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Best Desert Getaways

by Rowena Carr-Allinson

Mix action, adventure and luxury! From camel treks to desert sunsets, belly dancing and sleek malls, there’s something for everyone sampling the dry sandy dunes, be it an Arabian nights fantasy, active dune surfing, 4x4 driving or cowboy style riding.

Arizona Dreaming: Cowboy style in the Sonora Desert, Arizona

Live out the cowboy dream at the ultra hip yet mellow, Rancho de La Osa.

Set in a hacienda dating back to 1885, the ranch just a mile away from the border with Mexico is all electric pinks, yellows, and blues with a distinct modern Mexican vibe. The cool cantina, with its giant sombreros and decorative piñatas is the place to settle into one of the Western-style saddle bar stools and order a fresh Corona, like John Wayne must have done when he stayed many moons ago: pure bliss, after a riding in the dusty heat through Geronimo’s old stomping ground. Don’t miss the spa for lazy days, the pool, and evening meals served al fresco. Before bed, take a little time for star-gazing, it would be a crime not to.

Dubai City: Glamour and Luxury in the city of Gold

A thriving metropolis risen from the sand, Dubai has become renowned for its excess and luxury. Cosmopolitan and ultra modern, the city is dotted with opulent skyscrapers alongside ancient Souks and mega malls spread over 1.2 million square feet! And the city is about to inaugurate the world’s tallest building at over 800m tall.

Other must sees include the landmark, sail-shaped Burj Al Arab on its man-made island, Ski Dubai with its snow play area under wraps, and the glorious Royal Mirage’s Residence & Spa. A magical setting, the beachside oasis is designed in exotic Arabian style. Book the rooftop suite where Star Jones spent her honeymoon, for great views and a private terrace!

Palm Springs Desert Resort

Just a couple of hours drive from Hollywood, the Palm Springs Desert Resort is a decadent oasis oozing 50’s heyday nostalgia. It’s been a bolthole for legendary icons, from the Bratpack to the Kennedys, Elvis and Brad Pitt. Aside from the sunshine, designer shopping outlets and golf courses, the hot springs are a must. Try the Two Bunch Palms spa, once Capones hideout, and now the place to make the most of the desert’s natural hot springs.

Oman. The Sultan’s jewel: rugged unspoilt

Oman, wedged between Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the Indian Ocean is pristine and mystical. Almost entirely arid desert and mountains, the rugged golden rock formations tumble into the turquoise ocean below. It’s so unspoilt the marine life is unique, and draws the world’s diving fans like Prince Charles. Picturesque Muscat, the heart of the country, founded some 900 years ago is smouldering with traditional charm. Stay at the Chedi, a contemporary minimalist and incredibly chic resort with rounded domes and white-washed walls, oozing Arabian charm.

Big Bend: Luxury Cowboy country

Along the Rio Grande, a Western style trading post turned five star hotel sits surrounded by desert and national parks. Now a 200,000 acre playground complete with an international golf course, huge spa and gourmet restaurant, it’s a bolthole for Dallas millionaires in search of peace and quiet.

Don’t miss cocktails at the Thirsty Goat Saloon, rattlesnake cakes at the Ocotillo restaurant or an action-shooting course with the sheriff followed by a big cowboy breakfast at the Stargazer Mesa. Nothing for miles but prickly pear cactus, deep dry canyons and the golden soil contrasting with the bright blue skies above. Strange as it sounds, riding single file out into the badlands, spotting coyote tracks and taking in the awesome landscape is really very romantic! After a hard day’s riding and roping, a trip to the spa is in order for a Desert Aroma massage with Agave oil and a touch of TLC!

5 More Luxury Desert Hotels

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