Forget tangled mosquito nets, sweat-drenched nights, and damp canvas walls – sleeping in the wild no longer needs to be a ‘roughing it’ experience. Five-star resorts around the world are witnessing a travelling desire to reconnect with nature and are setting up camps of sass and splendour.
Lavish resorts that take you back to nature
Forget tangled mosquito nets, sweat-drenched nights, and damp canvas walls – sleeping in the wild no longer needs to be a ‘roughing it’ experience. Five-star resorts around the world are witnessing a travelling desire to reconnect with nature and are setting up camps of sass and splendour. Those well-heeled adventurers who dream of drifting away beneath branch and moon and waking to the melody of birdsong and dappled sunlight will fall in love with our selection. From grown-up silver service summer camps in Canada to tantalising treehouses in the jungles of Costa Rica, these handpicked homes in the heart of nature are sure to drive you wild.
Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Uganda
Waking to the sound of a male silverback thumping his chest deep in the green-cloaked misty mountains of Uganda is one of the most remarkable experiences you could wish for. The impenetrable Bwindi Forest is far from the tourist track of Africa. Here, in the velvet heartlands, only eight luxury tents make up the Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp. Candlelit bathtubs, indigenous prints, and custom designed furnishings set the scene for intimate nights and exclusive days. Each cabin even comes with its own walkie-talkie, so you can order tall cool drinks to be delivered without having to abandon the sanctuary of your private space. Communal spaces are light and breezy – perfect for lazy breakfasts and sharing trekking stories around the campfire. Of course the major draw here is the chance to track endangered gorillas in the wild, but for the intrepid – you will also find Batwa tribe experiences, wild encounters at the Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Africology spa days. sanctuaryretreats.com/uganda-camps-gorilla-forest
Hapuku Lodge, New Zealand
Surrounded by the drama of the Kaikoura’s Mountains and close enough to the whale-rich waters of New Zealand’s South Island, the Hapuku Lodge is heaven sent for nature lovers. The treehouse suites sit tucked away between the branches of native manuka towering above a 1600-acre deer farm. Beautifully crafted from reclaimed timber and soaring glass, the lodge is nothing short of a knockout. Eco bliss is a high priority at this stunning spot – where power is solar generated, food gathered from the local farms and brand-new trees constantly planted to keep the area in bloom. Be sure to book one of the five treehouse suites with their far-reaching ocean and canopy views, reading nooks, spa tubs, crackling wood fires and private decks.Relaxed luxury is the name of the game at Hapuku; from lounging beside the generous solar heated pool to surfing the breakers at nearby Mangamaunu Bay, borrowing bikes to hit the nearby trails, and whale watching trips. hapukulodge.com
Finca Bellavista, Costa Rica
High in the rainforest of Costa Rica, guests can sleep in the boughs of branches and wake to the melody of hummingbirds. Finca Bellavista is a fully self-sustainable small resort slotted beautifully into the natural landscape. Surrounded by 600 acres of canopy and with zip lines careening through the trees, this is the ultimate off-grid experience. The collection of treehouse cabins each boast their own personality – soaring windows, crackling log burners, large cosy beds, balconies and even kitchenettes are just a few of the features on offer. As treehouses are scattered across the canopy and land, you have the feeling of being alone in the woods. Riverside massages, hikes along lost nature trails, and daily asana meditation set you beautifully on the right track to healing bliss. Those who want to explore further can head out to visit nearby chocolate farms, explore the mangroves, and horseback ride to the Nauyaca Waterfalls. fincabellavista.com
Treebones Resort, California
California’s Big Sur coast captures the essence of barefoot bohemia with a side of luxury living. The Treebones Resort invites guests to leave but a whisper of a footprint with its fully sustainable and enchanting eco approach. Beautiful yurts invite luscious lounging in one of America’s most dramatic coastal scenes where mighty cliffs plummet into the wild waves below and redwood forests stand tall and silent beneath the stars. Days are lost to endless meditation, massages, ocean kayaking and eco-tours of the sublime Big Sur coastline. Only 16 yurts make up the Treebones Resort, each offering rich wooden floors, full sized futons, colourful quilts, and redwood decks with Adirondack chairs for drinking down those sublime Californian style sunsets. The Wild Coast Restaurant markets itself as offering glampers refined campfire cuisine with dishes like willow creek beets, bison burgers and elegant local wines and craft beers to suit. A fresh sushi bar also calls on the finest flavours of the sea. treebonesresort.com
Wickaninnish Inn, Canada
Those who prefer a slice of luxury to their wilderness stays will fall head over heels for the boutique bliss that is the Wickaninnish Inn in Canada’s tantalising Tofino. This is bear and whale country – as the resort is locked between the fragrant cedars and the surf of Chesterman Beach you will find yourself gloriously caught in the net of the Pacific Rim National Park. The whole resort is bedecked in natural coastal inspired materials, warm woods, slate tiles and even polished pebbles from the sea. Rooms are wow, with the more expensive suites boasting flickering fireplaces, double tubs, reading benches, heated tiled floors and front row surf views. As to be expected from this pristine perch on the rich Pacific Coast, the food is fabulously fresh. The Dungeness crab cookouts on the beach complete with sky lapping campfires is the only way to end a dream day riding the surf, whale spotting, or grizzly trekking in the forest. wickinn.com
Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, Canada
Canada’s rare and remote wilderness is a vision of grizzly bears catching salmon on the shores, glacial turquoise lagoons, the scent of warm fir and mountains so dramatic they puncture the skyline. You don’t ever want to tear yourself away, fortunately, at the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort you don’t have to. This lavish five-star summer camp sits right on the rush of the Bedwell River – with a handful of elegant safari tents inviting the well-heeled elite to escape the crush of the modern world. These tents go beyond zip and canvas – polished wood floors, cast iron burners and silver antiques make for a romantic hideaway.
