Aman Resorts, the luxury hotel group, which counts the good and the mighty as its guests (Jay Z and Beyonce are both fans), was founded in 1988 by the Indonesian hotelier Adrian Zecha. Back then, Zecha was planning to build a holiday home for himself in Phuket, Thailand. But the plans developed into something larger, and soon he had created a small boutique beach resort, Amanpuri, on a private peninsula that overlooks the Andaman Sea.
Over the years, Zecha has slowly added to Aman’s portfolio: there came several luxury resorts in Indonesia and, in 1992, the group’s first destination in Europe, Aman Le Mélézin, in Courchevel, a resort in the French Alps known for its skiing. But it wasn’t until 2009 that the group reached the US.
Amangiri, in southern Utah, is in many ways the ultimate getaway, and one of Aman’s finest resorts. Nestled into the canyons of the Colorado Plateau, it is a modernist haven in the middle of the original Wild West, a beautifully boxy escape surrounded by ridges and ravines and stratified rock formations.
Amangiri is set across 600 acres of protected valley – everywhere you look is pristine rich-red desert – though the hotel itself comprises only luxury 34 rooms, including seven suites, each with breathtaking views framed by the straight lines of the building’s concrete architecture, and several tented pavilions located a short drive away.
Amangiri was designed by the architects Marwan Al-Sayed, Wendell Burnette and Rick Joy, who were asked to collaborate on a project that “would respect the natural environment,” Zecha said, which was “the most important aspect of the whole development.” This respect is most obvious when you see the hotel’s exterior pool, which bends around a colossal jutting rock formation rather than bulldozing through it, though the entire hotel fades into the landscape graciously so as to appear almost a part of it.
Since 2009, Amangiri has been slowly updated, though most of the amends have come in the form of additions to the resort’s experience offer. Earlier this year, Zecha introduced a rope ladder-like stairway that links two rock formations and rises 400 feet above ground. (It is described, on the hotel’s website, as being “well-suited to thrill-seekers”.) Part-way through the pandemic, tabloids in the US began to pick up on the fact that Amangiri had become a haven for lockdown-escaping celebrities, who had begun to publish Instagram stories from the site.
Though, really, everyone visits for the same reason: to be closer to raw and vast nature, to the low rolling hills and shrub, to the deep nothingness of the surrounding desert-scape.
Words: Editorial Board
Photography: Aman Group