Major hotel chains are in a rush to open hotels in the remotest locations of the world...
Once, peripheral destinations and distant urban centers were the domain of ultra-luxurious resorts. Now, the world's largest hotel brands are trying to make their way, attempting to attract a new kind of tourist who has grown weary of private pools, penthouse suites, and incredibly luxurious butlers ready to cater to their every need. For those who have seen and experienced much, the latest and most exclusive luxury is an address in a place situated in the middle of nowhere.
In response, the world's largest hotel groups are eager to join the action, building where you would least expect them, at the very ends of the earth.
Take, for example, the Moxy Tromsø hotel (only $150 per night), which opened in June over 320 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. It is the northernmost hotel in the entire Marriott Bonvoy; no small feat in a group that encompasses more than 8,000 properties. "The expansion of the Moxy brand is not about being everywhere, in every market, but is based on finding the right destinations that help us pay homage to the playful spirit of the brand," says Brian Jaymont, Global Brand Leader for Aloft Hotels and Moxy Hotels.
But nobody comes here—to the geographical latitude above 69 degrees north—to stay in an economy hotel. Instead, the hotel serves as a gateway to two seasons of exploration. In the summer, travelers enjoy the midnight sun that never sets. In winter, everything revolves around hunting for the Northern Lights—visible from the hotel's Sky Bar balcony. A glass of aquavit by the fire will be waiting for you inside when you're ready to warm up and enjoy the 'hygge' atmosphere.
"When travelers explore a new destination—especially one that is a bit off the beaten path—they want to stay in a hotel they can trust," says Jaymont, noting that new destinations in the coming years range from Auckland to Zanzibar.
Marriott Bonvoy is particularly breaking into areas that were previously the domain of ultra-exclusive, private resorts. In April, the JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge debuted in Kenya ($1,450 per night, all-inclusive), and the new JW Marriott Serengeti Lodge in Tanzania is set to open in 2026.
Hyatt is also going where hotel chains have not gone before. Its Unbound Collection stands behind the Commune By The Great Wall hotel ($177 per night), opened in 2021 in rural Beijing. It is connected by a private path to an unrestored section of the Great Wall of China. It's the type of experience that travelers bring home and becomes a cherished memory.
"For Unbound Collection, it's all about the story; that's the beauty of this brand," says Katie Johnson, Global Head of the Independent Collection for Hyatt. "These are unique, curated experiences that are unlike anything else."
When the Great Wall of China is simply too crowded for you, consider visiting deep into the interior of northwest China with a stay at the Conrad Urumqi ($129 per night). This luxury brand in the Hilton family takes travelers to the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region with this property, opened in 2021.
Sometimes, off-the-beaten-path destinations are even hidden within parts of the world you might otherwise be familiar with. While the Caribbean is no secret, how many people, unlike the Caribbean, go to the island of Roatán, off the coast of Honduras? Add your name to the list by checking into the Kimpton Grand Roatán Resort + Spa ($329 per night). The 119-room property in the IHG Hotels & Resorts portfolio opened this October on West Bay Beach. The hotel sets visitors on the edge of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest in the world, and all the wonderful diving and water activities it offers.
Now that it's easier than ever to go where you've never been, there's only one thing left to do: brag about having arrived there before your friends.