No matter what far-flung corners of the world you’ve been lucky enough to visit, we can all but promise you’ve never been somewhere like andBeyond Soussusvlei Desert Lodge. Nestled amongst swooping mountains of crimson sand, peaks of petrified sand dunes and miles upon miles of cracked ground, this remote corner of Namibia is more like the surface of Mars than anywhere else on Earth.
It should be said that getting here is no mean feat. Traveling from London was just shy of 24 hours, with no less than three planes. However, the minute the final plane (a very tiny private charter from Windhoek) hits the lodge’s airstrip where a welcoming party is waiting with freshly popped champagne, that extended journey is completely forgotten.
andBeyond Sossusvlei sits on a 31,420-acre private reserve which, bar the lodge and its outbuildings, is devoid of man-made structures. The lodge itself is an extension of the earth that surrounds it, with an immense rusty-red iron structure jutting out from the ground. It is here that guests find the heart of the hotel: a serene communal lounge and dining area built around a central bar, where the unfalteringly friendly team are always on hand to whip up a cocktail or an iced tea.
[See also: The Most Anticipated Hotel Openings of 2023]
Inviting sofas are perched both inside and out (floor-to-ceiling glass doors blur the lines between the two), with a careful curation of local art dotted around the space. The watering hole beyond provides a constant source of entertainment, with ostrich, oryx, springbok and even, if you’re lucky, the odd zebra all popping in to say hi throughout the day.
The lodge (along with three other andBeyond properties) is a member of Beyond Green, a collection of luxury resorts and hotels around the world that have been hand-selected for their industry-leading eco-conscious credentials. Membership is strict, with each inclusion subject to comprehensive vetting and stringent guidelines, with re-inspections every two years.
At andBeyond Sossusvlei Lodge, this eco-conscious attitude is not just a tick-boxing exercise, but rather an ethos ingrained into every inch of its operations. Plenty of initiatives are in place across the board, with Beyond Green particularly highlighting the lodge’s on-site water purification system, which mitigates the equivalent of 45,478 plastic bottles per year; smart use of hybrid-solar energy and local heritage preservation efforts. If you ever wanted proof that sustainability can be remarkably luxurious, you need only look to andBeyond Sossusvlei.
[See also: andBeyond and Beyond Green Partner on New Luxury Travel Platform]
andBeyond Sossusvlei is about as intimate as hotels come, with a total of just 10 suites, including the two-bedroom Star Dune Suite. Each room is guaranteed to top any you’ve stayed in before. Sprawling out either side of the main lodge, each suite is completely discrete and private, with a smart design cleverly ensuring that you can’t see out to any of your neighbors.
Thanks to a relatively recent renovation that wrapped up in 2019, the suites are gorgeously chic, blending sleek minimal interiors with more earthy, natural finishes. Each one boasts a quite frankly ginormous bed, overlooking a sliding glass wall that frames the sand dunes beyond. The en-suite bathroom is equally as impressive with an enveloping rain shower right in front of those massive windows.
The pièce de resistance, however, is undoubtedly the private pools, which sit exposed to the wild desert landscape – don’t be surprised if you make eye contact with an oryx during your dip. Even during cooler months, soaring temperatures mean that excursions take place either first thing in the morning or once the sun has set, leaving the daytime free to bask in the delights of your secluded suite.
[See also: Prestigious Peninsula: Inside Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica]
Special touches are aplenty, but our favorites were easily the help-yourself, all-inclusive mini-bar, which featured a whole host of local wines and spirits (a Namibian G&T by the pool comes highly recommended); the retractable skylight above the bed for a little pre-sleep stargazing; and the Swarovski binoculars that are yours for the duration of you stay. There doesn’t seem to be a single thing the andBeyond team hasn’t thought of.
Aside from being almost embarrassingly luxurious, true to its character, andBeyond Sossusvlei’s accommodations are also impressively sustainable. Making the most of that powerful Namibian sun are a series of subtle solar panels which are capable of powering the entire suite, as well as the water treatment systems that sit hidden behind each room. The lodge is also about to start trials of heating the pool water via the sun, too (the pools are admittedly a little brisk otherwise).
