Fox Browne Creative gives andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge a sustainable facelift
Intrepid explorers of Namibia’s wildly beautiful landscape rave about the Namib Desert, a coastal sweep of rocky plains, muscular ridges, ocre wind-rippled sand dunes and endless horizons.
In the middle of this, is andBeyond Sossuvlei Desert Lodge. Opened two decades ago, the hotel has just emerged from a top-to-toe overhaul, designed by Jack Alexander of Johannesburg-based Fox Browne Creative to slot right into its spectacular backdrop of craggy granite and limestone mountains and vast rock-strewn flats, fractured by a network of dry riverbeds and studded with low-lying Camel Thorn trees.
The result is a refreshed, more sustainable version of its former self, the original footprint still nudged against the Nubib Mountains, but now with top environmental technology that means each suite is almost completely self-powered. Re-working original elements, such as the rocks used to construct the rear walls of the pavilions, the architects have fashioned – from responsibly sourced materials like stone, sand, steel and glass – a sleek, understated series of 10 open-plan suites, and a new two-bedroom Star Dune Suite, with private pools, butler hatches, outdoor showers, skylights for in-bed stargazing, and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that frame those otherworldly views.
The minimal desert-chic interiors, meanwhile, take their cues from the sparse, dusty landscape with understated sandy hues revealed through natural materials like wool and sisal rugs, basketware accessories, bespoke timber, leather and linen furnishings and details like the Clay Pod pendant light inspired by the region’s weaverbird’s nests.
Taking centre-stage, the main guest hub is now a geometric showpiece, with a sharp perforated rusted steel roof that sheds dappled light onto the sweeping open-plan space, which is anchored by an angular grey granite island bar- incidentally the best spot for a preprandial gin & tonic followed by supper on the terrace as the pastel wash of the setting sun, fades from the sky.
Diversions are, of course, focused on the incredible surroundings, from climbing the magnificent dunes in Sossusvlei to quad biking, hiking or pedalling on e-bikes through the desert. For the more indolent, there’s hot air ballooning, stargazing sessions, helicopter rides, desert drives, an onsite spa, and of course, your private pool from where to cool off while watching the oryxes and zebras meander past the lodge against the spectacular desert scenery.§