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The Red Sea Development Company unveils plans for Oppenheim-designed desert mountain resort and spa in Saudi Arabia

01 Oct 2021
The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), the developer behind the ambitious regenerative tourism project The Red Sea Project (TRSP) in Western Saudi Arabia, has revealed plans for the destination’s new mountain resort named Desert Rock.

Created by architectural design firm Oppenheim Architecture, Desert Rock is being designed to protect and preserve the environment and will allow guests to connect with the nature and local culture of the region.

The 60-key resort will feature state-of-the-art facilities, including a world-class spa and fitness centre, remote destination dining areas as well as a feature lagoon oasis.

“We wanted to create a destination that allows guests to experience Saudi Arabia’s untouched beauty,” explained John Pagano, CEO of TRSDC.

Guests will enter the resort through a hidden valley nestled between the mountains.

From there, they’ll 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 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 minimise sound and light pollution, allowing guests to fully absorb the dramatic desert landscape.

Guests will be able to hike, use dune buggies, and stargaze 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 honour and respect it.

“By utilising natural materials and integrating the resort into the rock, guests can connect physically with the destination and experience Saudi Arabia’s stunning, natural beauty.”

Site preparation works have commenced, and construction began in July 2021.

TRSP 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 – including Desert Rock – in total, will complete 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.


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