August 1st, 2019

andBeyond’s Sossusvlei Desert Lodge will open in October

In August, travelers will “go dark” to experience a destination’s wonders in a new light – or, more accurately, without any:

What’s New

andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge: Opening October 16, andBeyond Sossusvlei Lodge in Namibia is located in Africa’s only International Dark Sky Reserve. Guests will have the rare opportunity to observe the southern hemisphere stars from one of the darkest and most protected skies in the world. Each evening, guests are invited to join the lodge’s resident astronomer in the on-site observatory – complete with a Meade LX200R 12-inch telescope – to view the brightest constellations and planets across the inky black night sky.

The Dupont Circle: Named for its downtown DC neighborhood, the recently relaunched Dupont Circle has undergone a Washington Monumental renovation. The team is putting the finishing touches on the final projects, including the Clodagh-designed 3,000 sq. ft. Penthouse Suite, which will open mid-August. Located on the rooftop floor, the space will include a heated private terrace with a firepit and projector for al fresco movie nights. The suite will comprise two master bedrooms and a large living and dining area, including a fireplace, wet bar, dining table, and lounge area perfect for hosting social gatherings.

Nayara Tented Camp: When it opens on December 20, Nayara Tented Camp in Costa Rica will be one of the first luxury camps in Central America. Guests will be able to experience evening frog-watching tours to see the tiny red-eye tree frogs, as well as other nocturnal species like bats and howler monkeys.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi: New as of July 1, Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi is the brand’s first location in the Maldives, boasting 122 villas on the sea. The spa features a starlight ocean massage as a part of its signature treatments. Guests can drift away under the Maldivian stars in the outdoor spa pavilion, as they relax to the sound of the gently lapping waves.

Starry, Starry Night

The Belmond Royal Scotsman will take guests on a late-night, starry excursion.

James Taylor said it best, “At night the stars, they put on a show for free.” This summer, travel to one of these dark destinations to take time to stare up at the night sky, learn about constellations, and even catch a falling star.

Botswana: Each of the Belmond Safari lodges – Belmond Khwai River Lodge, Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge, and Belmond Eagle Island Lodge – allows guests the opportunity to experience the vast dome of Botswana’s uninterrupted night sky. Guests will learn how the local tribes used the stars for navigation while taking in the beauty of the local landscape.

Scotland: Great Scott! The UK is fast becoming a popular place to enjoy a clear, dark evening. Belmond Royal Scotsman, Scotland’s only luxury sleeper train, has announced bespoke excursions that take guests off the rails and into the wilds of Scotland. Among the options is stargazing in the Cairngorms of the Scottish Highlands, one of the darkest skies in Europe. Guests can explore the area with a certified astrologer who will introduce them to the constellations while they enjoy a late-night picnic.

New York City: The unlikeliest of stargazing spots may just provide the best perspective on the night. Head to The Chatwal to catch the famous Persides Meteor Shower from one of the hotel’s 14 open-air terraces. The annual summertime shower peaks the evening of August 12-13 with a predicted 50–75 meteors per hour, making it the most likely time you’ll see a shooting star in New York City. And if the city lights are just too bright, the stars around the block at Broadway’s famous theaters can fill the void.

California: Stargaze while you float at Napa Valley’s Solage Calistoga, a contemporary oasis with a spa that offers an evening open-air floating meditation called Aqua Vibrations. Guests sits in a mesh chair, partially submerged in the geothermal mineral pool (96 to 98 degrees), where they can gaze at the stars and moon.

Mexico: Bring the indoors outside in Mexico. Each of the 41 villas at Viceroy Riviera Maya comes with its own private moon shower. The luxurious space is a garden oasis surrounded by a bamboo fence and tropical plantings, with a dedicated space for keeping towels dry. Is there any better way to bathe than in nature under the stars?

The Hamptons: Anyone who has ever driven in the Hamptons knows how dark the night sky can be out east. Take in the stars at Shou Sugi Ban House, where each evening concludes with an outdoor fire circle to wind down with hot tea and live music. Retreat guests can also take part in fireside chats with occasional special guest speakers.

Going Dark

Enjoy a digital detox at Nayara Springs in Costa Rica

In today’s hyper-connected world, going off the grid has become a popular – and some say necessary – way to travel. The reasons for disconnecting are endless: it provides time to get in touch with nature, to explore new hobbies, to focus on personal well-being, and to reconnect with friends. If you’re seeking a digital detox, check out the below suggestions for going dark on your next vacation:

I’ve Got the Power: Scratch that. Reverse it. “No power” is the theme for 2019 at UXUA Casa Hotel and Spa’s new Trails for Trancoso initiative. The program, which was developed by UXUA and is 100% financed by the property, creates car-free, green corridors connecting local attractions, beaches and neighborhoods in Trancoso, Brazil. Residents and tourists alike can enjoy a safe and sustainable transportation network via foot, bike, and horseback. The results are clear: 99% of guests don’t rent cars; and 85% of staff members arrive to work by foot or bicycle. Local sourcing allows delivery of many foods and supplies by pulled carts or canoe rather than powered vehicles. The program has cultural significance: UXUA sits on the 500-year-old, automobile-free Historic Quadrado.

