The Spectacular Desert Rock Mountain Resort
Desert Rock will integrate architecture with nature as hotel and facilities will be built into the stunning Saudi mountain landscape
In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), the developer behind the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism project, The Red Sea Project (TRSP), has revealed design plans for its new mountain resort named Desert Rock in the beautiful wadi vistas in the west of the country. (In some Arabic-speaking countries, a wadi is a valley, ravine, or channel that is dry except in the rainy season.)
Created by the world-class architectural design firm, Oppenheim Architecture, Desert Rock is designed to protect and preserve the environment and will allow guests to connect with the nature and local culture of the region.
“We wanted to create a destination that allows guests to experience Saudi Arabia’s untouched beauty. Desert Rock will provide guests with uninterrupted spectacular views while preserving the natural landscape for future generations to enjoy,” said John Pagano, CEO at TRSDC. “We have drawn inspiration from the surrounding environment, while providing unparalleled luxury, allowing guests to connect with nature and create memorable experiences.”
Integrating architecture with nature
Guests will enter the resort through a hidden valley nestled between the mountains. From there, they will find 48 villas and 12 hotel rooms within the mountain, located amongst the vista, with architecture fully integrated into the rock to preserve its striking silhouette, a tribute to Oppenheim Architecture’s philosophy to build with the land, not on the land.
A range of accommodation will be available, from ground level dwellings to crevice hotel suites midway up the mountain, and a select number of excavated rooms within the rock massif itself. To provide undisrupted views across the landscape, most roads leading into the resort will be pushed to the edge of the main wadi and hidden behind landscape mounds. This will also minimize sound and light pollution, allowing guests to fully absorb the dramatic desert landscape.
Unique resort experience
The resort will feature state-of-the-art facilities, including a world-class spa and fitness center, remote destination dining areas as well as a feature lagoon oasis. Guests will be able to hike, use dune buggies, and star gaze as part of the site-wide activities program. The project also aims to maintain the ancient history of the site by hiring members of the local community to act as stewards of the land and provide educational tours for visitors about the local history of the area.
As part of TRSDC’s commitment to regenerative tourism, Desert Rock will be designed to achieve the highest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification level.
The architecture has been designed to reduce energy consumption and regenerate native flora. Water retention and distribution systems will be used throughout the site, with harvested rainwater used to create a more green, flourishing wadi. Alongside this, materials excavated from the site will be used to create the infrastructure. Stone will be used for interior and exterior walls and floors, while ground stone and existing sand will be used for concrete aggregate, which is the main building material for all the architecture.
Chad Oppenheim, Founder of Oppenheim Architecture, said: “Desert Rock is one of the most dramatic desert landscapes in the world, which is why we wanted to use the architecture as a way to honor and respect it. By utilizing natural materials and integrating the resort into the rock, guests can connect physically with the destination and experience Saudi Arabia’s stunning, natural beauty.”
Breaking new ground
Site preparation works have commenced, and construction began in July 2021. The Red Sea Project has already passed significant milestones on the destination and work is on track to welcome the first guests by the end of 2022, when the first hotels will open. Phase One, which includes 16 hotels in total, will be completed by 2023.
Upon completion in 2030, the destination will comprise 50 resorts, offering up to 8,000 hotel rooms and more than 1,000 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites. The destination will also include luxury marinas, golf courses, entertainment, leisure facilities and an international airport.
The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC – www.theredsea.sa) is wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia.
The project is being developed over 11,000 square miles of pristine lands and waters along the country’s west coast and includes a vast archipelago of more than 90 pristine islands. It features sweeping desert dunes, mountain canyons, dormant volcanoes, and ancient cultural and heritage sites, and 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 re-use, and a circular waste management system to achieve zero waste to landfill.
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, including the new airport road, to better connect the destination. 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.