Thursday, December 20, 2012

Amazing Outdoor Hotel Suites for the Holidays


Amangiri Resort

Lake Powell, Canyon Point, Utah


A full moon showcases the mesas against the sky. At night the occasional coyote yips, and at dawn bighorn sheep may troop by. Welcome to Amangiri, the extravagant 600-acre resort near the Navajo Nation in Utah as it cuts in near Page, Arizona. This is one of the best places in the United States for star-gazing: The air is clear and dry, and there's very little ambient light. If you'd like less exposure but a more focused relationship with the starry pitch above, six Amangiri suites have "Sky Terraces"—three protecting walls with the open sky above and a pool below you. With summer nights in the 60s and January nights in the mid-30s or lower, there's appropriate bedding—from silk and wool throws to plumped down quilts. Cocoa with a shot of brandy? Coffee at 5:30 a.m.? This is Amangiri (435-675-3999; suites, $1,500–$3,500).

Las Ventanas al Paraíso
Los Cabos, Mexico

From the terrace of your penthouse high above Las Ventanas al Paraíso, at the tip of Mexico's Baja Peninsula, you have a 180-degree view of the Sea of Cortés, about 150 feet away. The bed is king-size, the breezes and waves are gentle, and the sounds are ambient—birds at sunset and sunrise. The mountains 40 miles inland are lit and shadowed by the moon. Far-off houses warm the night with the reassuring calm of distant civilization. At around 10 p.m., you might see fireworks in the distance; celebrations are easy to come by down here. But the later it gets, the more silent the night becomes. As the penumbra subsumes the whites and blues and greens, the fragrance distilled by the heat of the day rises—the smells of sand and earth, the ozone released by breaking waves, the scent of jasmine. Here's your essential equipment: All suites have telescopes and guides to the constellations (52-624-144-2800; penthouse suites, $1,600–$3,780).


L'Albereta
Erbusco, Lombardy, Italy

Industrialist Vittorio Moretti has a theory about houses, that each should have a pensatoio at the top—a place surrounded by windows where a person can pause, contemplate nature, and refresh. So L'Albereta, his family's Relais & Châteaux hotel in the hills of Franciacorta, between Brescia and Bergamo, has the Cabriolet Suite. Atop a tower facing Lake Iseo, you are in the clutches of Northern Italian luxury—sitting on satin, grosgrain, damask; surrounded by vineyards; fed by the great Milanese chef Gualtiero Marchesi. Feeling romantic? Press a button and the roof above the bed opens to the heavens. During the annual Perseid meteor shower (known here as the tears of San Lorenzo), the suite is particularly sought after: Legend has it that for every falling star, a wish will be granted. But the sky is beautiful anytime, and the nights can be full of the perfume of wild roses, jasmine, and gardenias (39-030-776-0550; Cabriolet Suite, $617)

Adrère Amellal Desert Ecolodge
Siwa Oasis, Egypt

Adrère Amellal, built of mud and salt crystals, sits at the foot of a flat-topped white mountain considered holy by the local people. The lodge uses no power except for the generator that runs the kitchen. Outdoor beds are set up on the roof or out in the desert, south of the Siwa Oasis. In an immense "ballroom" (a bowl between tall dunes), dinner is served at magnificent tables set with crystal and argenterie. Later, Siwan staff in turbans and tunics escort you into the desert. They don't use flashlights; you walk up a dune in the pitch black. On the other side are real beds made of palm reeds, with proper quilts and pillows and Egyptian cotton sheets. But if you fall asleep, you'll miss the magic of absolute silence (20-2-2736-7879; Desert Rooms, $800; open Sept.–July).

Ol Donyo Wuas
Kenya

At Ol Donyo Wuas, there's a permanent bower on the roof deck above every suite that can be done up with fresh soft cotton linens, blankets, and hot water bottles. By moonlight, the savanna below is visible, as is Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance. The lodge, which sits on a ridge 50 feet above the plains, is surrounded by three water holes, and at night you can hear elephants sloshing around. When the moon is new, the sky is black and the heavens are so close that satellites and shooting stars seem to careen overhead like fireflies (254-20-600-0457; doubles, $1,220–$1,620).







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