Seeing the world’s most visually stunning and isolated spots no longer means surrendering comfort. Today’s luxury hotels provide an elite way to explore a secluded Australian island, the United States' largest national park, the wide-ranging dune fields of the Namib Desert, the historic Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, the coast of British Columbia, the wilderness of the Arctic Circle and more. Here are some of Luxury Travel Advisor's top picks.
Southern Ocean Lodge
Photo by Southern Ocean Lodge
Off the coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia, sits the secluded Kangaroo Island, home to around 4,400 people. On the island’s southwest coast is the 21-suite Southern Ocean Lodge. The property’s location allows for quick access to Flinders Chase National Park, Kelly Hill National Park and a host of natural landmarks such as Admirals Arch, the Remarkable Rocks and Seal Bay.
The lodge offers several adventure activities, including a quad-bike safari that takes visitors into Hanson Bay Sanctuary’s bushland for a change to see wild kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, echidnas, goannas and more. Guests looking to hike can walk along the limestone cliffs to Cape Younghusband for a view of the Remarkable Rocks, roam through Kelly Hill Conservation Park and its freshwater lagoons or take a scenic hike around Flinders Chase National Park in search of wild platypuses. Also available are a kayak trip on the close by South West River, a beach fishing trip and a nighttime tour in search of local nocturnal wildlife.
Ultima Thule Lodge
Photo by Arturo Polo-Ena for Ultima Thule Lodge
Ultima Thule Lodge, nestled within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska, provides a luxury adventure at one of the United States’ hardest-to-access national parks. The lodge creates a unique itinerary for every group, tailoring it to their interests and desires. The property’s standard package consists of four nights at the lodge with more than three full days set aside for exploration and adventure.
Thanks to the lodge’s private planes, guests will be able to visit many of the remote mountain valleys and glaciers around the park otherwise inaccessible to visitors. While in the park, visitors can hike on or through alpine tundra, glacier ice and boreal rainforests, go salmon and trout fishing, view wildlife, raft along the rivers, sled down glaciers and more.
Sossusvlei Desert Lodge
Photo provided by andBeyond
Set in the largest dune field south of the Sahara, andBeyond’s Sossusvlei Desert Lodge in Namibia offers a unique luxury desert experience. Guests who take the lodge’s half day hike will explore the Namib Sand Sea, seeing the sun rise over the dune fields, climbing Sossusvlei’s largest sand dune, "Big Daddy," and visiting Sesriem Canyon. The property also offers a scenic drive where visitors can encounter desert animals like the gemsbok, zebra, springbok, bat-eared fox, aardwolf or jackal. Other lodge activities include guided quad-bike adventures, a hot air balloon trip and stargazing.
Located in Africa’s first International Dark Sky Reserve, Sossusvlei Desert Lodge consists of ten freestanding air-conditioned suites with a common building in the middle. While not exploring the Namibia Desert, guests can relax at the lodge swimming pool or visit the property’s observatory, staffed with a professional astronomer.
Belmond Sanctuary Lodge
Photo by Belmond Sanctuary Lodge
Cross Machu Picchu off your bucket list with a visit to Belmond Sanctuary Lodge. Located just a short walk from the front gates, this hotel helps guests beat the crowds and see the historic site before it fills up with tourists. During the busier hours, guests can choose to hike back along the Inca Trail to the Sun Gate, where many visitors first see Machu Picchu, or up Huayna Picchu, a small mountain towards the back of the site.
Belmond Sanctuary Lodge provides 31 rooms and suites, eight of which include outdoor terraces with mountain views. Amenities here include a relaxation area suited for yoga and meditation, an orchid garden and two restaurants.
Clayoquot Wilderness Resort
Photo by Clayoquot Wilderness Resort
Along the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada is Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. The Relais & Châteaux eco-resort has 25 white-canvas tents furnished with heated floors, antique furnishings, en-suite bathrooms and private outdoor showers. Though the resort provides them with three dining venues and a full spa center, guests here will have their pick of water, land and helicopter adventures.
On land, guests can go hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, rock climbing and rappelling. Visitors looking to spend time by the water can go kayaking or canoeing, spend a full day on a West Coast safari, fish in the ocean, rivers or alpine lakes or participate in marine conservation projects. The resort also offers various helicopter packages that combine an aerial tour with activities such as fly fishing, yoga, hiking, kayaking, zip lining and more.
Arctic Treehouse Hotel
Photo by Arctic Treehouse Hotel
See the Northern Lights at Arctic Treehouse Hotel. Lying within SantaPark Arctic World, the property consists of a collection of individual suites with wide north-facing windows. Though the hotel is part of a Christmas-themed amusement park, it offers much more than an opportunity to meet Santa and his elves. Through the property’s partnership with Lapland Luxury, guests can choose many ways to explore within the Arctic Circle.
Visitors can journey into the arctic with huskies or reindeer on trips that last anywhere between a quick jaunt to a multi-day experience. Nearby rivers provide the opportunity for a calm boat ride and lunch as well as canoeing or a rafting trip on some of the fastest Lappish rivers. Other adventures include a helicopter tour, a bear watching safari, cross-country skiing and hiking.