America’s first glass-dome resort set to open near Bryce Canyon National Park

The hotel is inspired by the Panorama Glass Lodge in Iceland and Memories Aicha Luxury Camp in Jordan’s Wadi Rum.

Their upcoming resort in rugged Garfield County may be a first in America, but the developers don’t want anyone left in the dark about the tourist retreat’s star attraction: the night sky.

That’s why Hal Feinberg and Steven Mutsaers, co-creators of Clear Sky Resorts, are opening America’s first glass dome hotel on 80 secluded acres in Cannonville, just 15 miles southeast of Bryce Canyon in an area where dark skies help stargazers see the constellations in a whole new light.

“We want to give people a unique place to stay that they will never have experienced before,” Feinberg said about the Clear Sky Resorts Bryce Canyon, which will be opening this August.

An aquarium of stars

Inspired by the Panorama Glass Lodge in Iceland and Memories Aicha Luxury Camp in Jordan’s Wadi Rum, Clear Sky’s Bryce Canyon resort aims to combine the best elements of luxury outdoor camping, or glamping, and stays in opulent hotels.

(Clear Sky Resorts) A view of Clear Sky Resorts tents near Bryce Canyon National Park.

“This is literally like taking a four-and-a-half-star hotel room and dropping it in the [outdoors],” Feinberg said. “It will literally be like sleeping outside under the stars but in the comfort of a luxurious hotel room. You will be able to wake up during the night and look at an aquarium of stars through the windows, and the sunrises and sunsets will be just as amazing.”

Clear Sky’s Bryce Canyon resort will consist of 60 geodesic domes (or geodomes), which are structures constructed with interlocking hexagons or triangles that connect to form a strong and futuristic-looking half-sphere.

German engineer Walter Bauersfeld is credited with inventing the structure in the 1920s in his design for a planetarium that was perched atop an optic factory in Jena, Germany. A few decades later, American architect Buckminster Fuller patented and popularized geodome structures in the United States.

Not content to replicate past geodomes or the glass lodges in other countries, the developers believe their geodomes will take the concept to the next level. For starters, all the resort’s domes will have floor-to-ceiling, dual-pane “low E glass” windows coated with invisible metallic oxide that allows natural light in but deflects ultraviolet and infrared light.

Moreover, the “climate-controlled sky domes,” depending on their size, will accommodate two, four or as many as eight guests and feature luxury king-sized beds, linen and interior furniture. They also will come with privacy curtains and patios, kitchens equipped with microwaves and mini-refrigerators, opulent bathrooms and free Wi-Fi.

Disco nights and laser lights

Guests who want to fork out more — the prices will vary from $500 to $1,125 a night — can enjoy domes with two-bedroom suites, two bathrooms, a spiral staircase to access a loft, and a slide that guests can ride back to the ground floor. Pricier still are the domes that feature a dance floor, disco ball and laser lights, accompanying sound system and retro ‘70s furniture.

Lest that seem at odds with guests seeking solitude and stars undimmed by light pollution, the developers add that the sound-resistant domes are oriented and positioned far enough apart to ensure the activities at one don’t interfere with guests’ experience at another. Moreover, the disco becomes silent after 10 p.m., meaning revelers must don headphones to listen to the music.

“It’s not for everybody … ‚” Feinberg admitted. “It’s just a fun way to have something that you have never seen in a hotel room.”

(Clear Sky Resorts) A view of the sky from a Clear Sky Resorts tent near Bryce Canyon National Park.

If disco isn’t everyone’s proverbial cup of tea, the developers hope the food and drink with space-age names on the menu at their 3,000-square-foot glass dome restaurant — one of America’s largest — will be. Rounding out the resort’s amenities will be yoga lessons, stargazing tours, frisbee golf, cornhole and other golf games. There also are firepits where guests can gather each evening to swap stories and savor complimentary toasted marshmallow and chocolate s’more desserts.

In keeping with its otherworldly space and star ambiance, the resort will also have a projection dome where guests can watch movies projected at 360 degrees to provide them with an immersive, planetarium-like experience.

Still, Feinberg noted, the area’s dark skies are the resort’s signature attraction. Nearby Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef national parks and Kodachrome Basin State Park have been designated as International Dark Sky Parks by the International Dark-Sky Association. Dark skies are also prevalent over the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Scenic Byway 12.

Also captivating is the beauty of the area’s natural landscapes that guests can glimpse from the comfort of their domes.

“One one side there are beautiful red rocks that rival those in Sedona, Ariz.,” Feinberg said. “On the backside, there are beautiful white sandstone hoodoos.”

Tourism is a top-dollar concern

Clear Sky Resorts Bryce Canyon is a welcome sight for officials in Garfield County, which is heavily reliant on tourism dollars. In 2021, for example, more than 2.1 million tourists visited Bryce Canyon and spent about $195 million, which led to the creation of nearly 23,000 jobs, according to Headwaters Economics and the National Park Service.

(Clear Sky Resorts) A Clear Sky Resorts tent near Bryce Canyon National Park.

Falyn Owens, executive director of Garfield County Office of Tourism, noted about 70% of the county is tied to tourism. Last year, the county collected nearly $3 million in transient room taxes. All told, she noted, there are roughly 2,500 hotel rooms spread out over the county’s nearly 5,000 square miles and more are needed.

So the opening of a year-round attraction like Clear Sky Resorts Bryce Canyon, Owens added, is a “big deal,” especially as the county tries to encourage more visitors to stay longer than one or two days in the area.

“We are trying hard to get people to understand that [Garfield County] is a bucket list destination,” she said. “We are not just about national parks. We have so many other things to do.”

Luxury outdoor resorts are increasingly viewed as a great complement to traditional hotel stays. Glamping was a $2.35 billion global industry in 2021. The number of glamping resorts across the country soared from 91 in 2015 to 230 in 2022, according to the North American Glamping Report.

Clear Sky Resorts, which also has a non-glass sky dome resort near the Grand Canyon, is trying to locate resorts next to national parks to take advantage of the lack of development and dark skies in such areas and to acquaint visitors with nearby and less familiar attractions.

Jaden Wood, who enjoys hiking the Grand Staircase and Garfield County’s backcountry, said over-development and overcrowding is ruining Utah’s national parks.

(Clear Sky Resorts) A view of Clear Sky Resorts tents near Bryce Canyon National Park.

“Like a lot of locals, I don’t even hike Zion anymore,” the Hurricane resident says. “I worry that all these new resorts that are being developed will destroy what’s left of the wilderness experience in other areas of southern Utah.”

Feinberg said Clear Sky’s resort in Cannonville, much of which is nestled in a secluded canyon and is not visible from the town, will preserve the area’s wilderness characteristics.

“We really are trying to be respectful to the environment that surrounds us,” he said.

Editor’s note • This story is available to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers only. Thank you for supporting local journalism.