The Amangiri luxury desert resort with 600-acre natural landscape that Forbes magazine called the “Billionaire Enclave in the High Desert” looks like a desert Shangri-La. With 34 sublime eco-suites dressed in muted tones that blend harmoniously with the rustic mountains, it is not a surprise that many celebrities like Brad, Leo, the Biebers, and Kanye are regular visitors. Though the real star of this location is the stunning natural landscape situated on the Arizona-Utah border, where the resort is built around rock formations that date back 164 million years.
The activity menu here includes personalized back-to-the-wild adventures that allow “city slickers” to connect with nature. Guests can choose from a myriad of activities such as yoga at sunrise, guided mountain hikes, hot air balloon rides, and horseback riding “Lonesome Dove” style, just like in the movies. Those keen on one-of-a-kind adventures can opt for rock climbing via ferrata, which means “iron path” in Italian. This climbing route is built with a steel cable rail which is fixed to the rock and has a system of iron rungs, ladders, cables, harnesses, and carabiners, to keep climbers safe as they make their way up the Studhorse Mesa.
BACK TO NATURE
Thrill-seekers should definitely head to one of Amangiri’s via ferrata trails. I will never forget the first time that I tried rock climbing here with a group of friends and our two guides. Halfway through the arduous three-hour climb– where my arms and legs struggled along the rocks to maintain my balance– I didn’t think I could go further. But sheer determination and my desire to reach the summit with our group ultimately brought me to the top. The adventure continued as we walked across a thin metal bridge to return to the other side of the mountain. At 200 feet in length, the aerial bridge is the longest of its kind in the Northern Hemisphere, according to Aman Resorts’ press release. During the day, you could also tour the majestic desert on horseback, led by two friendly female wranglers wearing cowboy hats. During my excursion, our group’s soft chatter and laughter blended with the sounds of the horses’ hooves on the dirt road. “I feel like I’m in a Western movie!” a friend declared, as we galloped into the sunset. We also enjoyed the picturesque hike at Buckskin Gulch, where we were surrounded by Navajo sandstone and rock formations that had been carved into various shapes by centuries of wind and rain. The curves of the rocks were illuminated in the sun and they reflected varying hues of the surrounding red rocks. The word “breathtaking” doesn’t begin to describe the spectacular scenery.
The beautifully appointed rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows that allow the sunlight to stream in each morning. When I stepped onto the terrace at sunrise, the morning dew felt like gentle kisses from nature. The mood is pure serenity. Best of all, this exquisite destination is far away from the hectic city pace that we gratefully left behind. The 34 well-appointed Amangiri suites offer unobstructed desert vistas, along with a host of modern amenities, including WiFi, Bose speaker systems, heated towels, a soaking bathtub, a pool, and a Jacuzzi. Our group stayed in a private four-bedroom Mesa Home replete with a crackling fireplace and an elegant dining room and living room that opened onto a terrace leading to a 50-foot heated infinity pool.
From couple’s massages to hot stone treatments– which revive and reinvigorate the senses– the Amangiri spa combines western therapies with Navajo healing traditions, including the Native American Ceremony. Before my 90-minute massage, Nick, the masseur, lit dried sage leaves and gently waved them around me for cleansing and “good vibes.” The treatment included a relaxing scalp massage and reflexology that felt quite soothing–especially after rock climbing.
The superb restaurant is inside the Pavilion, the heart of the resort where guests check in. You’ll pass a library and a welcoming lounge with a roaring fireplace on your way to the restaurant. The Pavillion offers expansive views of the unspoiled desert on one side, and the other side features the iconic Entrada sandstone pool–my favorite spot to enjoy the resort’s famous cast iron pancakes. The food is locally sourced, seasonal, and the dishes here pay homage to Native American flavors–think buffalo carpaccio and smoky pima grits. The gifted chefs here are happy to accommodate any food requests, so don’t be shy to ask. For several nights, Chef Josh and his team arrived at the Mesa Home and prepared for us a scrumptious four-course Southwestern meal paired with wine.
The Amangiri in Utah is a haven for those seeking an authentic desert wilderness experience that combines the ultimate in luxury with natural surroundings. Not only does the resort offer fun outdoor activities and memorable cuisine, this enticing spot also provides the perfect location to reconnect with friends, family members, and most importantly.. oneself.