The sun rises over 400-year-old limestone formations as you set out on a desert hike with your personal guide. Then you’re off to ride horses through red-rock canyons, or fly away for some heli-skiing. You return to your hotel for a spa treatment based on Thai and Indian traditions, then sit down to an organic meal before returning to your chic, modern suite with a private plunge pool and terrace open to the stars.
It’s just another day at the Amangiri, a 34-suite luxury resort set in southern Utah’s Canyon Country—one of several newer hotels in rugged locations. And these remote spots take full advantage of their location, offering a menu of adventures along with their luxurious digs.
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Why unique properties in such remote destinations? They cater to a new type of globe-trotter, says Paul Largay, a T+L A-List agent and adventure-travel expert: the exotic-pursuant. These thrill-seekers want to experience nature, but not at the expense of creature comforts. “After rolling around in the dirt or chasing a snow leopard,” he says, “these travelers want a fine Cabernet.”
The trend may also be an unexpected result of advances in technology, says Rachel Dodds of Sustaining Tourism, a consulting agency that specializes in sustainable tourism. Now that travelers are armed with more information about their next destination, they may be willing to journey farther afield and push their limits in new and different ways.
And to cater to these intrepid outdoorsmen, luxury hotels have opened from the Maldives to Mexico, from Switzerland to South Africa—each with a different level of adventure. At Anantara’s Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, for example, a fortress outside of Abu Dhabi, guests ride 4 x 4s or sit atop camels en route to a watering hole for glimpses of Arabian oryx and mountain gazelle.
And at Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort and Spa on Addu Atoll in the Maldives, lucky jet-setters unpack in treehouse villas—all furnished with open-air showers and infinity pools—or relax in the 17,000-square-foot over-water bungalows set in the resort’s lagoon.
Of course, the adventure trend isn’t restricted to hotels; tour operators and cruise ships, too, are offering more soft adventures, like ziplining, kayaking, and nature walks—all things, says Dodds, that enhance the traveler’s experience.
In the words of the Adventure Travel Tourism Association, “adventure is becoming more luxurious and luxury more adventurous.” At these properties, you’ll get the best of both worlds. —Sarah Kantrowitz