Tucked away among the ancient red rocks near Utah’s state line with Arizona is a wild, sultry and swanky retreat, the type of immersive setting and jaw-dropping luxury typically reserved for Africa’s best safari lodges. A nondescript marker off I-89 is the only signal to the outside world that it exists, and if you didn’t know it was there, you’d continue driving right past it, completely unaware that perhaps the most spectacular resort in the contiguous United States is hiding about a mile down the road.
That’s part of the appeal, of course. It’s an exclusive enclave where you can see and be seen after the fact (just like the string of celebrities who have posted about on their Instas), but while you’re there, you’ll be left entirely undisturbed by the realities lying just beyond its 600 private acres. A place whose metaphysical borders cannot be penetrated by the stresses and pressures of the outside realm, let alone your cell phone service.
Welcome to Amangiri.
It’s easy to get lost in hyperbole fresh off a memorable experience, but from the moment you take that turn off the highway to begin winding your way down a side road to the property, you just know the place is going to be the epitome of extravagance, and each new impression, view, detail or special touch only further reinforces that fact. Amangiri is snugly ensconced beside a low entrada sandstone formation, beautiful rocky outcroppings with hundreds of millions of years of geologic history, and yet in no way stands apart or detracts from its surroundings. Each and every architectural angle was designed to enmesh guests into the scene and its energy while showcasing the very peak of its potential.
Then there are the views — endless views of dramatic desert and rock which take on different moods depending on the time of day, fading into soft whites to capture the pinks of a sunset, or glowing a vibrant, fierce red under the afternoon sun. Each of the 34 suites is positioned to maximize the resort’s vantage as well as its privacy, offering guests their own little slice of sky and mountain to admire.
The rooms themselves are massive stone enclosures with sleek, contemporary design. Features include outdoor fireplaces equipped with DIY s’mores kits and myriad lounging areas and seating nooks, with a palette of natural, muted colors that let the setting do the talking. It’s all stark and sexy, with bathrooms large enough to double as personal spas, including dual-rainfall showers boasting room enough for all your closest friends and a soaking tub positioned with an epic landscape photograph in mind.
For a different feel, there’s also Camp Sarika, a standalone property housed within the larger Amangiri sphere. Camp Sarika is composed of 10 tented pavilions (some are one-bedroom, others two), each of which has its own plunge pool and fireplace, and an even more private, more intimate positioning within the surroundings. Guests at either of the concepts can make use of the other, but for those who prefer to stay within the quieter surroundings of Sarika, it has its own pool and restaurant, too.
If Amangiri was dropped down into a barren world with nothing of interest anywhere close to it, it would still stand out for its almost absurd levels of luxury. But the surroundings are, of course, a major part of the appeal. You can knock out more than half a dozen world-class national parks or attractions in this part of the country with ease: Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and the Grand Canyon, for starters, along with Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and Lake Powell, to name a few others. Private tours and excursions — including helicopter and hot air balloon rides — can be booked through the concierge.
For those who would rather not leave the property’s grounds — guilty — there are multiple daily, guided hiking sessions, with morning and afternoon departures taking guests through different routes to specific, notable sites across the property. And then there’s the standout activity at Amangiri: an intricate and intensive via ferrata network available exclusively as an amenity for guests.
Via ferrate, or iron roads, are traditional Alpine paths that allow for safe passage through otherwise harrowing mountainous terrain with the use of installed iron rungs and cables. At Amangiri, a number of different trails have been designed that allow you to push your personal limits as far as you’d like. There are sheer, vertical ascents, narrow suspended bridges dangling perilously above the valley floor, and staircases rising hundreds of feet into the sky from atop a hoodoo. The reward isn’t just the thrill and the exertion of conquering the trail you took, but of course the views from above, where you gain access to an unimpeded vantage point of the Colorado Plateau, even getting a glimpse of a number of the aforementioned national parks.
Elsewhere, you can take part in the property’s Integrative Movement program, which aims to align your mind, body and soul with the help of courses that range from self defense with a Muay Thai instructor to private yoga and pilates sessions to personal training with a pro bodybuilder. There’s an on-site activity and attendant guru for everybody: resident musicians play during dinner and Navajo storytelling presentations are led by locals from the nearby reservation; there are also geology lectures, stargazing sessions and wildlife workshops.
While there’s no shortage of adventure, Amangiri also offers a choose-your-own-adventure style of getaway that allows you to mix and match your amusements. You can dreamily drift off into a world of maximum relaxation and indulgence at the spa, where stone slab walls, candlelit halls and crackling fireplaces create the ambience of an ancient Egyptian temple or something out of Prometheus. Even without ordering a treatment, you can still while away an hour or two of wellness in the sauna and steam rooms, or take an icy cold plunge bath that’ll force you to channel your inner meditative Zen.
Or you might just want to lounge by the pool all day. Naturally heated to above 90 degrees, the iconic pool is wrapped around a jutting rock formation which was chosen as the center of the property, and fits so naturally that it could appear to be the now opened remnants of a slot canyon. That’s the evocative feel many of the property’s walkways are designed to evoke, a winding journey surrounded by rock, a setting inaccessible to those who don’t know the one way in or out.
Wherever and however you’re indulging, a major part of the experience will be the hotel’s endless eats. Menus draw inspiration from Navajo ingredients and dishes as well as the American Southwest at large, with a la carte and multi-course meals alike inclusive with a stay. Order anything you want, anytime you want, from anywhere, and it’ll be promptly prepared and delivered.
And then, when all good things must come to an end, you’ll find a packed lunch to-go and a new personalized luggage tag already in place on your suitcase to see you out the door. It’s those small touches — from arrival to the second you walk out the door, hopefully not kicking and screaming, although you could hardly be blamed — that make a big difference at a property that’s in a class of its own.
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