From the Road: Incomparable

By Andrea Tyler Evans & Tom Evans

It’s rare in life that you come across something truly unique, something you almost don’t know how to describe, because you’ve never seen anything like it.

That’s the takeaway — in a very good way — from our trip to Amangiri, the ultra-exclusive luxury resort just north of the Arizona-Utah border. Set in a visually stunning 900-acre property secluded from nearby Highway 89 and Lake Powell, Amangiri is perhaps the most unique resort in the country.

Entering the property, you take a winding road from the highway through about two miles of desert in the upper Colorado River plateau, a setting full of sandstone canyons and mesas. What may initially seem stark upon first view starts to explode with color and contrast, creating a natural environment that one would have never imagined could host a luxury resort, yet does so perfectly.

The main resort itself, along with its less than three dozen guest suites, 25,000-square-foot spa and indoor lounges for dining, is designed to blend in and emphasize the incredible topography, with minimalist architecture that literally builds the resort into the rocks. From above — we’ll get to this more in a minute — it’s almost hard to pick out the structure from the surrounding landscape.

Yet somehow, the elegance of a five-star resort comes through, with comfortable nooks and crannies where you can sit and relax, take in the views, have a cocktail and enjoy a warm fire. The swimming pool adjacent to the lounge — heated to 87 degrees year-round — is particularly large and welcoming for such a small number of rooms.

The accommodations are an experience of their own. Our Desert Suite was designed to spotlight the views of the surrounding sandstone mesas, including an outdoor patio with day beds separated by a fire pit. The interior featured a central concrete structure that houses a desk, king-sized bed and couch, allowing guests to move around the remainder of the space. Amenities such as the TV and minibar are hidden in cleverly designed cabinets, and the spacious bathroom offered dual overhead showers and a bathtub for two.

Amangiri boasts a broad range of lodging options, from king suites like the one we stayed in, to one- and two-bedroom options with their own private pools and amenities. A newer portion of the property called Camp Sarika offers 10 additional luxury suites, all built under canopies designed to spotlight views and give a sense of blending in with the desert.

This place is a bucket-list property. As of press time, the all-inclusive rates start at around $3,000 per night. But what you get is, once again, genuinely unique.

The per-night rates include dining (not alcohol), and the main lobby restaurant rotates its menus throughout the day with a variety of Southwestern and Asian-inspired cuisine. Everything we tried — from breakfast bowls to lunch appetizers to the tasting menu at the restaurant at Camp Sarika — was perfectly prepared and delicious. The cuisine felt healthy and somehow decadent at the same time, and our two nights there allowed us to try a variety of fare.

But it’s the outdoors that’s the draw to Amangiri. The vast property isn’t just there for show. It includes more than 15 miles of hiking trails that allow you to get out and explore your desert surroundings and the sandstone canyons. The truly unique experience is the offer of guided outdoor experiences called Via Ferratas, designed to present a rewarding physical challenge as you enjoy nature.

Our Via Ferrata was led by our guide J.J., who enthusiastically and carefully guided us through an ascent of a mesa several hundred feet tall. The adventure began with a hike of about three-fourths of a mile; then, it was time to go up. Amangiri took great care in building these courses, so despite one of us having an acute fear of heights, we made it all the way up without incident. The experience felt safe the entire way, and we were rewarded with sweeping views of the entire property.

On the last day of our stay, we met up with J.J. again for a guided hike out to a large alcove carved into the sandstone named “Broken Arrow Cave” for its role in the film of the same name. The experience included the chance to see petroglyphs and ruins along with beautiful views of nature. It was less demanding than the Via Ferrata experience while still giving us an excellent physical challenge.

Along with opportunities for adventure, Amangiri provides an ideal place to unplug, including a large and welcoming spa where we enjoyed a couple’s massage and some time in the hot tub carved into the desert. It’s easy to see why celebrities and regular visitors choose Amangiri as an escape — the connection with nature and the pampering of a five-star resort definitely provide an opportunity to unwind.

Like we said, we don’t quite know what to compare it to. We’ve been fortunate to travel well but have not experienced anything quite like Amangiri. It’s certainly worth adding to a traveler’s wish list. If you have the means, it’s an adventure you won’t soon forget.

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About Andrea Evans

Andrea Tyler Evans is the Publisher of Frontdoors Media. She can be reached at
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