Have you heard of Astrotourism yet? With light pollution on the rise across the world, travellers are heading to the most remote destinations in order to see the full wealth that the cosmos has to offer. Here are five luxury ‘black sky’ destinations which allow astrotourists to see the stars and planets in the most perfect settings.
BAWAH RESERVE, INDONESIA
Thanks to its remote location, each night spent at the intimate Bawah Reserve (it comprises just 35 beach suites and overwater bungalows) promises a spectacular star show. Guests will see constellations, shooting stars and maybe even witness a meteor shower, all enhanced by the reflection from the surrounding ocean. In addition to stargazing, Bawah offers a plethora of activities, allowing guests to explore the six islands, 13 beaches and three lagoons that make up Bawah Reserve. These include paddleboarding, snorkelling, kayaking, sailing, diving, boat excursions, hiking, birdwatching and nature trails, while those who prefer to take it easy can unwind at the wellness centre complete with an outdoor yoga pavilion.
DEPLAR FARM, ICELAND
Iceland’s incredibly low light pollution and its setting in the remote Troll Peninsula means Deplar Farm’s geothermally heated outdoor pool is the perfect spot from which to stargaze across the clear Icelandic night sky. Even better, at certain times of the year (from October to March), guests can even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Deplar Farm’s interior is just as spectacular as its surroundings, boasting a huge wellness area with steam room, indoor and outdoor saunas, a gym and the stunning outdoor swimming pool – heated to 38 degrees from thermal springs year-round, it has its own built-in sound system and a swim-up bar. There’s also a library, entertainment room with a cinema screen, and two helicopter pads.
SIX SENSES CON DAO, VIETNAM
The first five-star resort in Vietnam’s Con Dao Archipelago, Six Senses Con Dao has its own private Astronomical Observatory, the first and only privately-owned celestial viewing centre which boasts an impressive 127mm Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope, allowing guests to marvel at Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and open clusters such as Pleiades and the Beehive Cluster. It’s all thanks to Six Senses’ regular celebrity astronomer, Dr Parag Mahajani – a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society of London. Comprised of 50 private pool villas, Six Senses Con Dao’s design is contemporary while reflecting the essence of a traditional fishing village.
SÃO LOURENÇO DO BARROCAL, PORTGUGAL
Just two hours east of Lisbon, lies the Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve and its Alqueva Lake Observatory – the first starlight tourism destination in the world – and the nearby São Lourenço do Barrocal, a simple yet elegant farm hotel and spa set in a beautiful 200-year-old country estate. The reserve itself is a protected area with excellent atmospheric conditions and no light pollution, and well-equipped with cutting-edge technology and telescopes to allow guests to learn about astronomy and the night sky from resident experts. Surrounded by a patchwork of endless wheat fields, olive groves, vineyards and wildflower meadows and boasting a swimming pool, spa and fitness area, São Lourenço has 22 rooms and 16 rustic cottages, each with its own outdoor space and far-reaching views.
MILAIDHOO ISLAND, MALDIVES
Stunningly secluded with no light pollution whatsoever, this private island setting of Milaidhoo Island Maldives‘s new ‘Sleep Under the Stars’ experience offers an unforgettable night under the cosmos. After a sunset dolphin cruise – complete with champagne and canapés – in a choice of a luxury yacht or traditional Maldivian sailing boat, cocktails and a four-course dinner are served on the candle-and-lantern-dotted island. By sunset, guests are left completely alone to sip on post-dinner drinks by a fire, before retiring to a canopied four-poster bed to take in the breathtaking views of an unblemished night sky. A yacht anchored nearby provides a dressing room and bathroom with all the amenities guests would expect to find back at the hotel.