It’s the world’s hottest place, a sprawling desertscape cupped between lofty mountain ranges. Even its name is foreboding – Death Valley. So why would anyone want to go to this hell on earth?
The answer is that not only is it an amazing place to visit, but there are also some great hotels here too.
In the heart of California’s Death Valley national park is The Oasis at Death Valley, which has just received a $100 million investment.
Comprising two hotels set below the Funeral Mountains, it was formerly called Furnace Creek Resort after its location, which holds the record for the world’s highest-ever temperature – a searing 57°C in 1913.
Originally a 1930s working ranch built in a desert oasis, The Ranch is a 224-room, family-friendly hotel with a Western feel.
Its main building includes The Last Kind Words Saloon, complete with cowboy-style swinging doors.
Plus there’s a kids’ playground, an outdoor pool fed by hot springs, tennis courts, horse-riding and carriage tours, and the lowest golf course in the world, at 65 metres (214 feet) below sea level.
I stayed at 1920s-era The Inn at Death Valley. A sumptuous, elegant 88-room hideaway, it has welcomed Hollywood legends including Clark Gable, John Wayne and Marlon Brando (whose ashes are partly scattered there).
Gazing at real stars is a popular activity too, as Death Valley is a gold-tier International Dark Sky Park.
The main Death Valley sights are close by and the national park’s Furnace Creek Visitor Centre is alongside The Ranch.
Attractions include Badwater Basin, North America’s lowest point at 86 metres (282 feet) below sea level; Artist’s Drive, a nine-mile scenic loop through multi-hued hills; and mountaintop Dante’s View with spectacular vistas over Death Valley. There are also abandoned mines and ghost towns to visit.
“The Europeans think it is a badge of honour to be in Death Valley during the very hot temperatures”
Kerry Kuhl, director of sales at The Oasis,said the UK was in its top five markets, adding: “The British enjoy springtime and summer. The Europeans think it is a badge of honour to be in Death Valley during the very hot temperatures.”
Guests I met were surprised by how much there was to do, the most common comment being “it’s so beautiful”.
So be sure to tell your clients to go to hell – they’ll love it!
Getting there: Death Valley is two hours by road from Las Vegas and five hours from Los Angeles.
When to visit: Summers are fiercely hot, with winter and spring more temperate (average temperatures in March are 28°C).
Time difference: GMT -8 hours.
Safety: Tell clients to avoid hiking after 10am, or taking cars other than 4x4s on unmade roads.