this resort; people go barefoot but also eat fresh locally-produced ceviche and drink high-quality mezcal margaritas.
After all, coolness is at its peak when you’re not trying, right? The architecture reflects this. It channels lazy surf town with white plaster walls covered in ivy and cactuses lining the pathways. Concrete tiles and brightly-colored Mexican bedspreads add to the effect. Luxurious private patios and terraces offer spectacular views of the vast Pacific Ocean.
Casa 8 at Bruma, Ensenada, Baja, Mexico
Bed and breakfasts are always nice and cozy, but if you want a boutique version, this is for you. Casa 8 is a beautiful eight-room boutique hotel with sleek wooden interiors. Black-and-white tile work contrasts with the brown tones. It has a communal dining and kitchen area, making it feel a lot more homey and warm.
The quaint sitting area opens up to a stunning view of the property’s own vineyards. Wine is the Valle’s specialty, so enjoy all the eco-wines that the hotel provides! Enjoy a breakfast feast of fresh fruits, chilaquiles rojos, verdes, creamy scrambled eggs, beans and fresh-baked, fluffy bread. Don’t forget to take a dip in the infinity pool and admire the view of the desert!
Hope Springs Resort, Palm Springs, California
It doesn’t get more California than this. Hope Springs is a restored mid-century motel in Desert Hot Springs with a punk-rock pedigree. Its history goes back to the 1960s when it was a 10-room motel called La Bella Sari. The retro kitsch aesthetic lingers in its pink flamingoes and cactuses.
An editor of the ‘90s alternative magazine, Slash, bought the motel and began renovations. It went from gaudy Santa Fe to modern with bits of mid-century nostalgia. Actor Matthew McConaughey and cult designer Rick Owens are some of its patrons. The claim to fame of this desert resort is its three natural hot spring pools for therapeutic soaking.
Mojave Sands, Joshua Tree, California
The Joshua Tree National Park is a well-loved desert destination for hiking and beautiful natural landscape. Sitting right in the fray of it all is Mojave Sands. This chic five-room property attracts some of California’s most affluent clientele. It’s not a luxury desert resort like the ones you will find further down in Coachella Valley; it has a rustic mountain cabin-type of vibe. There’s no swimming pool or televisions, just furnishings like manual typewriters and vintage record players. But it feels intimate, cozy and refreshingly unpretentious compared to the five-star resorts that are typical of the area.
Mii Amo, Sedona, Arizona
There is a certain mysticism about Sedona; it’s well-known for being a hippie wellness retreat complete with crystals, beads and lots of yoga. Nestled in the ochre is Mii Amo. This spa retreat draws from the sacred energy that seems to exude from the red rocks. It is Goop-approved, so if wellness queen Gwyneth Paltrow likes it, we do too.
They offer all sorts of treatments like lymphatic drainage, Sedona clay wraps and psychic massages. More New Age offerings include chakra meditation, energy clearing and aura photography. If the past few months have been hard on you (this year’s Mercury retrograde has been brutal!) a visit to Mii Amo will fix your energy and refresh you for the rest of the year.
The Downtown Clifton, Tucson, Arizona
Restored vintage motels make for the most charming desert resorts. The Downtown Clifton is no exception. This single-story 10-room building is a retro motel that’s both kitschy and cool at the same time. From the striking Dia de Ios Muertos mural by local artist Danny Martin, to the loud, colorful blanket bedspreads, the heart of Tucson is in the details. Local art decorates the rooms, which come with locally-made wooden queen beds. Mexican sodas and snacks fill the mini-bar, so you’ll never go hungry in this hip little desert resort!
El Rey Court, Santa Fe, Texas
El Rey Court promises two things: Southwestern decor and Texan hospitality, right off Highway 66. Behind the ivy-covered white walls hide the pool suites of this 86-room establishment and a Spanish courtyard. The turquoise water contrasting with white sun chairs and umbrellas lend a decidedly 1960s French Riviera vibe.
Inside, the rooms are modern and sleek with whites, beige and accents of black and brown. Brightly colored turquoise doors and covered patios complete the color palette, and the rooms are adorned with special furnishings like locally-handcrafted stools and chairs. Be sure to check out La Reina, the on-site bar. Their latest cocktail is a hibiscus tea with cinnamon, star anise and mezcal.
The Colorado Plateau is one of America’s greatest treasures, with its wild, rocky formations and awe-inspiring geological zoo. Built into the ancient, wild landscape of Utah is Amangiri, which means “peaceful mountain.” It’s a slice-of-heaven, sleek sandstone hideaway nestled in the heart of Navajo country. This modernist and mesa-inspired resort is the ultimate luxury desert resort destination.
The rooms offer sunset views, pools or sky lounges, depending on your preference and budget. You really can’t get a bad view here. Don’t forget to bring along a pool float for that ultimate pool holiday experience! Don’t have one? No worries, check out The Floatys for a wide array of floats suited for all occasions.
Otherwise, you can experience the sweeping landscape on hiking and rock climbing tours booked through the hotel. After a tiring day, enjoy a well-deserved treatment using traditional Navajo healing techniques at the Aman Spa.
Boulders Spa & Resort, Scottsdale, Arizona
They weren’t kidding about the name “Boulders.” Part of the Curio Collection by hotelier giant Hilton, this luxury desert resort in Scottsdale is right in the Sonoran Desert. Humongous boulders jutting out from the premises flank the resort. It takes inspiration from its surroundings with wood-burning fireplaces and natural stone showers. The luxury comes in private patios that blend into the rock formations. There are two championship 18-hole golf courses and 1,300 acres of indigenous land prime for hiking, fishing, and biking.
As shown above, you don’t have to travel out of the country for a desert resort getaway. America is already home to some of the most spectacular ones in the world! You’re sure to have all your followers thirsty for their own desert holiday, too, after your vacation is broadcast all over your Instagram.