Amangiri: A Bucket List Destination

The Blending of Nature and Luxury

Walking to Amangiri’s Desert Lounge with Executive Chef Anthony Marazita, I struck up the courage to ask a question that had been on my mind since finishing breakfast.

“So did you make Justin Bieber some of your Huevos Rancheros? What did he eat?” 

He laughed.

“I wouldn’t even know if he came,” Marazita coyly replied.

Okay, so Amangiri staffers value guest privacy. Fortunately, Bieber’s Instagram account had confirmed his stay. 

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that no plan is sometimes the only plan. It doesn’t take a slew of cancelled concerts, weddings, graduations, and birthdays to force a realization that sometimes, there are simply things we just can’t control. And in a way, that’s what Amangiri (Sanskrit for “peaceful mountain”) is all about, and probably one reason Bieber and his wife (and countless other A-listers) have stayed at the Canyon Point, Utah destination.

“Amangiri represents everything we can’t control,” General Manager Julien Surget shares. “It’s bigger than us. It’s greater than us. It’s older than us. It’s just an inspiring and humbling destination.”

The Swiss-born hotel manager was drawn to the place and traded in his stint at a high-end hotel overlooking the White House for a chance to run a luxurious eco-resort overlooking sandstone sculptures, mesas, and 600 acres of ancient natural rocks and treasures.

For 48 hours, I was determined to disconnect and enjoy this bucket list, 50th birthday present from my husband. I knew if I had an iPhone relapse, the 5-star resort would be there to set me straight, as you simply can’t ignore the silence or Amangiri’s surroundings. Even the bed in our Mesa suite was positioned facing the outdoors, to a large open terrace and personal firepit for S’mores or warmth, should you require either.

Amangiri is an architecture-lover’s dream—it’s hard to tell where a structure ends and the landscape begins. The resort’s central swimming pool is a focal point, built around a 165 million-year-old sandstone rock.

My first order of business was figuring out how to enjoy a vodka-cran in the Colorado Basin, so we were encouraged to select one of Amangiri’s bespoke dining experiences, the Sunset Trail, which featured chef-inspired canapés in a secluded area on the property, paired with exceptional views of the Southwestern desert sunset.

Everything was set up by the time we arrived via house car, a BMW, left for us to use when we finished our appetizers and sunset-selfies.

Dinner that night included Chef Marazita’s Spirit of the Journey tasting menu, with nods to the five different Native American tribes in the area. Each course told a story via its “local flavors and a luxury twist.” 

I lost track of time somewhere between the Mesquite Smoked Duck Breast and Chile-rubbed Crusted Elk. But, my favorite had to be the Tó—blue corn polenta, poached lobster, and goat cheese encased in a Native American fry bread popover.

Feeling adventurous, the next morning we opted for the resort’s Via Ferrata experience. A few years ago, Amangiri teamed up with Adventure Partners to create a network of hiking trails and rock climbs.

Determined not to let my fear of heights get in the way, our guide, J.J. McMahon, handed me a rock-climbing harness and helmet, and promised he’d be there to make sure I enjoyed the climb and didn’t forget to breathe along the way.

“Let’s talk about this,” he said calmly as we geared up to cross the Hoodoo Trail’s signature 238-foot-long custom-made suspension bridge, secured by 6-inch graded steel and supports on both ends. “I feel more comfortable on that bridge than I do driving into work.”

Eyes opened on the other side, I felt grateful to be celebrating a milestone birthday at this place. As I scanned the landscape, with Glen Canyon National recreation area to my right and the Grand Escalante Staircase on the left, I realized that no celeb Instagram account will ever be able to do Amangiri justice. You just have to add it to your bucket list and see it for yourself.

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