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Desert Rock luxury eco-resort lets you sleep in the mountains of Saudi Arabia

The hotel is part of The Red Sea Project, an immense initiative by the Middle Eastern nation to redefine green tourism.

As luxury evolves into the 21st century, the glamour of ostentatious art deco-inspired monoliths or massive resort complexes wanes in the face of a more thoughtful look at luxury living. This applies even to the somewhat-maximalist sensibilities apparent in Middle Eastern tourism, which is now, more than ever, taking a nature-focused look at extravagance.

The simply-named Desert Rock, in all its 48-villa and 12-suite glory, will be nestled within the crook of a mountain in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The project – already underway since July – is fronted by The Red Sea Development Company, a company funded by Saudi Arabia in the hopes of developing the western coast of the country into a tourist destination at once sustainable and worth visiting.

It’s an ambitious project. Turning some 28,000 sq km of desert, mountains and ninety islands into a paradise is no mean feat. Miami-based Oppenheim Architecture throws in with the likes of Kengo Kuma and Foster + Partners with their mountainous eco-resort.

For one, Desert Rock is integrated directly into the craggy granite massif it’s perched upon. A number of living accommodations are available, from ground-level hotel rooms to suites integrated into the mountain face itself, halfway up the peak. Excavated stone and sand will be converted into the resort’s predominantly-concrete architecture; stone panels will also be used on exterior and interior walls and flooring.

Said founder of Oppenheim Architecture, Chad Oppenheim, in a press release, “Desert Rock offers a ‘never before seen’ opportunity for guests to connect physically and metaphysically with one of the most dramatic desert landscapes in the world. Our key intention when designing the resort was to build with the land, not on it.”

Just as it’s harmoniously, well, intertwined with a mountain, the resort was designed to be extraordinarily eco-friendly. It’s fashioned to net the highest in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification with energy- and water-conserving systems. Light and sound pollution, another bugbear for the eco-friendly resort of tomorrow, will also be minimized by way of redirecting roads away from the desert landscape guests are meant to enjoy.

Despite being in a mountain, the hotel will still come with a full suite of amenities including a spa, fitness centre and dining rooms. The lattermost, of course, stand to benefit from the magnificent, unfettered views of the desert landscape. 

Planned outdoor activities for the guests include dune buggies for exhilarating dune bashing, guided hikes and star gazing. In line with Desert Rock’s mission to maintain harmony with the land, members of the local community will be hired as both tour guide and steward for the resort. 

Desert Rock is set to house its first guests late 2022. The entire project, which will comprise some 50 resorts, golf courses, marinas and a slew of entertainment and leisure facilities – and an international airport to boot – is expected to complete in 2030.

For more on The Red Sea Development Company and Oppenheim Architecture.