A Treat for a Better Sleep: Park Hyatt Tokyo’s Good Night Sleep Stretch, a complimentary 30-minute program, is designed to prepare the body for restful sleep. The teacher-led class takes place in a candlelit fitness room overlooking the city from the 47th floor. It consists of slow stretches and breathing exercises to loosen muscles and bring the body into equilibrium. Across the world in New York City, guests at The Chatwal have access to nine 12-minute yoga classes led by Eddie Stern (Gwyneth Paltrow’s yoga and spiritual guru) via in-room iPads.

Skin in the Game: Did you know that your screens are aging your skin? Guinot’s new Sun Logic (available in SPF 20 and SPF 30) is an anti-aging sunscreen that protects the skin not only from harmful UVA and UVB rays, but also from blue light rays from TVs, computers, and mobile phones – keeping skin safe both in the office and at the beach.

Spring Awakening: With Nayara Springs’ Digital Detox, guests are invited to lock away their tablets, smart phones, and laptops and unwind with daily yoga and meditation, a Nature Escape Spa package (hot stone massage, facial, and relaxation time in the natural mineral hot springs), and a birdwatching tour. If you’re too anxious to have your phone under lock and key, start with baby steps and enjoy evening candlelight yoga at the rainforest yoga pavilion. The natural background sounds of chirping tree frogs and a babbling stream below sets the tone for low-impact poses designed to relax the body in preparation for sleep.

Tub and Tonic: At the newly opened Shou Sugi Ban House wellness retreat in the Hamptons, guests are encouraged to return to the simplicity of self. They’ll end each evening with a soak and sleep tonic before bed. Each guest studio is outfitted with either a modern air massage soaking tub or Japanese soaking tub, called Hinoki ofuro.

A No Phone Zone: Nantucket Island Resort’s The Wauwinet encourages guests to stay in the moment and enjoy the view without distraction by restricting phone use while relaxing on the green lawn.

Midnight Snacks

Enjoy a midnight snack on your own private terrace at The Chatwal, New York

Midnight snacks don’t have to be taboo. Instead, think of late-night dining as the ultimate vacation indulgence: a chance to eat and drink in an off-the-beaten path location at an off-beat hour.

Morocco: At the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, guests of Royal Mansour can enjoy a starry night away from the busy lights of Marrakech. Following a private tour on 4×4 vehicles, guests can indulge in sunset cocktails and a gourmet dinner in their own private camp, served with just the glow of candles, torches, and a blanket of stars above.

Paris: Located just off the Champs-Elysées, La Réserve Paris offers a decidedly luxurious take on the midnight snack. The concierge can coordinate a private midnight dinner in the closed Grand Palais, which is located across the street from the property. Afterward, guests can fall asleep in two very distinct accommodations – the hotel with its 19th century Parisian living style, or the affiliated apartments with a more contemporary French experience.

Antarctica: Dine under the midnight sun in the Antarctic Circle with PONANT’s ‘Beyond the Polar Circle’ sailings. The 17-day/16-night journey takes guests roundtrip from Ushuaia, Argentina, with ports of call including New Island, one of the most remote islands in the Falkland archipelago and home to the world’s largest colony of thin-billed prions. Outings and shore visits to the Antarctic Peninsula led by a team of experienced naturalist guides are also available.

South Africa: Guests at andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve can spend a magical night dining and sleeping under the stars. After a leisurely game drive, arrive at a romantic camp in the middle of the bush where you’ll enjoy dinner al fresco before retiring to a luxurious sleep setup that includes duvets and warm blankets draped with billowing mosquito nets.

New York City: If you get caught between the moon and New York City, the best thing you can do is have a campfire. Seriously. At The Chatwal, guests can request a fire pit with a customizable s’mores kit to create a delectable midnight treat on one of the 14 signature terraces.

St. Barth: Midnight snack? Let’s add in: midnight dancing on tables. Just a quick walk away from The Christopher, St. Barth is Le Ti St. Barth, the popular restaurant with dinner and a cabaret show every night. Enjoy a quiet sunset by the pool before heading out to let your hair down.

Barcelona: It’s a well-known fact that locals in Barcelona eat dinner late. Very late. Ease into the tradition with a stay at Almanac Barcelona, where the on-site Azimuth Rooftop Bar serves food – and a BBQ in the summer months – until 11 p.m. and drinks until 1 a.m. The glass-enclosed lounge offers panoramic views of Barcelona, perfect for a night cap. The short walk down to your room to promptly head to bed ensures a smooth adjustment to Barcelona time.

Jamaica: A beverage named for the inky black sky – how chic! Head to any one of the Island Outpost properties in Jamaica and sip on the Black Storm, a cocktail made from Blackwell Rum, ginger beer and bitters. Island Outpost is a collection of hotels that includes GoldenEye, Ian Fleming’s retreat and where the author wrote all 14 of the James Bond novels.

Your home: You don’t have to travel far to indulge in a special midnight snack. Available worldwide for online ordering direct, La Maison du Chocolat’s Bien Etre collection packs all of the chocolate flavor without the guilt. Translating to “well-being,” Bien Être is collection of naturally sweetened, dairy-free and gluten-free fruit ganaches. New this year is a snack-sized edition that’s perfect for satisfying on-the-go sweets cravings.