Ten stellar resorts perfect for stargazing
It is only human to look up and wonder — even the earliest civilisations contemplated the twinkling night sky. While we may not take the time to marvel at the universe as often as we’d like, there are some destinations that truly beckon us to look up. From the deserts of Australia to the otherworldly expanses of Botswana, these remote locales are perfectly positioned for taking in stellar views. Read on to tour the 10 best resorts for stargazing.
Explora Atacama, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
The 50-room Explora Atacama draws explorers for its close proximity to the Chilean high desert’s spewing geysers, Mars-like red landscapes, and super-clear skies. Explora guests can visit Very Large Telescope — the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory — for guided tours; closer to home, they have free access to the resort’s 1 6-inch Meade telescope, which Explora installed in 2008 in its own observation dome. Resident guides have a knack for sharing engaging star stories while guests take turns gazing up at galaxies thousands of light years away. (explora.com)
Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, California
Clinging to impossibly high oceanfront cliffs, the 39-room Post Ranch Inn hosts regular stargazing sessions between courses at its fine-dining restaurant Sierra Mar. Amateur astronomers focus the resort’s computerised 12-inch Mead telescope — one of the largest in the US — for guests to catch close-up glimpses of stars, nebulas, and the rings of Saturn. There are also plenty of constellations to see with the naked eye while soaking in one of the inn’s infinity-edge pools. (postranchinn.com)
The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, Sonoran Desert, Arizona
The sprawling 253-room Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain sits on 800 acres of high Sonoran Desert, ensuring low ambient light for miles and miles and plenty of stargazing opportunities. On Saturday nights, the resort hosts complimentary stargazing sessions with an astronomer. Guests who discover a planet or constellation of interest can even photograph them through the telescope using an attachment for smartphones. (ritzcarlton.com)
Amangiri, Canyon Point, Utah
The air is clear and dry in southern Utah, making the luxurious Amangiri a stargazer’s paradise. Only 34 rooms, a restaurant, a spa, and some outbuildings populate the 600-acre resort, ensuring plenty of room to stretch out — and almost no light pollution. Book a $US300 ($A397) private session with a local astronomy enthusiast who uses his laser pointer and high-tech telescope to navigate the stars; for a simpler night among the stars, stretch out next to the fire pit on your private terrace with your eyes on the sky. (aman.com)
Longitude 131°, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia
There is no better way to watch the stars then from the comfort of your bed. At Longitude 131°, a tented luxury resort located in the heart of Australia’s vast Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park, you can spend the night beneath shooting stars and sparkling constellations while dozing in a swag, a king-size bed located on each of the 15 room’s private terraces. The desert night sky is also the main event at Table 131°, Longitude’s al fresco dining experience accompanied by a visual tour of the Southern Hemisphere skies. (longitude131.com.au)
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, Australia
A 2.5-hour drive from Sydney, the remote carbon-neutral Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley sits on an untouched corner of the Greater Blue Mountains region. A 7000-acre conservancy surrounds 36 villas, completely protecting the area from light interference.
During a private 90-minute stargazing and campfire excursion at the property’s historic homestead, a guide serves traditional Australian damper with billy tea and turns on the telescope. Owl calls and fortified wines only add to the starry-night drama. (oneandonlyresorts.com)
Las Ventanas al Paraíso, A Rosewood Resort, San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico
At Mexico’s Las Ventanas al Paraíso, every suite seems to point skyward. Each luxurious beach accommodation comes with a telescope for stargazing; guests can also call on the services of a resident astronomer for more in-depth exploration. Book the Oceanview Rooftop Terrace Junior Suite to spend the evening taking in the stars from the rooftop hot tub, followed by a good night’s rest on an outdoor star bed. Better still, for $US35,000 ($A46,300) per night, take over Las Ventanas’ new La Mansión del Señor Warñer and float around the wraparound infinity-edge pool while watching for shooting stars. (rosewoodhotels.com)
The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage, Palm Springs, California
The 244-room Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage goes big on Saturday nights with free stargazing sessions for guests. Amidst astronomy jokes, themed music, and plenty of Milky Ways, Mars Bars, and marshmallow Moon Pies, an 11-inch computerised telescope is hard at work focusing on Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars.
During the winter months, you can see the Orion Nebula, and in both winter and spring, you’ll catch glimpses of the Sirius star and Andromeda Galaxy. Zero in on individual moon craters year-round. (ritzcarlton.com)
Singita Lebombo, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Each of Singita Lebombo’s 15 loft-style suites have open-air beds on their balconies so you can spend the night under a canopy of stars. With wild game and sounds of the bush all around, guests can casually stargaze or request a ranger to teach them how to use one of the camp’s Dopsonian Reflector telescope. Without much instruction, you can learn to locate the moons of Jupiter, nebulas, constellations, and more. (singita.com)
San Camp, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana
Botswana’s six-room San Camp is a single blip in the 4630-square-mile Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. See the planets and constellations without a single interruption when you book the lodge’s five-night Kubu Island Quad Bike Expedition itinerary, which takes guests to Kubu Island, a 2.5 billion-year-old granite outcrop in the middle of the ancient lakebed. There, in the pitch black, you’ll clearly make out planets, satellites, and constellations. In the daylight, the ancient lakeshore surrounding the island have a fittingly lunar appearance. (unchartedafrica.com)