If there was ever a time when it was possible to be completely immersed in nature, now is it. Amangiri is a luxurious resort located in Canyon Point, Utah between Page, Ariz.
But don’t believe me. Julien Surget is the general manager of the resort. The property has been booked solidly since its reopening in May. And though it’s operating at reduced capacity due to COVID-19, the introduction of Camp Sarika and its 10 new tented pavilions — and a guest desire to focus on self-care — has allowed the resort to be more profitable year-over-year.
In a time where people are looking for solace in nature, Amangiri is there. The details are not only designed to complement the landscape, but they are built around it.
Perhaps the best example of this is the property’s pool, where the borders arch around Studhorse Mesa, a 160-million-year-old sandstone escarpment that stretches on either side, far past the confines of the guest area and into the resort’s 600 acres. The rock protruding from the ground and the water flowing around it are uncannily similar to Horseshoe Bend, which is a narrow branch of the Colorado River that runs around a sandstone arpment in horseshoe shape.
According to Surget, Adrian Zecha (founder of parent company Aman Resorts) was unhappy with the land originally offered for Amangiri. According to the legend, Zecha informed the property owner that he would get the land owned by the government with the projecting sandstone rock. The process of trading land with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management took years and required congressional approval.
Zecha realized his vision. Amangiri, which means “peaceful mountain,” is now 11 years old, and the resort has become increasingly iconic.
Surget, who joined the property about four years ago, credits the spike in popularity with the incredible success of the 2016 National Park Service Centennial, which drew major attention to parks in the Colorado Plateau that are located within a few hours’ reach of the resort, including the Grand Canyon in Arizona and Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks in Utah. About 20 minutes away is Page, Ariz., which has become a gateway for these parks as well as Monument Valley, a butte-dotted landscape featured prominently in Western and modern films.
The resort is at the border of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and minutes away from American Southwest road trip staples Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell and Antelope Canyon (a slot canyon that wows visitors with its narrow passageways sandwiched by towering sandstone that has been eroded by wind and water into smooth, wave-like patterns).
As this swath of hoodoo- and mesa-studded land rose in prominence, so did the resort — which, to many, is unarguably the most exclusive in the U.S.
Besides for several high-end dude ranches, it is hard to think of another U.S. luxury resort that enjoys so much private access to nature, along with great cuisine, service and architecture. It is difficult to imagine a resort that has such a unique environment and keeps it for its guests. On a recent visit, Missy, my instructor pointed out the formation of a slot canyon under our feet while we were on a sunset hike along one of the resort’s trails.
Throughout the acreage, there are countless geologic and natural wonders, and it’s all there just for guests to explore — whether by lounging at the 25,000-square-foot spa or scaling one of four via ferratas installed in the surrounding sandstone. Note: Mark, an Adventure Partners guide, said that although soft sandstone may not be suitable for climbing, it is ideal for via ferratas. )
Even gentle hikes require some scrambling, though the property makes this as painless as possible with discreet ropes, bridges and stairs that provide easy access to what’s around the corner. (Hint) Another stunning rock slab will be set against a blue sky with pastel-colored desert plants like Mormon tea, scrub oak and narrow leaf yucca. )
One of two complimentary hikes offered daily is the trek to Broken Arrow Cave (the site of the 1996 “Broken Arrow” film), a striking monolith featuring an ancient cave at its center.
At the archeological site, remains from up to 8,000 years ago have been found, and guests can inspect animal and vegetal relics, sharpened rocks that were chiseled into weapons and even a petroglyph representing a man.
Christian, another guide with Adventure Partners, took us into the cave — which can only be entered with a guide due to conservation efforts. It was clear from our shaded spot that the cave, which faces south, was important for hunter-gatherers seeking shelter and access to water and food.
The resort’s success was not only predicted by vagabonds but also with elite jet-set professionals, models, and celebrities who are among those who can afford its entry fee. Justin, Hayley Bieber, and Kylie Jenner were separated by only days this summer at Amangiri. )
A weekend stay in January — the slower season — currently starts at $2,650 per night for a 1,000-square-foot Desert View Suite and includes three meals per day for two guests (alcohol, spa treatments and most excursions are extra).
Celebs and models seem to be most attracted by the resort’s stark architecture and high contrast lighting. However, even those who are content with taking selfies will feel pleasantly immersed.
For one, the guestroom palette takes a cue from the outdoors, with distressed concrete walls; lots of wood; beige and white furniture; and tiled showers and bathrooms the color of the sagebrush outside. The room has everything you need, from the sofa and bed to the bath and shower. The rooms reflect the modernist architecture throughout the property. Geometric shapes create slot-canyon openings that allow for dramatic views.
Those looking for more bragging rights — and an even deeper immersion into nature — can opt for the 10 standalone units at Camp Sarika, which launched this past July and includes its own restaurant and spa. Unexacting may mistakenly call it “Amangiri Glamping”, but these are individual bungalows made from walls, insulation, and canvas.
Amangiri refers to them as “private canvas-ceilinged Pavilions” and the two-bedroom units, which are particularly spacious and suitable for families, are called “private canvas-ceilinged Pavilions”. Buying out the entire camp for small groups has become a popular, though not inexpensive option: A weekend stay in January at Camp Sarika starts at $3,150 for a 1,990-square-foot One Bedroom Pavilion and includes three meals per day for two guests.
During a tour of the camp, general manager Surget pointed out how designers Luxury Frontiers took great pains to place each pavilion where it would enjoy complete privacy, which is ideal as each has its own private terrace complete with an outdoor shower, a fire pit, a plunge pool and a telescope. The camp blends in seamlessly with its surroundings, and it is difficult to see unless you look from the right angle.
With all the privacy offered by Amangiri, Camp Sarika has become a great example of what guests need from domestic travel during a pandemic.
Even though many people are slowly getting out of their hibernation pods, the service is still the best. The staff made it easy for me to socialize with the new socially awkward while I was there.
It is clear that management has found a way to assess clients’ potential for making their dreams come true. Employees went out of their way to make each experience, from dining to a dip in a spa pool, memorable. Evan, our server at Main Restaurant, insistently sent s’mores to our rooms after we found out that it was our last night. After he had given us three desserts that evening, Evan insisted on sending s’mores to our room. It was sweet, and not only because of the sugar.
No matter how stunning Amangiri looks during the day, the property’s transformation at night is simply breathtaking. The resort has zero light pollution so the night sky is fully visible.
While the marshmallows were being toasted on the patio fireplace, the twinkling sky jockeyed to my attention. Suddenly, a star shot diagonally overhead. Then another.
It wasn’t about the s’mores. Or the pool. Amangiri believes luxury is just a way to connect guests with nature in new and meaningful ways.
I’m Michelle, and I love to travel. As a former hotel expert for one of the world’s largest hotel chains, I’ve stayed in nearly every type of room imaginable (including many that were not so desirable!). Nowadays, I am fortunate enough to be able to explore the world on my own terms. From international flights to learning different languages, there is nothing too far out of reach!