Luxury Living at the Bottom of the World

Luxury Living at the Bottom of the World

When former astronaut Buzz Aldrin was recently evacuated from Antarctica, most people probably assumed that he had been staying at some primitive campsite at the bottom of the world. Not so. Aldrin was a guest at White Desert, a luxury “glamping” site in Antarctica about 5.5 hours flight south of Capetown, South Africa.

The White Desert camp site, base of operations for the polar “adventures” that White Desert offers to guests, is a collection of fiberglass domes that, together, comprise a pretty nice hotel, probably the only one on this entire continent.

From the White Desert website:

The camp has an easy and friendly feel to it and is run along strict environmental guidelines. There are six state-of-the-art sleeping pods, designed for two people in each, which are heated and warm. They are quiet on windy days and at just over 6m (20ft) in diameter, they are also spacious, with a double bed (for couples), a writing desk, wash area and toilet. For guests travelling separately, the room can be partitioned. The rest of the camp comprises of a shower pod, kitchen pod and two custom-made tents. These are unique – fusing cutting edge material with an old-world feel and house the lounge and dining room. Here you can relax, enjoy the fantastic food from our award winning chef and take things easy. Our philosophy is simple – do as much or as little as you like. It’s your adventure.

The domes were designed by White Desert husband-and-wife founders, CEO Patrick Woodhead and COO Robyn Woodhead, and construction manager Ryan Ashworth. Interiors were designed by the Woodheads and Capetown design Sam Hendrick. The domes are unusual in the world of composite pods, made of panels that resemble fish-scales, rather than the usual top-to-bottom orange slices (gore sections).

At 20 in diameter, or 314 sf of area, the domes rival the size of an average US hotel room… very spacious, as polar domes go. The bedrooms include a bathroom with toilet and full shower. (Summer temperatures in the region reach -5ºC (-23ºF), so a bathroom in the room certainly makes it more like a hotel and less like camping.)

The site is open in November and December (Antarctic Summer). A one-night stay (including air travel from Capetown, meals, guides, and a carbon tax to offset all environment impacts) costs 9800 euros (about $10,350.) per person. An 8-night adventure that includes emperor penguins and a flight to the actual south Pole, costs 62,000 (about $65,450.) The resort is fully booked for the rest of this season.

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