Almost Genius: In Jordan, A Gorgeous Resort That Tucks Into The Mountainside [Slideshow]

A “nominal impact” resort is slated to open in the rock formations of Jordan’s Wadi Rum in 2014. But is it really any better than the environmental monstrosities in other parts of the world?

We admit, we never understood the appeal of resorts that tower like fortresses over places of exquisite natural beauty, whether Hawaii or Cancun, and seem to exist solely to replicate the creature comforts of life in, say, Overland Park, Kansas, only with palm trees and free Mai Tais. They’re a middle finger to the environment — plus, they’re boring as hell.


But if we had to stay in a resort, we’d be tempted to hop on over to southern Jordan, where one of the prettiest, most inconspicuous (if questionably eco-friendly) vacation retreats we’ve ever seen is slated to rise.

The Wadi Rum Resort will cut into the mountainside when it opens in 2014, its lodgings and spas inserted almost invisibly into the natural faults and fissures of the land. Wadi Rum is a desolate stretch of Jordanian wilderness famous for its ancient rock formations (David Lean shot Lawrence of Arabia there), and the design, by Florida-based Oppenheim architecture + design, is conceived of to merge “silently with its wondrous setting.” Moreover, the architects say it’ll have “nominal impact” on the surroundings.

So aside from the rock rooms, where guests can pretend like they’re sleeping in the Bat Cave (but with a better view), the resort’s got a Bedouin-style tent village and assorted pools and hammams littered around the site, like oases sprung loose from the desert. But we have to wonder if the environmental impact here is as nominal as the architects suggest. Certainly, the Wadi Rum Resort is no Jumeirah Beach Hotel. But to judge by the renderings above, construction workers will have to slash up the rock something awful to make room for all those cavernous rooms. That’d be like carving a huge hole in the Grand Canyon — not worth it just to feel like Batman for a day.

[Images courtesy of Oppenheim architecture + design]


About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.