Days are spent on bear watching safaris, horseback rides, whale watching and soaring through the canopies on ziplines. When dusk falls, the dishes whipped out at the kitchen will make you weak at the knees – coastal fresh, slow cooked and plucked from the gardens – perfect when paired with vintage wines from their well-stocked collection. wildretreat.com
Merzouga Luxury Desert Camp, Morocco
Amidst the rolling dunes and skies hung heavy with stars, guests can lose themselves in the changing colours of Morocco’s shimmering desert. The Merzouga Luxury Desert Camp invites intrepid visitors to head out to the sands of Erg Chebbi, where camel rides, flickering fires, and cooling mint tea are part of the daily routine. The camp itself boasts five-star tented suites with cool canvas walls, king beds, and exotic touches to capture the spirit of the dreamy desert setting. Private dining on top of sand dunes, swishing down the slopes on a sandboard, and four-wheel adventures make for fascinating days. When evening falls, guests are invited to witness the wonder of traditional song and dance or can even book a troupe of Gnaouas or a belly dancer performance. Being so far flung from the city lights, towns or echo of civilisation, Merzouga places you in a wild and challenging environment in the most comfortable way possible.
Longitude 131, Australia
Beneath the shifting red light of Australia’s Ayers Rock, Longitude 131 invites you to experience the untamed outback in the most elegant way possible. The 600-million-year-old rock is hailed as the red heart of Australia and you can feel the synergy of the landscape from your own private deck. Tantalizing tented cabins go the extra mile – adorned in whimsical white fabric, local artwork, and with floor to ceiling windows so you can witness the changing colours of Uluru. The main pavilion is its own oasis away from the delirious desert heat – the self-service bar is a sublime touch, as is the extended pool deck with its frigidly refreshing waters for lingering afternoon dips. Suppers at Longitude call on local ingredients; kangaroo steaks, Australian king prawns, golden mangos and chia jam and wonderful wines. When you aren’t indulging in beautiful bush treatments at the spa, you can hike the base of Uluru, witness the Walpa Gorge and star gaze beneath the arched constellation clad sky. longitude131.com.au
Wollemi Wilderness Treehouse, Australia
Only an hour from the pulsating city of Sydney but a world away in style – the Wollemi Wilderness Treehouse in Australia’s Blue Mountains offers lovers the chance to hide away in the heart of nature. The heritage bushland is a blaze of colour, spanning 600 acres etched across the poetic Blue Mountains. From the tip of your treetop world you can see the dip of the Bowen’s Creek Gorge, the soaring mountain peaks, and light filtering through the trees. The rustic cabin calls on the wonder of wood and sparkling glass in its design, ensuring it slots in beautifully with the rainforest. Floor to ceiling windows invite everlasting gazes out across the wild, and the king bed draped in furs guarantees cosy nights in the canopy. The space even boasts its own spa and kitchenette, so honeymoon hideaways need never venture far. Watch meteor showers from your bed, explore the trails that cut through the woods, and follow the flow of the Colo River. lovecabins.com.au/Tree-House
Four Seasons Tented Camp, Golden Triangle, Thailand
A long and winding boat ride, the depths of the jungle, and elephants come together to make an unforgettable stay at the Four Seasons Tented Camp in Thailand’s Golden Triangle. Being on the borderlands with Myanmar and Laos allows for endless cultural discoveries, but it’s the pleasure of being up close and personal to the rehabilitated elephants that make this wilderness spot so sublime. The lavish tented camp captures a 19th-century safari style vibe with polished hardwood floors, hurricane lamps, and handcrafted furnishings with whimsical romantic notes. Only fifteen air-conditioned tents make up the camp, each offering guests the grace of standalone bathtubs, expansive viewing decks, and some even offering private hot tubs for steamy stargazing. Daily wine and cheese tasting along with private dining at the elephant camp add even more reasons to put the Four Seasons Tented Camp on your bucket list. fourseasons.com/goldentriangle ◼
© This article was first published in Aug-Sept 2018 edition of World Travel Magazine.
If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on World Travel Magazine, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.
And if you liked this story, subscribe to our bi-monthly World Travel Magazine, a handpicked selection of editorial features and stories from Global Destinations, Inspire Me, Insider, Style File, Wellness & Travel, City Travel, Suite Life, At Leisure, Short Breaks and much more.