Off Season Road Trip Inspiration: Amangiri in Utah is an Otherworldly Desert Experience

By Becca Hensley | March 26, 2018 | Lifestyle

The road west from Aspen takes you through the desert - at Amangiri, futuristic design fuses with the canyon lands.


Common spaces frame the views.

If you fall asleep as a passenger en route to Amangiri, a luxury resort spun amid the 180-million-yearold, rust-hued hoodoos and gingery boulders of southeastern Utah’s high desert terrain near the Arizona border, you’ll likely wake thinking you’ve been transported to a planet far, far away.

Otherworldly, secluded Amangiri fuses so deftly into the ancient landscape that it actually appears to vanish into thin air when glimpsed from a distance. Upon approach, its modern architecture, low boxes arranged in a row, takes shape like a mirage vividly crystallizing. Home to coyote, jack rabbits and reptiles, its swath of onetime government-owned land consists of dramatic canyons, caves and mesas. Among its 600 acres, arrowheads can be found and trails hiked, via ferratas conquered and dinosaur bones discovered. Standing on a terrace for the sunset here, where the silence of the wilderness resonates with a quietude so profound, it seems to have sound.


The desert surrounding Amangiri was acquired in a land trade with the U.S. government.

Built to showcase nature, Amangiri, constructed with natural materials, has interiors that allude to organic elements and the desert’s largesse. Spartanly elegant, the 34 suites and various common areas (including the indigenously themed spa) draw from the location.

That connection to the earth’s bounty may feel familiar to Aspenites. After all, our mountain hamlet also pulled inspiration from the terroir. Once an isolated ranching community, withered by the dying silver mining era, key visionaries recognized the value of its location—and integrated nature’s gifts into its reimagined purpose. As the new Aspen began with skiable slopes, so (decades later) Amangiri began with a colossal rock. Adrian Zecha, the founder of London-based Aman Resorts, visited the present-day hotel, then untrammeled land, fixating on a certain huge boulder. The architects envisioned a U-shaped pool enwrapping it. His oasis took 10 years to bring to fruition, a wait that involved special permission from Congress and a land trade between the U.S. government and Aman Resorts. This resulted, at last, in what Amangiri’s General Manager Julien Surget calls “a bold yet responsive settlement that both honors and celebrates the magic and mystery of southern Utah’s majestic cliffs, rock formations and the region’s ancient Navajo heritage.”


The pool.

While Amangiri seeks a “contemporary interpretation of American Indian architecture with its low-rise buildings… At Aman, we have always valued simple, minimalistic and paredback architecture and design,” says Surget. The hotel exudes a sense of the American West’s adventure by day and “a stillness, reflective of the region, by night,” he adds.

As travelers increasingly seek out destinations in the West that offer a disconnect from the urban world, Amangiri offers a unique immersion into the land’s eons of geological and cultural history. You’ll feel small here—as your heart grows big. Suite rates from $2,250 per night, 1 Kayenta Road, Canyon Point, Utah,

Photography by: