Travel Tips

7 Luxury Hotels to Witness Natural Wonders from Your Room

It’s a sign that a good vacation is about to be had when your head swivels back and forth between the grandeur of the natural scenery and the man-made accommodations in which its sits. These elite hotels, while rare, are planted in beautiful, earthy wonders around the world. Consider taking in iconic rock formations from the comfort of your private balcony; playing a game of golf on championship courses in view of stunning coastal panoramas; or jumping in a boat for a ride around a mysteriously beautiful lake. For the adventurous sort, hike majestic ecosystems or go horseback riding along demarcated trails. See why developers chose to build these seven hotels within these breathtaking settings.

Photo: Getty Images/Ricardo Dionísio

Fairmont Banff Springs (Banff, Canada)

Seven Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and unsurprisingly, Banff National Park in Alberta made the cut. Here, the Fairmont Banff Springs looks out to the snow-capped Rockies, and in the fall, the larch trees are awash in shades of yellow and gold along places like Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass. On and around the property, you can hike; golf the Fairmont’s 27-hole championship golf course; fish; river-raft; horseback-ride; and ski.

Photo: Courtesy of Villa La Estancia

Villa La Estancia (Los Cabos, Mexico)

A gathering place for playful sea lions, the arch of Cabo San Lucas (El Arco) is a distinctive rock formation in the Mexican Baja Peninsula. From your window of the Villa La Estancia Los Cabos, you can glimpse El Arco inside Hacienda-style spacious suites that can accommodate up to eight guests. When you’re not taking advantage of the suite’s fully equipped kitchens, you can savor steaks and locally caught fish at the on-site La Parilla restaurant. From the hotel, a five-minute walk lands you at Medano Beach, the most bustling seascape in the area. Order empanadas from a friendly roadside vendor; breathe in fresh air while parasailing; or charter a yacht with companions to snorkel along the waters near El Arco.

Photo: Courtesy of Tierra Atacama

Tierra Atacama (San Pedro de Atacama, Chile)

In Chile, you can witness the arid landscape of the west Andes Mountains from the window of Tierra Atacama. From the hotel’s Oriente Rooms, views of the Licancabur volcano are seen through the sliding glass doors that lead to a private terrace. The slightly larger Poniente Rooms also offer a sweeping private terrace, but include outdoor showers overlooking the Salt Mountain Range. Day excursions include horseback riding along the San Pedro de Atacama trails; viewing historic petroglyphs; and a two-hour hike past impressive cacti and thermal pools in the Guatin Gatchi Valley.

Photo: Marko Bradich

Casa Palopó (San Antonio Palopó, Guatemala)

Located in the Guatemalan Highlands, Lake Atitlan has a mystical energy called Xocomil—strong, sudden midday winds that occur on a regular basis. There is also the stunning Casa Palopó, which overlooks three imposing volcanoes: San Pedro, Atitlan, and Toliman. The hotel recently unveiled six new guest rooms and suites with views of the surrounding greenery, lake, and volcanoes. Furnishings are rustic, with finished wood accents handmade by industrial designer Diego Oliver. Need healing? The hotel offers a Mayan Shaman Ceremony on the helipad overlooking the lake. Or take a boat tour to the indigenous villages that surround Lake Atitlan, and discover art and weaving cooperatives in San Juan La Laguna; yoga retreats in San Marcos; or pottery in San Antonio.

Photo: Chris Burkard

Sheldon Chalet (Alaska, USA)

Denali is the highest mountain peak in North America, planted inside the picturesque Alaska Range. The new Sheldon Chalet is perched on a nunatak 6,000 feet above the Don Sheldon Amphitheatre on Denali’s Ruth Glacier. The five-room chalet is only accessible by helicopter from Anchorage or Talkeetna, and once inside, you look out into sweeping views of the Summit of Denali. The eco-conscious chalet has an expert team on hand including two guides, a chef and a concierge that will arrange day trekking on Ruth Glacier, igloo-building, and heli-fishing.

Photo: Courtesy of Longitude 131°

Longitude 131° (Yulara, Australia)

Situated on top of an isolated sand dune close the border of Uluru-Kata Tjunta National Park, Longitude 131° is a luxury tented accommodation planted near Australia’s iconic Uluru (also called Ayers Rock). This massive sandstone monolith, thought to have formed 550 million years ago, can be hiked around the starkly red desert landscape with the guidance of Original Travel. At night, take in the stars from your private balcony at Longitude 131°, or sip on a cocktail from the hotel’s main lodge, Dune House, which is highlighted by local artwork and its sweeping views of the surroundings via floor-to-ceiling glass panes.

Photo: Courtesy of The Royal Livingstone

The Royal Livingstone (Livingstone, Zambia)

The crashing of the 350-foot-high waves of Victoria Falls of Zambia from your window at the Royal Livingstone will constantly impress as well as soothe. If you don’t mind coming neck to neck with giraffe and zebras, you will find them freely roaming the grounds of the property. Not to mention the mischievous monkey that might steal an apple or a tube of toothpaste if you leave the door to your room open. Laze on your private patio while enjoying the swaying Zambezi River, or watch the sunset and ripples from swimming hippos from the property’s elevated sundeck.

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