JOURNEY DEEP INTO THE WORLD’S MOST EXOTIC AND REMOTE LANDSCAPES TO FIND LUXURY TENTED RETREATS THAT ARE AS WILD AND VITALIZING AS THEY ARE SEDATIVE AND SERENE.
BY AMANDA MCCOY
Jetting into the Pacific from Mexico’s western edge, the spear-shaped peninsula of Punta Mita is a nirvana of sugary sand, rich tropical foliage, and ultra-exclusive resorts, including this newly opened tented retreat from Four Seasons. A stay here is designed to be transformative, an immersive experience that brings guests closer to nature, both physically and spiritually. All meals, community activities, mind and body practices, and daily spa treatments are included as a means to promote simplicity and make overnighters feel like house guests rather than resort customers.
The experience begins crossing a cocoon-inspired, bamboo-sheathed bridge looming over a forest ravine, where guests meet their personal guides and are escorted to their temple in the trees, one of only 15 luxury tents buried deep in the treetops overlooking the ocean. Conceptualized by Luxury Frontiers following biophilic design principles – an architectural approach that strengthens the connection between human and nature – the villas range in size from 1,259 to 1,722 square feet.
Each tent features a dedicated bedroom and local stone bath stocked with local toiletries, plus an open-air living room that seamlessly flows into a massive terrace that serenades guests with the feral symphony of Riviera Nayarit. Outdoor amenities are plenty, from private plunge pools and sunken fire pits to oversized hammocks and open-air showers. Furniture, artwork, games, and textiles were sourced by local artisans and craftspeople.
Guests can choose from a vast array of daily and signature experiences. Embark on an invigorating nature hike to the Aztatlán ruins, catch fresh snapper for dinner along the rocky shore, or take a deep dive into Aztec culture at a Metztli mythology session. There’s also the House of Heat, a traditional temazcal (sweat lodge) that hosts ancestral shamanic rituals believed to detoxify the body, improve the respiratory system, and alleviate mild depression. Rooms begin at $3,950 per night.
SABORA TENTED CAMP
Set in Tanzania’s western Serengeti, where the “big five” (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, and rhino) peregrinate the feral bush, this tented dream from leading eco-luxury hospitality brand Singita offers a modern interpretation of the traditional African safari, an ode to the intrepid explorers of yore who set up tents on multi-month expeditions through the wild. The camp is in the heart of 350,000 acres of protected wilderness in the Singita Grumeti Reserve, offering guests a VIP ticket to a primetime wildlife show, including the Great Wildebeest Migration, which typically begins between late April and early June.
A topless Land Cruiser awaits at Sasakwa Airport to whisk adventurers to the camp, where guest accommodations of only nine self-contained canvas suites ensure an intimate, highly personalized experience. Each minimalist tent was fashioned in traditional safari style to promote reflection and connection with the elements. Foster mindfulness from your private mediation deck, journal on a daybed in the open-air sala, or deepen your yoga practice in the fitness area. Each tent also features a lifestyle unit with a pantry and dining space, which can be stocked with a platter of gourmet items from the Guest Deli. Massive stone soaking tubs overlook a watering hole, where game often flock to graze and bathe. There’s also a swimming pool in the main lodge area to cool off under the intense African sun, along with a boutique and gallery filled with hand-made jewelry and keepsakes from local artisans.
Game drives are one of the top experiences, a twice-daily journey deep into the most remote and untouched areas of the vast reserve, from hidden valleys and riverine woodlands to rolling grasslands where giraffe and elephants roam free. Additional activities include guided safari walks to track animals on foot, community visits to local villages, and hot air balloon rides to take in the bush from the sky (the latter requires booking in advance). Back at camp, a tented spa offers bespoke healing treatments inspired by indigenous rituals. Follow a rejuvenating massage with a glass of syrah from the resort’s extensive wine cellar, filled with exclusive release, limited single vineyard, and rare auction labels. Rooms begin at $2,785 per adult.
The treetops of the vast Balinese rainforest hum with life, from speckled frogs and disappearing iguanas to mischievous long-tailed macaques that frolic and play among the leaves. This elevated camp offers a passage to join their world, its spacious canvas treehouses nearly invisible from the ground. Venerated designer Bill Bensley (the mind behind hospitality heavy hitters like the Siam and the InterContinental Danang) was tapped by owner Suwito Gunawan to lead the concept, and eccentric touches like colorful antique furniture and brass monkey statues epitomize his artful eye.
There are 22 one-bedroom tents along with one two-bedroom manor on the property, each boasting stone infinity pools that seem to defy gravity. Rooms offer either Keliki Valley, rainforest, or river views, and all are furnished with spacious outdoor terraces, indoor and outdoor showers, and al fresco dining areas for feasting amid the jungle’s never-ending show. Spring for the flagship lodge, a staggering mega-villa dressed in traditional Chinese design. It boasts an open-concept living room, extra large wooden deck, 205-foot pool, and a pair of bathrooms, one with a Japanese tub and the other a hand-hammered copper bath.
Two signature restaurants sit on site, along with an open-air jungle bar and campsite for swapping stories under the stars. Capella’s tented dining room, Mads Lange, hand-harvests ingredients for its seasonal menu from neighboring farms and local waters. Think fresh red snapper, crispy crab tacos, and Wagyu brisket. Api Jiwa, on the other hand, focuses on an eight to ten-course omakase menu, served at an intimate chef ’s counter or private table. Rooms begin around $900 per night.
Most postcards of the Australian Outback star Uluru, a 1,100-foot-tall sandstone red rock half a billion years in the making and one of the country’s most iconic natural landmarks. Visitors travel far and wide to peep the monolith for the afternoon, but this eco-luxury camp allows overnighters to fall asleep while Uluru keeps watch from a distance. Rising from the gateway to the dual World Heritage-listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the safari-inspired resort is a diamond of the Red Center, and Uluru is visible from practically every inch of the resort, from the guest beds and outdoor hot tubs to the central Dune House.
Canvas-topped pavilions in crisp white juxtapose rust-hued sand dunes resting under a vast blue sky. Tents boast floor-to-ceiling glass, open-air decks with daybeds, fireplaces, and spa-like en-suites with rainfall showers. The safari-inspired décor is a mix of high-end custom furniture from Australian brands and artifacts from indigenous makers. Each room is also finished with a complimentary mini bar loaded with a platter of beverages and locally sourced gourmet treats. The flagship Dune Pavilion – which can tout the only vantage point of both Uluru and the 36-rock formation of Kata Tjuta – is a two-bed, two-bath tented villa ornamented with EcoSmart fireplaces, a massive outdoor lounge, and a private plunge pool.
Benefit from the energy and natural restorative properties of the desert at Spa Kinara, housed in a wiltja, a traditional Aboriginal shelter. Treatments feature native Red Center products like Kakadu plum, quandongs, scented Emu Bush, desert lime, Australian yellow clay, and nutrient-rich desert salts. Find your center through a suite of signature ceremonies, including the Dreaming, based on ancient Aboriginal healing rituals that date back thousands of years. Rooms begin at $2,500 per night.