Five Far-Off, Life-Changing Getaways


Looking to travel for beauty and adventure? Don't want to give up luxury?

Here are five destinations sure to please the hip, the romantic, the thrill-seeker and more without skimping on amenities, even in the middle of nowhere.

The Far-Off Chic Adventurer
Unchartered Africa's San Camp -- Kalahari Desert
Reason to Go: Six-star tent camp in world's most removed frontier

Its location couldn't be more remote, San Camp by Uncharted Africa -- owners of celebrity hotspot Jack's Camp -- unveils an all-new design along a reef palm oasis in the middle of the Makgadikgadi Pans and Kalahari Desert in Botswana.

Exotic animals like rare brown hyena and African aardvarks roam the great plain, offering one of the most romantic adventure experiences in the world. With no manmade structures and no human life, the beauty of the area is its sheer nothingness and what is perhaps the quietest and most untouched place on earth.

The luxury tent camp is constructed of antique safari tents from the 1940s arranged with nickel-bucket showers, wooden canopy beds and paraffin lamps. Uncharted Africa maintains luxury amentieis by sheer manpower as there is no electricity at any of its upscale retreats. But that simply means that luxury is built by human hand with five-star dining and silver-tray service that is never more than a nod away.

A mere six freestanding safari suites means exclusivity and high staff-guest ratio. All this while you roam the prehistoric lakebeds afoot and on all-terrain dune bikes looking for prehistoric antiquities and extinct fossils of animals like the giant zebra.

The Far-Off Romantic
Ksar Char Bagh -- Marrakech
Reason to Go: The Marrakech dream experience without the rabid tourism

It's a dusty 15-minute ride from city-center, a trip very likely made in the hotel's own London taxi, on a bumpy country road through inhospitable desert of weathered palm trees and endless horizon. Located near Amanjena by Aman Resorts, visitors arrive at this 13-villa mini-resort greeted by its Parisian owners, Nicole and Patrick LeVillair, and their exceptionally mannered staffed.

Built as a new structure in 2004, the hotel and its architecture seem far older than its four years. Tall clay-colored walls with meticulous detailing surround a central courtyard that boasts reflecting pool and Persian rose garden.

An extravagantly long rectangular pool is one of the prettiest in Africa, with sparse loungers and isolating view of the desert. To entertain the easily distracted, the property also features a basement hammam, billiards room and clay tennis court.

The inhouse restaurant, decorated in all-white marble, is home to chef Damien Durand, formerly of Ducasse and Robuchon. He presides over a seafood-minded affair of fine French cuisine.

A 10-minute drive from central Marrakech, the hotel offer a chic getaway removed from the tour-bus and bartering madness of the inner city.

The Far-Off Thrill Seeker
Eichardt's Private Lodge -- Queenstown
Reason to Go: Luxurious springtime in New Zealand's Remarkables

As the snow season comes to a halt and Lake Wakatipu begins its spring rise, visitors arrive on harrowing flights into the Queenstown basin, where a private car chauffeurs guests between the single-runway airport and downtown lodge. Established as an upscale lodge during the 1860s gold rush, Eichardt's Private Hotel survived much of the 20th Century in great disrepair until being refurbished by hotelier Victoria Shaw and turned into Queenstown's preeminent private hotel.

A glassy atrium-like edifice attached to the historic building is lined in black-and-white marble leading to a central reception area that connects the front desk and intimate bar. The first floor is home to a cozy public restaurant with small bar serving exquisite gourmet lunches and nibbles throughout the day and evening. Upstairs is a series of five distinctively stylish guest apartments arranged along white-paneled hallways, offering a mix of modern and antique furnishings assembled by New Zealand top decorator Virginia Fisher.

The Far-Off Island Hotspot
Saint Lucia -- Caribbean Sea
Reason to Go: It's the new St. Bart's of the world's globetrotting glitterati

So long, St. Barth's. Ta-Ta, Turks and Caicos. The latest island oasis to emerge from the crystal Caribbean as the new it-spot is St. Lucia. Beyond the magnificent beaches and silhouette of two giant volcanic peaks, St. Lucia is a natural paradise of tropical rainforests flush with exotic wildlife, jaw-dropping waterfalls and freshwater swimming holes bubbling with natural springs.

Still free of package hotel operators and faux-European architecture, St. Lucia is an environmental wonder with a lineup of hot new hotels taking an architectural edge in traditional Caribbean construction.

Ever-hip Jade Mountain at Anse Chastaent is still the island's hottest hotel with its fashionable concrete façade and eco-design by Russian-Canadian architect Nick Troubetzkoy. The resort is home to 24 awesome suites jettisoning out over the Caribbean with exterior walls exposed to all the tropical elements and a few manmade ones like infinity-edged pool with fiberoptic lighting.

New properties are opening everywhere on the island including The Landings by RockResorts and Cap Maison, the island's first-ever luxury boutique hotel. Not far behind are outposts of Westin, Ritz-Carlton and Raffles, which are slated to open by 2010.

The Far-Off Architecture Lover
Moonlight Head -- Australia
Reason to Go: Glassy ocean palace near one of world's geological wonders

It sits atop a grassy hilltop clinging to the Australian continent as a glassy wonder in the backdrop of the Cape Otway Lighthouse. Moonlight Lodge and its ever-expanding collection of private lodges and forthcoming boutique hotel stares across the seas of Bass Strait located two-and-a-half hours from Melbourne. The views are nothing short of transformational, as long as you can take your eyes away the manmade brilliance created from the work by Pritzker award-winning architect Glenn Murcut that has made it one of the most exclusive luxury lodges in its hemisphere.

The L-shaped resort is intersected by an erupting roofline of glass skylights accenting stark white walls and stone details exploding in natural lighting. Persian rugs accent a minimalist oasis of Italian design among freestanding enamel fireplaces blazing throughout the year and walls strewn with environmental photography.

Unconventional bathrooms bring the outdoors inside with double-basin floating sinks and cocoon-shaped soaking tub. Lux perks like a private chef and a garage of Maseratis are available for personal disposal and drop-top getaways to the nearby Twelve Apostles.

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