Awasi, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
The stark Atacama Desert is home to a new intimate hideaway perfect for the adventure-minded.
Location The endlessly varied Atacama desert, with its steaming geysers, salt lagoons, wind-sculpted valleys, volcanoes, and oases, rivals Patagonia as a wilderness destination.
Pedigree First-time hoteliers, Chilean architect Francisco Rencoret and his wife, interior decorator Paula Domínguez, have built their dream getaway in one of their favorite places. More Awasis are in the works.
Style + Design The eight roomy bungalows are made of adobe and stone, topped with thatch, and tucked among winding paths. Inside, hardwood and marble floors and custom-made lamps and chaise longues are set off by Bolivian wool wall hangings and rugs.
Service + Amenities An open-air restaurant serving sophisticated Andean fare (quinoa tabbouleh, empanadas, and chupe de mariscos, or seafood stew) is a highlight, as are thoughtful extras like lip balm, complimentary cleaning of hiking boots and sandals, and a welcome pot of chachacoma tea—a local remedy to ease altitude adjustment. Guides (and 4 x 4’s) are on hand to take guests on excursions such as a llama caravan to the Tulor archaeological site or a picturesque hike crisscrossing the Vilamar River.
Value for Money The all-inclusive packages are a good price, but the best bargain is the flat-rate $350 a night, which doesn’t include excursions.
56-2/233-9641; www.awasi.cl; doubles from $900, based on two nights, all-inclusive.
Islas Secas, Panama
At this upscale eco-lodge 12 miles off Panama’s Pacific Coast, 14 guests can indulge in the ultimate castaway experience.
Location The easiest way to get to Islas Secas is aboard a private plane—it’s a 1½-hour flight from Panama City to Isla Cavada, the main island; 15 uninhabited islands can be explored by kayak on day trips organized by the resort. Nearby Coiba National Park is a World Heritage site recognized by unesco for its remarkable biodiversity.
Pedigree Michael Klein, a hedge-fund manager from Santa Barbara, bought the islands as a retreat for friends and family before deciding to share them with paying guests.
Style + Design Seven prefab yurts—chosen to minimize impact on the environment—are powered by solar panels. All have outdoor sitting areas overlooking the ocean; the thick jungle canopy and lush vegetation create a feeling of seclusion, even from neighboring guests.
Services + Amenities Islas Secas’ primary appeal is to amateur naturalists interested in exploring the bathwater-warm ocean (home to humpback whales, white-tip sharks, and rays). The Terazza restaurant will prepare decadent picnic baskets for pampered island excursions.
Value for Money At nearly $1,000 per night for a casita, this eco-option isn’t for the budget-minded.
805/729-2737; www.islassecas.com; doubles from $990, all-inclusive.
Tintswalo at Waterfall, South Africa
An ideal pre- or post-safari destination on the outskirts of Johannesburg.
Location The lodge’s address in the 500-acre Waterfall Country & Equestrian Estate, just 20 miles southeast of Rand Airport, means that travel time to the region’s game reserves is less than two hours.
Pedigree Founded by South Africans Warwick and Lisa Goosen, who opened their original Tintswalo Safari Lodge on a lush private concession in Manyeleti Reserve, which shares an open border with famed Kruger National Park.
Style + Design The heavy stone walls and bolted timber beams of the main lodge recall classic equestrian estates. In each suite, teak floors, pillow-strewn king-size beds, and soft leather couches are livened up with animal prints (lest you forget that you’re en route to your safari).
Services + Amenities Jet-lagged travelers can breathe fresh air and recharge on private walking trails, or in the outdoor lap pool. On your way back from the bush, ease tired muscles with a special hydrotherapy bath treatment at the intimate Elemis spa.
Value for Money On the pricier end of Jo’burg hotels, but you’re paying for great service and convenient access to safari country.
Maxwell Dr., Kyalami, Midrand; 27-11/234-2456; www.tintswalo.com; doubles from $385.