There is absolutely zero chance of ever going hungry, with the lodge making good on its all-inclusive promise seemingly every hour of the day. Breakfasts are as filling or as delicate as you like; go big with the a la carte menu and the waffle and pancake station, or keep it restrained with a plate of fresh fruit from the buffet.
Lunch and dinner are both a la carte, with a rotating selection of dishes. Lunch might be a light salad or a soup, but dinner is where the lodge’s chefs really flex their muscles. International influence is beautifully interpreted via local ingredients and no two nights are the same: one evening might offer a brilliant selection of curries while the next could be centered around hunks of meat. Don’t be surprised to see oryx or springbok on the menu.
While the main lodge has plenty of beautiful spots to enjoy a meal (inside the well-stocked wine cellar is particularly lovely), do make the most of the chance to dine in the wilderness too. An evening meal under the stars promises to be particularly romantic.
[See also: The Future of Beyond Green with CEO Lindsey Ueberroth]
Again, sustainability is core with andBeyond Sosssuvlei’s dining options. The lodge works closely with neighboring resorts (if you can call a property tens of miles away a neighbor) to minimize food deliveries to the local area, and makes the most of Namibian produce and meats wherever possible.
Just in case being able to slowly glide through your own private pool while the Namibian wildlife saunters alongside you wasn’t relaxing enough, andBeyond Sossusvlei also has a calming wellness area.
Located on the second floor of the main lodge, the two-part space features a serene two-bed treatment room as well as a private spa-bath. Treatments on offer are focused on healing and renewal – the Healing Earth African Shea Butter Ritual is particularly absorbing, with a surprisingly serious full-body massage easing out any muscle aches.
Adjoining the spa area is a small but well-stocked gym space. Like everywhere else in the lodge, the views are unbelievable, but if it’s cardio you want, a run through the reserve can’t be beaten.
[See also: Natural Paradise: Inside the Eco-Luxe Habitas Tulum]
The list of things to do at andBeyond Sossusvlei is, quite frankly, staggering. Daily drives out to the nearby dunes come as standard (as do the indulgent sundowners that greet you when you arrive), with your dedicated guide on hand to point out the area’s resilient wildlife and explain the region’s vast archeological history.
For thrill-seekers, there’s also the chance to take the dunes on quadbikes or make use of the lodge’s collection of e-bikes. Given the lack of natural predators in the reserve – the odd leopard has been spotted, but they are more scared of you than you them – it’s safe to explore as you please. Guests can feel completely confident hiking the surrounding hills around the lodge or running through the planes in front (but a guide will be on hand to join if you prefer).
Further afield, the excursions continue. Be sure to book a hot air balloon experience; the chance to witness the sun break across the horizon as you soar thousands of feet above the ground is truly once in a lifetime (and every bit worth the 4am wake-up call).
[See also: Elite Traveler Reveals Top Adventures 2022]
Another must-do is a trip into the heart of the Sossusvlei National Park to hike up the ‘Big Daddy’ sand dune. Slowly trudge up the soaring dune in single file (or fast if you prefer; we didn’t) before stopping for the impressive photo op at the top.
Once you’ve got your fill of the view, it’s time to race through the pillowy sand to the bottom for a walk along the dramatic Dead Svlei with its petrified trees. The freshly cooked breakfast and a mimosa that greet you at the end feel more deserved than ever.
Back at the lodge, the excitement doesn’t end when the sun goes down, either. The property borders the NamibRand Nature Reserve, which is one of the world’s few designated dark sky reserves, with guests invited to gaze at it with the lodge’s resident astronomer in the dedicated observatory. To put it lightly, the night skies here are mesmerizing. Constellations you’d hardly know existed in a city dazzle above, while shooting stars are a dime a dozen.
Rates at andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, a member of Beyond Green, start from $1,134. For further information or to book, visit staybeyondgreen.com.
[See also: Luxury Hotel Collections Championing Responsible Travel]