American West: Where to Stay: Most Indulgent: Amangiri
Vibe: Serene, minimalist-chic interiors and stunning views.
At a Glance: Surrounded by one hundred acres of sand-hued canyons, Amangiri is a perfect place for a weekend of hiking, spa treatments and relaxation in southern Utah.
Review: Adrian Zecha fell in love with a boulder: a gnarled, beige behemoth that jutted into an expansive landscape littered with hoodoos (sandstone towers) and flecked with verdant desert greenery. The founder of Aman Resorts pictured a pool wrapped around this rock. Never mind that it was located on government lands, that the purchase of the surrounding 100 acres took ten years, a special permission from congress and a signature from then-president George W. Bush. In the end, Zecha got what he dreamed: a spectacular U-shaped pool hugging his rock and an even more spectacular resort wrapped around both.
Amangiri (meaning peaceful mountain) is located in southeastern Utah, near the border of Arizona, close to the famous Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument. Comprised of low-rising, squat buildings that look like the ultimate James Bond hideaway, the resort mimics the sand-hued color of the surrounding canyons, blending seamlessly into the magnificent surroundings. Walk five minutes in any given direction and the resort disappears entirely.
A central pavilion holds the all-day restaurant, swimming pool and lounging deck, as well as a living room, cellar, library and gallery filled with works by local artists. The 34 rooms are located in two wings, and all are located on the ground floor and feature floor-to-ceiling windows, natural stone floors, desert tones and simple but comfortable furnishings. The king-sized stone beds with deep mattresses are all positioned to take full advantage of the breathtaking views, and each room has a spacious dressing room, twin head shower and deep soaking tubs. (Six of the suites come with small plunge pools.) In true Aman fashion, the rooms are minimalist and understated, making special touches feel even more luxurious: a soft, white woven throw for cool desert nights; an ethanol fireplace on the outdoor patio; accordion windows that fold up and allow the living quarters to spill into the landscapes; a bathtub positioned in a window looking across the expanses.
As inviting as the rooms are, chances are that guests will spend most of their days in the great outdoors that beckon just outside the window and the resort. Amangiri has several (light) hikes on-property, including some more challenging Via Ferrata ones. It’s a great place for travelers finding their hiking legs before more strenuous excursions into the Four Corners region of the American Southwest. The Hoodoo Trail ends up atop a sandstone with sweeping aerial views, while the Cave Trail culminates in a spacious cavern with age-old petroglyphs.
Most guests who stay more than a night or two will want to explore off-property, however. Amangiri is positioned in the middle of the so-called ‘grand circle,’ and the area’s most famous attractions including the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce and Zion National Parks and Lake Powell. Those who drive to the Aman with a rental car will be the most independent, although the resort also offers complimentary BMWs on a four-hour basis (many of the more desirable locations, including the Grand Canyon’s North Rim and Zion are lengthier distances, however). The terrific staff, headed by a motivated Activities Director, can help organize everything from guided hikes in the National Parks to myriad water sports on Lake Powell. Another highlight is hot air ballooning in the area or taking a helicopter tour across the Grand Canyon. In short, active types will not want for choices.
Back on property, the serious 25,000 square-foot spa also beckons, with its water pavilion with hydrotherapy rooms, a watsu pool offering water shiatsu, single and double treatment rooms plus two outdoor treatment terraces. Complimentary yoga and Pilates classes are offered twice a day, the fitness studio overlooks the desert and a personal trainer is available. In the afternoon, the light on the pool is at its most magical and many guests stretch hiking legs out on one of the loungers surrounding the limpid blue water as Adrian Zecha’s boulder looks on—serene, beautiful and, perhaps, more than a little bit pleased to be the centerpiece of this very special place.
Who Should Go: Amangiri is great for families and couples; the vibe is serene and quiet but the property is large enough that people with kids will feel as comfortable as adults. The only people who might be disappointed are extreme sportsmen who want a challenging mountain when they roll out of bed.
Getting There: The closest airport is Arizona’s Page, about a 30-minute drive from the property (it can also accommodate private jets). The drive from Las Vegas takes about four scenic hours and can be combined with touring Bryce and Zion National Parks, as well as the Grand Canyon (read a members postcard about her road trip).
Rooms to Get: The 34 accommodations are split between mesa- and desert-view rooms/suites. Those planning on several spa treatments should request a mesa-view, as this wing is located on the spa side (while those on the desert-view side have to shuffle through the main pavilion in their bathrobes).
Indagare Tip: Don’t be shocked by the alcohol prices at Amangiri. Utah is a semi-dry state with tons of “interesting” liquor laws, and as the new kid on the block, the resort is under a lot of scrutiny and has to follow them all. This means, there is no alcohol in the rooms; only beer served after midnight; and only 5 ounce pours are allowed. A word to the wise: order a bottle of wine with dinner; a 5-ounce pour of Pinot Noir at $22 is a tough one to swallow.
- The glam swimming pool wrapped around a massive boulder.
- The stylish rooms and suites, all with uninterrupted views of the canyon landscapes.
- The serene spa.
- The Hoodoo Trail that ends up atop a sandstone with sweeping views of the area.