Amangiri is an ode to the mysterious rock formations of southern Utah and the ancient Navajo culture. An enclave of luxury and style in America’s most dramatic desert landscape. Take one of the world’s most influential and eccentric hoteliers, bring him together with several prominent American architects and drop them into the magical moonscape of immense rock formations, mesas and rolling hills somewhere deep in southern Utah. The location is Canyon Point, a stone’s throw from the famous Lake Powell and spot on the invisible border between Arizona and Utah. Finding Amangiri in this desert landscape is not easy. A mini signpost indicates left, towards a dusty road that disappears into endless oblivion. After a long drive between looming rock formations with characteristic flowing lines etched in the sandstone, you at last spot Amangiri in the distance. A mirage in the form of a razor-sharp, rectangular pavilion made of polished concrete. Amangiri nestles alongside a huge sandstone escarpment. The architecture does not impose itself on the landscape. The only unnatural note in this desert setting is the sharply contrasting blue of the swimming pool. Out of respect for the rugged Utah terrain and its typical Entrada sandstone, the hotel was designed as a massive block that seems to have emerged from the earth through natural erosion by the elements. The three architects used a mixture of local sand and cement to closely match the colour and density of the surrounding geological formations. Because of its remoteness, a special concrete casting plant had to be built on-site and colossal moulds were used to achieve the resulting monolithic forms. And light is undoubtedly one of the most important protagonists here. Amangiri is so remote that there’s literally nothing else to see here except nature and the exceptional play of light that changes at every moment of the day. Zechia and I-10 Studio have designed Amangiri in such a way that light constantly manifests itself in different ways. The angular minimalism of the building’s design is enhanced by an equally jagged play of light, from the fine sunrays sketching patterns on the sand-coloured walls, to the views through glassless windows that give the impression that the landscape is a painting. The architecture grabs the extreme environment, together with the light, and pulls them inside.
Every aspect of the architecture refers back to the immediate surroundings. Like two eagle’s wings, the 34 rooms and suites sweep out from the main building towards the desert. Each room overlooks this harsh scenery and wide panoramic views are even visible from the bath or bed. The idea is to step immediately out of your room into the desert. A large folding window opens completely onto a private terrace with a fire pit. Perfect for admiring the intense pitch-black nights and starry skies of southern Utah. In the main pavilion there is a bar, a restaurant, a library and a shop. In true Asian tradition, Zechia has also included a posh spa, where you find cool, enclosed spaces that hark back to traditional Navajo hogan buildings and for less sweltering moments of the day, small open-air treatment pavilions. The spa’s small swimming pool also provides relief from the dry desert heat. Wherever you look, all you see is water, rock or sky, nothing else. Amangiri is dominated by a purity of design and an absence of over-decoration. It’s a bit like camping in ultra-luxurious surroundings. Imagine: no noise, not even music beside the swimming pool, and shifting, hallucinatory landscapes with no light pollution because the civilized world is so far away. Perhaps these elements give Amangiri its extraordinary character and explain why those who visit, always wish to return.
We were blown away by the location and the design. This is truly one of the most remarkable resorts in the US. We would go back immediately to sit on the terrace of our room, admiring the views over the desert or to watch the sunset on the terrace of the main building with a glass of good wine offered by the house. However we were not impressed by The spa therapist. And please feed me some real bread for breakfast!
How to get there
Amangiri (opened in October 2009) is approximately 5 hours driving from Las Vegas (the biggest close by city). Renting a Ford Mustang convertible to explore the area around Amangiri is a big adventure and a real must-do. Sunny Cars offers convertibles starting around 50 dollars per day, all extras and taxes included. Try to explore Glen Canyon National Park, Zion National Park and the famous Horse Shoe Bend plus Antilope Canyon.
The closest airport is Page from where Amangiri organises free transfers.
Room rates start as of 1050 $ + taxes.
What to do
Try to explore Glen Canyon National Park, Zion National Park and the famous Horse Shoe Bend plus Antilope Canyon. These highlights of nature are all in easy reach and the drive towards them are already worth the effort. Even a day-trip to Monument Valley is an option.