The Tucson Mountain Retreat is located within the Sonoran Desert; an extremely lush, exposed, arid expanse of land that emits a sense of stillness and permanency, and holds mysteries of magical proportions. Designed by architecture studio DUST, the 3,640 square foot home is carefully sited in response to the adjacent arroyos, rock out-croppings, ancient cacti, animal migration paths, air movement, sun exposure and views. Great effort was invested to minimize the physical impact of the home in such a fragile environment, while at the same time attempting to create a place that would serve as a backdrop to life and strengthen the sacred connections to the awe-inspiring mystical landscape.
Intentionally isolating the parking over 400 feet from the house, one must traverse and engage the desert by walking along a narrow footpath toward the house, passing through a dense clustered area of cacti and Palo Verde that obscure direct views of the home Upon each progressive footstep, the house slowly reveals itself, rising out of the ground. The entry sequence, a series of playfully engaging concrete steps, dissolves into the desert. As one ascends, each step offers an alternative decision and a new adventure. Through this process, movement slows and senses are stimulated, leaving the rush of city life behind. The home is primarily made of Rammed Earth, a material that uses widely available soil, provides desirable thermal mass and has virtually no adverse environmental side effects. Historically vernacular to arid regions, it fits well within the Sonoran Desert, while at the same time it embodies inherent poetic qualities that engage the visual, tactile and auditory senses of all who experience it.
The program of the home is divided into three distinct and isolated zones; living, sleeping, and music recording/home entertainment. Each zone must be accessed by leaving the occupied zone, stepping outside, and entering a different space. This separation resolves the clients’ desired acoustic separation while at the same time, offers a unique opportunity to continuously experience the raw desert landscape.
Rooted in the desert, where water is always scarce, the design incorporates a generous 30,000 gallon rainwater harvesting system with an advanced filtration system that makes our most precious resource available for all household uses.
Photographs: Jeff Goldberg/Esto
Dolphin Island Hotel is a private island retreat situated on the tip of Viti Levu, Fiji, nestled like a precious jewel, surrounded by crystal-clear waters. With tropical modern interiors by stylist Virginia Fisher, it boasts just four elegant rooms, a gorgeous entertaining bure, a romantic sleep-out boudoir and a 13-acre playground of gardens and beaches. Offshore, aquatic adventures beckon, including top-notch diving, snorkeling and sailing.
The main bure is the hub of rest, relaxation and fun with a series of poolside areas perfectly designated for time spent lying on day beds (either pre or post a dip in the infinity pool), or for alfresco dining. Casual groups of plantation-style chairs and soft feather-filled sofas beckon, as one day draws seamlessly into the next. As the last rays of the sun catch on the tips of the palm trees and sink into the ocean, the open veranda, with its banks of bi-fold doors offers the perfect venue for a tropical cocktail or a glass or two of chilled wine.
The guest bure suites are perfect for a tropical lifestyle – featuring heart timber floors, plaster walls, stone tiles, wooden shutters, high ceilings and the latest in air conditioned comfort. Fine pure cotton bed linen and soft feather pillows are perfectly suited to the climate and The Huka Retreats famed attention to detail is strongly evident within this haven of relaxation and romance.
The dressing rooms are large and generous and these are further complemented by well-appointed bathrooms, twin hand basins, shower, sculptural free-standing bath and outdoor shower, within a private garden courtyard.
For total romance, guests can take an easy stroll to the top of the island where the hilltop sleep-out bure awaits. This utterly divine, thatched open-air bedroom is rustic and refined, perfect for an overnight stay!
Bug Acres of Woodstock is a newly constructed home in upstate New York, designed by CWB Architects to replace an existing weekend retreat within the same site. The goal for the new 2,700 square foot house was to blend with the surrounding landscape while amplifying the owner’s visual and auditory experience of the landscape from interior spaces. The “horizontal” window in the living room focuses ones view down through the lawn and towards the natural wetlands. The “vertical” window draws one’s eye to a rock outcropping across a stream. The all cedar screened porch opens towards the same rock outcropping and is cantilevered over the steam, truly well suited for daydreaming.
