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Escapes Amongst the Sands: Booking.com Shares Top Desert Stays to Immerse Travelers in the World of the Upcoming Sci-fi Sequel

The highly anticipated sequel to the epic sci-fi desert movie of 2021 hit movie screens worldwide on March 1. The fantasy fiction picks up where it left off, showcasing a mix of power, revenge and love as the characters battle in a desert planet to prevent a terrible future. The second installation was filmed in the desert lands surrounding Abu Dhabi and Jordan, both renowned for their undulating sand dunes. With over half (57%)* of travelers wanting to embrace ‘main character energy’ in 2024, where better to immerse in the world of this sci-fi sequel than in the desert? With that in mind, Booking.com, one of the world’s leading digital travel companies, reveals some of some of the best desert stays that will transport guests into another dimension. 

Al Wathba, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & SpaAbu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Surrounded by an endless sea of rolling dunes, this five-star resort is located deep within the Al Wathba desert, near where the blockbuster and sequel were filmed. The traditional-style earthen buildings feature Islamic-style rugs and twinkling lanterns, and villas boast a sunbathing gazebo and plunge pool. Soothing water features dotted around take the edge off the scorching heat, and the spa boasts salt rooms, a traditional Turkish hammam and an extraordinary snow cave along with rituals and remedies inspired by local ingredients. Guests can enjoy a cocktail at the hotel’s rooftop bar best paired with a magnificent fiery desert sunset, or head to one of the restaurants serving both traditional and international cuisine. A wide variety of desert activities are available from the resort, including four-wheel adventures, or the magnificent Al Wathba Wetlands, home to thousands of flamingos, and is just a short drive away. For those keen to zip across the Arabian sand dunes, a Premium Red Dunes Safari with BBQ is packed with dune bashing and sandboarding, before a spectacular authentic belly dancing show. 

Wadi Rum Secrets CampWadi Rum, Jordan

Situated at the western edge of the Arabian desert, it's no wonder the jagged rock formations of Wadi Rum were a prime filming spot for the sci-fi sequel. Known as the Valley of the Moon, this UNESCO World Heritage valley cut into sandstone and granite in southern Jordan stands among waves of shimmering sand dunes. Travelers can bed down at the Wadi Rum Secrets Camp which offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience to immerse in this otherworldly landscape, and a standout spot for sleeping under the stars. This traditional campsite is packed with facilities to improve the comfort and joy of the experience, from tents that boast terraces facing the mountains to barbecue facilities and a relaxing communal garden. Cabin-style tents are positioned on the sand and feature soft bedding and thick blankets to keep guests warm at night, while welcoming local Bedouin guides will help arrange activities from sand surfing to camel riding. If guests want to get to know the desert better, a 4-Hour Jeep Tour - Wadi Rum Desert Highlights is the perfect excursion to immerse in the sand-dune surroundings, from incredible panoramic views at the highest dune to the magnificent red rock Khazali gorge. 

Planeta Atacama LodgeSan Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Experience a magical setting at the Planeta Atacama Lodge in northeast Chile, situated in the middle of the Atacama desert, known as the driest place on Earth. As remote as it gets in Chile, this lodge is located on a plot of 10 acres (four hectares) at the foot of a forest of carob trees and an ideal spot to relax after exploring the wonders of the desert and its rolling sand dunes. Each lodge features native and rustic interiors with comfortable furnishings and a private bathroom, and the tranquil garden is adorned with hammocks. Guests can wake up to views of the Licancabur volcano, and go to bed under some of the brightest stars in the world. It’s just a short walk from the lodge into the historic town of San Pedro de Atacama, set on an arid plateau in the Andes mountains with dramatic landscape featuring salt flats, volcanoes, geysers and hot springs and visitors will spot plenty of grazing lambs and llamas. The sci-fi hit may not have been filmed in the Atacama desert, but a Valley of the Moon in Atacama excursion through the Los Flamencos National Reserve will transport travelers to an otherworldly landscape populated with incredible undulating sand dunes and old Chilean salt mines. 

Anantara Sahara-Tozeur Resort & VillasTozeur, Tunisia

Nestled amongst the mystical dunes of the Sahara desert, the five-star Anantara Sahara-Tozeur Resort invites travelers to a remote sanctuary built in the sand on the edge of the vast Chott el Jerid salt lake. This desert-chic resort offers villas dotted amidst swaying palms and hibiscus, three swimming pools, a bar and a library. Traditional charm and modern comfort blend, with meticulously designed suites adorned with brass lamps, organic pottery and local paintings. Guests can wake up to desert sunrises, enjoy poolside bliss or a hammam at the shaded spa and dine under the stars in Berber style. Just a short drive away from the center of Tozeur, a beautiful oasis town peppered with pomegranate trees and banana groves, where guests can immerse themselves in the rich culture of Tunisia through curated experiences which the hotel offers with local guides, such as visits to the ancient medinas, or star-gazing under the vast desert sky. For more action, a Tamerza, Chebika, Mides Canyons and Star Wars Locations Day Tour will take visitors to these oases to discover waterfalls and rivulets in a landscape of mountains, and the real-life filming locations behind this intergalactic epic. 

Home2 Suites By Hilton Alamogordo White SandsAlamogordo, New Mexico, United States

Fans of the sci-fi sequel will be extremely satisfied with this stay, which is located near the ethereal dunes of the Tularosa Basin in New Mexico. Nestled amongst the dramatic landscape of the Chihuahuan desert, this hotel offers guests the ultimate in comfort with each thoughtfully designed suite complete with modern amenities and stylish furnishings. From the moment guests step into the lobby of this inviting Booking.com Travel Proud property, the warmth of hospitality from staff provides a home-away-from-home feel. Guests can take advantage of a host of amenities including a well-equipped fitness center, a refreshing outdoor pool and a sun terrace. For those traveling with furry companions, pet-friendly accommodation is available too. Conveniently located, it’s just a short drive from the New Mexico Museum of Space History and the magnificent White Sands National Monument, the largest gypsum dune field in the world covering 275 sq miles (442 sq km) and surrounded by the Sacramento mountains. It’s highly recommended that travelers time a visit to these dunes with sunrise or sunset when the bright white sea of sand is at its most magical. 

*Travel Predictions 2024 research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who plan to travel for business or leisure in the next 12-24 months. In total, 27,730 respondents across 33 countries and territories were polled (including 1008 from Argentina, 1012 from Australia, 505 from Austria, 1001 from Belgium, 1002 from Brazil, 1009 from Canada, 1009 from China, 1002 from Colombia, 508 from Croatia, 504 from Denmark, 1011 from France, 1011 from Germany, 1016 from Hong Kong, 1004 from India, 510 from Ireland, 504 from Israel, 1014 from Italy, 1004 from Japan, 1009 from Mexico, 1014 from The Netherlands, 1015 from New Zealand, 500 from Portugal, 502 from Singapore, 1010 from South Korea, 1009 from Spain, 502 from Sweden, 507 from Switzerland, 504 from Taiwan, 1003 from Thailand, 502 from the UAE, 1007 from the UK, 1005 from the US and 1007 from Vietnam). Respondents completed an online survey in July 2023.