Complex Made Simple

Designs unveiled for Saudi Arabia’s captivating Desert Rock mountain resort

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A once-in-a-lifetime stay at The Red Sea Development Company’s luxury Desert Rock resort will offer stunning vistas and stargazing opportunities on the Kingdom’s west coast

Inspired by the beautiful surroundings, Desert Rock will feature 48 villas and 12 hotel suites A select number of rooms will sit within the excavated rock-scape, giving guests access to stunning views The destination includes a world-class spa and fitness center, as well as a feature lagoon

We often talk about immersive experiences in the context of virtual reality, but The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) in Saudi Arabia is taking the concept a step further by carving a luxury hotel into a rock mountain for its future guests to literally immerse themselves in.

Set in one of the most dramatic desert landscapes in the world, the Desert Rock resort is being integrated into the stunning mountainside and offers panoramic views of the mountain canyons below and a canopy of stars above.

As part of The Red Sea Project, TRSDC recently revealed a first look at Desert Rock’s designs, which are intended to celebrate Saudi Arabia’s spectacular natural beauty and Nabatean heritage. 

“Since the inception of the Desert Rock project, creating a development that combines luxury, sustainability and an immersive experience for our guests has been at the heart of it all,” said John Pagano, TRSDC CEO. “We cannot wait to welcome guests to enjoy a stay at this unique property.”

Inspired by the surrounding beautiful mountains, volcanoes, and wadis, Desert Rock will feature 48 villas and 12 hotel suites. A variety of accommodation styles will be available to best meet guests’ needs, from ground-level dwellings to crevice hotel suites midway up the mountain.

An impressive feat of engineering, a select number of rooms will sit within the excavated rock-scape, giving guests access to stunning views of Saudi Arabia and opportunities for stargazing, all from the comfort of your room.

The unique rock formations included in the resort architecture were produced by a series of cataclysmic seismic events thousands of years ago, and so the architecture has been designed to keep this natural beauty while also reducing energy consumption, supercharging the ecosystem, and regenerating native flora. This innovative architecture model offers guests a completely unique and unmatched form of luxury, combining nature and sustainability as one.

“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,” said Chad Oppenheim, Founder of Oppenheim Architecture, the design and planning firm behind the concept. “Our key intention when designing the resort was to build with the land, not on it, and to be mindful of the stunning nature elements that already exist at the site, amplifying its natural beauty.”

Guests will enter the resort through a hidden valley nestled between the mountains. Most roads leading into the resort will follow the edge of the main wadi, hidden behind landscape mounds, to provide uninterrupted views. This will also minimize sound and light pollution, allowing guests to fully absorb the surrounding dramatic desert landscape.

The resort features state-of-the-art facilities, including a world-class spa and fitness center, remote destination dining areas as well as a feature lagoon oasis.

Visitors will be able to hike with members of the local community who will provide educational tours of the area. Dune buggies will also be on hand to hire as part of the site-wide activities program, making it the idyllic holiday destination for those seeking adventure and relaxation alike.

TRSDC is championing the ancient history of the area, which is positioned at the crossroads of continents, connecting Asia, Africa, and Europe. For centuries, Saudi Arabia has been a meeting point for civilizations and a crossing point for caravans on the incense trade route carrying spices, myrrh, cotton, ebony, and silk.

The Nabateans – an ancient Arab people who inhabited northern Arabia and the southern Levant and who are perhaps best known for their rock-cut monumental tombs in Petra, Jordan – inhabited Saudi Arabia’s north-western region some 2,000 years ago and constructed their second-largest city there at Mada’in Salih, a few hours’ drive from Desert Rock.

The Desert Rock resort will be open for guests to visit as part of phase one of the Red Sea destination set to complete in 2023.

Desert Rock Destination Key Take-aways

Desert Rock will feature 48 villas and 12 hotel suites, a total of 60-keys with a select number excavated within the rock massif itself.

Where possible, materials used in the architecture are recycled from the site and have the same integral colors as the surrounding landscape to further immerse the architecture in its setting.

During daylight, the natural silhouette of Desert Rock and its respective shadows will prevail. At night, the glow of the architectural lighting from within the destination, not upon the rock will be visible to those passing by.

The destination includes a world-class spa and fitness center, as well as a feature lagoon.

Guests will be able to stargaze, hike and use dune buggies all on the Desert Rock site to explore nature and cultural heritage of the region.

About the Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC)

TRSDC is a closed joint-stock company wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia. TRSDC was established to drive the development of The Red Sea Project, a luxury, regenerative tourism destination that will set new standards in sustainable development and position Saudi Arabia on the global tourism map.

The project is being developed over 28,000 km2 of pristine lands and waters along Saudi Arabia’s west coast and includes a vast archipelago of more than 90 pristine islands. The destination also features sweeping desert dunes, mountain canyons, dormant volcanoes, and ancient cultural and heritage sites. It is designed to include hotels, residential properties, leisure, commercial and entertainment amenities, as well as supporting infrastructure that emphasizes renewable energy and water conservation and reuse, as well as a circular waste management system to achieve zero waste to landfill.

Activity for the first phase of development is well underway and is on track to be completed by the end of 2023. The project has surpassed significant milestones, with over 600 contracts signed to date, worth more than 17 bn Saudi Riyal ($4.5bn).

 The 100-hectare Landscape Nursery, which will provide more than 15 million plants for the destination, is now fully operational. There are more than 8,000 workers currently on-site and 80km of new roads are now complete. The Construction Village, set to house 10,000 workers, is now open and development is progressing well at the Coastal Village, which will be home to around 14,000 people who will eventually work at the destination.