A game-changer for the whole industry located in a two-hundred-and-forty-two-hectare protected valley in Canyon Point. A man-made resort is blended with the remote wilds of the Southwest
Amangiri, Utah in Canyon Point
Amangiri is a secluded five-star resort and spa part of the Singapore-based hotel chain Aman group. In Sanskrit, the word means ‘peaceful mountain’. The structure is located in a two-hundred-and-forty-two-hectare protected valley in Canyon Point, Southern Utah. This is the country’s largest Native American reservation with sweeping views of the majestic Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Five national parks, numerous monuments as well as the Navajo Nation Reservation surround it.
It is an oasis of calm providing a peaceful hideaway in the middle of the canyons of the American Southwest. Its raw landscape made of mountain ridges, plateaus and dunes. The singular story of how Amangiri came to be, is a proof of the passion and determination of its owners to build something unique in the high desert of Utah.
Adrian Zecha, the founder of Aman Resorts, fell in love with a rock. A knotty, beige behemoth stretching across a vast landscape dotted with hoodoos, sandstone towers and spotted with desert vegetation. He, in fact, pictured a pool wrapped around this rock. However, it was located on government lands and the purchase of the surrounding forty hectares took ten years, requiring a special permission from Congress and a signature from then-president George W. Bush.
In the end, Zecha got what he dreamed. A U-shaped pool embracing the natural one-hundred-and-sixty-million-year-old rock. For the first time ever, a private resort has perhaps been built on what was originally a federally protected park. A complete respect for the environment therefore characterizes the entire complex’s design through the collaboration of three architects. Marwan Al-Sayed, Wendell Burnette and Rick Joy. Indeed, they came with the clear objective of blending seamlessly the built and the natural through clean geometric shapes and light colours for an authentic experience.
Lampoon review: Architecture and interior design at Amangiri
Starting from a deep understanding of the Southwest Desert, they wanted to give life to a contemporary interpretation of native Indian architecture to convey a sense and spirit of it. All the interior design details, in fact, have been designed to conceal the raw concrete architecture in the surrounding landscape of rocks and dunes, and to bring in that surreal peace that only nature can give. From the lighting and furnishings to the coordinated image.
The heart of the resort is the Pavilion. It consists of the living areas, the restaurant area, a library, an exhibition gallery. From it two different wings of the hotel separate from each other, the Desert Wing and the Mesa Wing. The first consists of sixteen suites, reachable by an enclosed outdoor path. While, the second includes eighteen suites that open out towards the desert. The thirty-four rooms are all located on the ground floor and feature full-height windows, natural stone floors, desert tones and simple but comfortable furnishings.
They are a modern interpretation of Native American shelters and keep guests focused on the outdoors. Beds face panoramic windows with breath-taking views, terraces have outdoor fireplaces and in the Desert Pool Suite, there is an outdoor bed. Here guests can admire the majesty of the ancient desert under a blanket of stars. Each room has a spacious dressing room, twin head shower as well as deep soaking tubs positioned in a window looking across the expanses. Six of the suites also come with small private plunge pools.
Aman Spa and the relevance of the wellness aspect
The result is minimalist and soothing, making it a real oasis of tranquillity that benefits from the absolute silence of the desert. The wellness aspect is also a relevant one. The property is, in fact, home to Aman Spa which covers over more than two-thousand-and-three-hundred square meters. It has a steam bath, a sauna, a jacuzzi, two indoor and outdoor pools, a water pavilion with hydrotherapy rooms, a Watsu pool offering water shiatsu, single and double treatment rooms plus two outdoor treatment terraces and spaces for exercise, yoga and pilates.
The Spa embraces the healing traditions of the Navajo culture aiming at restoring the ‘Hozho’ meaning ‘beauty, harmony, balance and health’. Modern treatments feature said aspects. These include massages, scrubs, bandages as well as floating therapies. The picturesque desert landscape around Amangiri offers a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking trails, horse riding in the tundra desert, rafting trips on the Colorado River, air tours by helicopter, in fixed-wing aircraft or on hot air balloons, exploration of slot canyons in the Navajo Reservation, but also of the national parks (Bryce, Grand Canyon and Zion).
To cope with Covid-19 situation, the property closed for two months starting in mid-March. To safely reopen on May 21st, Amangiri has given its best as a remote and intimate destination, in combination with rigorous health and safety measures. The resort had therefore to rethink a few things. But, for the most part, the Amangiri experience has not been overly compromised.
Amangiri’s team determined health and safety measures by looking at it from three different angles. Reduced capacity, social distancing and extra sanitation. Also wellness is still being checked. Everyone who enters the property is subject to a check, including guests. For staff, it is every day, twice a day. For guests, it is on arrival.
Camp Sarika by Amangiri
During the Covid-19 era, isolation and open spaces were more considered than ever before. While in these difficult times other companies in the sector had to close down, Aman Group unveiled on July 1st its latest project. Camp Sarika by Amangiri is a collection of ten tented pavilions with individual private plunge pools on a luxury campsite surrounded by raw wilderness in the heart of the desert. About a five-minute drive from the original property Amangiri. An immersive experience to the outdoors, but within an extremely controlled environment.
The timing of Camp Sarika’s opening was completely coincidental, fitting the history of the resort, which opened in the midst of the financial crisis in 2009. Being sensitive not to reopen Amangiri as a celebration, the Aman Group decided to push the original opening of the Camp back by a month or two. The decision was in respect of all the traumas of the community caused by the pandemic. Since the reopening of Amangiri resort and the opening of the new Camp, the response and demand had been great. Both are the ideal experience for the moment in which we live in, for autonomy and isolation.
1 Kayenta Rd, Canyon Point, UT 84741, USA
Amangiri is a five-star resort and spa part of the Singapore-based hotel chain Aman group. It is located in a two-hundred-and-forty-two-hectare protected valley in Canyon Point, Southern Utah.