Photos: Rachael L. Stollar
Lake Michigan Residence is a multi-generational destination retreat designed by Deep River Partners, nestled into the dunes on the shoreline of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The modern rustic styling boasts panoramic views through the expansive rhythm of windows. The home has been divided into public and private zones adjacent to the axial three story atrium that traverses the interior. A calming water feature flows from a locally obtained boulder at the foyer through the Atrium, drawing one to the beach and lake beyond.
Amenities for all ages are plentiful in this accessible vacation home. Multiple master suites, family living suites, an open main kitchen, and large dining spaces make it ideal for multiple families to gather and relax. The beach changing and spa area are complete with a workout and steam room that support an active lifestyle while a movie theater, game room, and multiple conversation areas provide the ultimate entertainment atmosphere after a day on the beach.
Photos: Joe DeMaio
Villa Mandarina is a stunning home set along the Costa del Sol in the south of Spain, taking advantage of an incredible location to create a delightful retreat. The charming home features clean lines and crisp white interiors, adding brightness to the space. Warm and welcoming interiors offer an infusion of elements, objects and textures, creating a tranquil environment. The outdoor patio offers stunning coastal views and cozy sitting areas along with a fabulous swimming pool.
Images: Courtesy of Masfotogenica
Tucked away in the Tuscan hillside not far from the cultural centers of Florence and Siena, Borgo Santo Pietro is a luxurious thirteenth century private retreat set within 13 acres of enchanting gardens. A resting place for pilgrims en route to Rome 800 years ago, this ancient site continues to provide sanctuary to its guests today. Elegant and sympathetically designed interiors and grounds provide the perfect setting to experience sheer indulgence.
All of the rooms are unique and have been created to reflect authentic luxurious Italian style that gives the guests the sense of staying at an exclusive, ancient country villa. With fifteen guest room, eight of which are suites, each room provides a sitting area and a view to remember. The extensive grounds at Borgo Santo Pietro include an orchard, organic fruits and vegetable garden, tranquil lawns and a beautiful pool as well as a tennis court, basketball court and a bocce pitch for the more active guests. A playground is set away from the peaceful seclusion of the garden.
Innovative, world class cuisine created from the villa’s private organic gardens, a velar of fine international and Italian wines, spa treatments, impeccable service and passionate attention to details are set in a refreshingly relaxed and intimate environment. Borgo Santo Pietro offers ultimate quality with the personal touch for truly exclusive escape in the breathtaking surroundings of Tuscany.
Prices for guest rooms range from $488.79 – $1,166.58 per night, from here.
Sheltering amidst the snow-laded pines, Chalet Gentianes is one of the most sought-after luxury ski chalets in Courchevel 1850, France. This is a ski in and out chic mountain retreat with only a five minute walk away from the buzz of Courchevel. Don’t ski past the turning for your private pathway through the trees as you head down the Bellecote piste, or you’ll have to do the run again.
The chalet has been built in a sympathetic alpine style with wood interiors, beautiful aged oak beams and a huge open fireplace and elegant decor. From the deep sofas, squashy sheepskin stools, large dining table with the finest glassware and china, everything in this property has a feeling of understated class. At the basement level, you will find a private swimming pool, Jacuzzi and steam room, a self-contained gym and a massage room.
As you head upstairs and prepare to discover the private cinema and games room, the sumptuous en-suite bedrooms and spectacular top floor living area. Look out for those special little touches such as fresh flowers and luxury toiletries in the bathrooms as you go, the chalet even has a lift.
Now all of this would be impressive enough, but there’s more. Staying at Chalet Gentianes is like being wrapped in a blanket of love. A team of people attends to your every need, from the highly qualified chef to the chauffeur and minibus at your disposal. Not forgetting the dedicated private ski instructor and the near-constant attention of housekeepers. There’s even a concierge service to fulfill your every whim.
Prices start from 2,095 per person for 7 nights with fully catered services, from here.
Villa Sapi was designed and concepted as a family and friends vacation retreat by Canadian designer David Lombardi on Lombok Island, Indonesia. Secluded on a 3 hectare beachfront property, the villa is nestled in and amongst hundreds of original coconut and palm trees. Lombardi’s bauhaus philosophy of “Function Over Form” are evident in his design approach, always leaving the viewer with a sense of discovery and surprise as the journey through their home. The villa is comprised of two modern freestanding buildings, surrounded by decorative fishponds and gardens flowing all the way down to a pristine white beach.
The main house acts as a sort of vortex, it’s a place to gather, to chill out and enjoy friends and family, but above all it’s a place to explore. The guesthouse is a wonderful modern Inner Sanctum. Independent and uniquely isolated from the main villa, it gives your guests the freedom and independence from others if they so desire.
Although contemporary in architectural style and amenities, Villa Sapi has included some traditional elements such as the various bales (Indonesian huts) sprinkled around the estate, giving each guest the possibility to relax in perfect harmony with nature. The use of wood for the roof, lava stone, sand stone, coconut and bamboos, all reflect Lombardi’s unique vision and his commitment to the use of local materials. Furnishings carry a signature color theme of black, red and lime green, while the walls are adorned with flair – bamboo, water cascades and conceptual artwork. The first clue to the quirky nature of the artwork is a white sculpture in the coconut grove garden which, in huge black letters, suggests that we should ‘Stop Making Sense.
Wish to stay at Villa Sapi? Rates range from $800 – $1,195 per night, from here.
The view from the villa’s open-sided living and dining room, bedrooms and bathrooms is unrivalled; here guests can look forward to a vista that is ever-changing with the moods of the sea, sky, neighboring islands, distant mountains, forests and colorful fishing boats. At night, after a magnificent sunset, the views become even more magical as the moon’s reflection twinkles on the water, presenting a scene of tranquility and unforgettable beauty.
Located in picturesque Martis Camp in Truckee, California this second home for a young family is easy, comfortable and fun. Designed by Jeffers Design Group on conjunction with Walton Architecture, this mountain retreat is infused with a great mixture of industrial chic, while warm blankets redefines rustic. No antler chandeliers here! A soft palette of textures and hues mixed with wood flooring adds warmth to this cozy vacation home. Bunk beds in the children’s room save space, creating a fun and playful environment. Large expanses of windows allow the inhabitants incredible views of the beautiful landscape and mountains of Lake Tahoe in the distance.
Photos: Matthew Millman
Berge Lodge is the ultimate mountain retreat, situated at the foot of the Bavarian Alps, in Bavaria, Germany. Despite the fact that Berge (which means mountains) offers nothing in the way of a reception area, service, internet, telephone, television, breakfast or restaurant, Elle Decoration named it “the most beautiful lodge in the mountains”.
A few years ago German furniture designer Nils Holger Moorman invested in property across the street from his studio, planning on using it for storage and as a logistics center. He was met with a fair amount of opposition from the locals and as a result, planning permission was refused and Nils had to come up with an alternative solution or go bankrupt. The building dates back to 1671, previously used as a court bakery, guesthouse and youth hostel, before being abandoned and left to deteriorate. Nils came up with a new proposal to turn the building into a lodge that would be in contrast to the surrounding lodges. What you see is what you get at Nils’s lodge, innovative design, an invitation to be self-sufficient and a genuine opportunity to experience complete relaxation surrounded by nature. “You can have a five-course meal. If you cook it yourself!” states the website.
There are 16 individually designed apartments, all with names related to the mountains or the locality. The entrance corridor into the lodge is reminiscent of a minor medieval church: plain, uneven white walls traversed by numerous vault-like arches. Exposed red brickwork adds to the rustic appearance. The guest rooms have a kitchen area, a bedroom on a second floor above the bathroom, which is accessed by a metal ladder. There are no wardrobes, just coat hangers that dangle from an old ladder, and a small wooden table with benches. The guest spaces have all been rehabbed and decked out in his signature, pared-down contemporary aesthetic, with meticulous detail–from wide alpine-slat floors and custom furniture to door handles crafted by a local blacksmith and bowls made by a local woodworker. “There are so many little details that together form a language,” says Nils.
Prices range from $156 – $338 per night with a $40 surcharge for a one-night stay. There is an additional spacious kitchen to share amongst (where you can line up cooking classes), bikes and more than 1,000 books to choose from in the TV-free space. More information from here.