Under the Radar with XOJET: Amangiri, Utah
Private aviation clients are accustomed to thinking in terms of flight hours and flight miles.
So let’s get away from the flight plan for a moment: XOJET can take you 50 to 80 million years into the deep American geological past. No flight suit or training required.
Just book a trip to Page Municipal Airport, on the Arizona-Utah border, and a room at Amangiri resort. It lies by the Four Corners—the vast tableland where Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico do-se-do—and takes just 20 minutes to reach from the airport by car.
The resort, situated in a curl of cliff, plays off the eons-old eroded rock with sleek geometrical architecture. From your room you see sand-billows rushing toward a bone-white mesa, and behind that, a fortress of rust-red cliffs. In an eye-instant, you’ve just traveled millions of years, geologically speaking; all that red in the distance is the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, in far southern Utah, and all that sand is probably a teenager in geological time.
Amangiri nests in the midst of spectacular eroded rock formations, a rock opera of violent up-thrusting and relentless weathering that created this vast geological zoo: pinnacles, hoodoos (mushroom-hooded rock towers), benches, terraces like the upper deck of a stadium, and mesas flat as a marine haircut. It’s why the region contains the greatest concentration of national parks and national monuments in America.
Sanskrit for “peaceful mountain,” Amangiri puts you right in the middle of this ancient splendor while offering a contemporary take on luxury in its accommodation, service, and food. (As you know, the Singapore-based Aman company specializes in developing small, exclusive resorts in extraordinary and often out-of-the-way places.) When you arrive, you may have a déjà vu moment. The property was used as a setting in Broken Arrow, in which a renegade Air Force strategic bomber pilot (John Travolta) highjacks a nuclear weapon and then tries to use it to blackmail the U.S. government.
What’s great about Amangiri is there’s nothing old-west about the architecture and design (no bleached cattle skulls here). It’s a resort of concrete geometric planes that stand out against the swerving shoulders of rock, yet seems perfectly in place. The concrete has been subtly tinted with pink, ocher, and light yellow, which are among the dominant hues in the surrounding cliffs, and which soften the resort’s profile. The architects deftly used the geometry—walls slanting toward each other to provide “slot canyon” views of the desert and mesa, and a pool curving around a muscular bullnose rock outcrop—to add a grace note of harmony.
The centerpiece of the resort is a great room with four fireplace niches—a kind of conversation pit writ large. Here, as the sun sets, the flaming cliffs slowly fade to black silhouettes, while you have cocktails and then dine from a sophisticated menu that is, well, millions of gastronomical miles from here.
The guest rooms are marvels of monotone—concrete walls, blonde wood, raffia, white leather—with a touch of color: sage tiles in the spacious bath and double shower. The top suites here are the Girijaala and Amangiri Suites, oases of privacy with respective 46- and 60-foot-long pools. It all sets up to accommodate virtually every stripe of traveler, from couples and families to hard- and soft-adventurers to action photographers and cocktail-hour Instagrammers.
But whoever you are and whichever room you choose, it’s the immersion in a geological realm that is pristine, and the night sky—a pinwheel of stars—that leaves a lasting impression. The resort offers a long menu of adventure experiences, but one of the best starts out right on property, a “via ferrata” (Italian for “iron road”). It’s a hike up a stretch of rock that at one point requires you to climb metal rungs driven into the rock face.
The reward is an unforgettable view. The landscape unfolds like origami: Lake Powell reaching its fingers deep into canyons, the road north to Kanab etched across the flats in dry paint, the red slab cliffs of Bryce Canyon, and right down there, a convex curve of matte-white buildings that looks like a scattering of dice. (That’s the resort.)
Height here equals time: Climbing up 500 feet, you’ve traversed some 60 million years.
Amangiri’s six, on-property “via ferratas” showcase some of the area’s most spectacular climbs through a series of fixed cables and ladder runs. Guests can scale steep mountain routes with the help of a trained Amangiri guide, available for climbers of all levels (even those with no prior climbing experience). Finish off the day with a massage or body treatment at Amangiri’s world-class spa.
Boating on Lake Powell
Lake Powell is just minutes from Amangiri and offers a wide array of day activities for couples, friends, and families alike. Join a private boat tour, ranging from two to eight hours in length, and spend the day swimming, fishing, paddle-boarding, kayaking, or exploring the lake’s iconic Rainbow Bridge, a 290-foot free-standing arch.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Sandstone pillars (called hoodoos), windswept gorges, and hidden grottoes dot the mesmerizing landscapes of Bryce Canyon, a giant natural amphitheater some 3,000 feet above Amangiri. Guests can take in its extraordinary views via helicopter or fixed-wing plane, available for reservation directly through the resort. Or, join an on-the-ground excursion and embark on some of Utah’s most otherworldly hikes.
*All Photos Courtesy of: Amangiri
About the Contributor
Gary Walther has been a travel journalist for 40 years. He has been editor-in-chief of Departures, Expedia Travels, Luxury SpaFinder, and Forbes Life magazines, and for the past five years a freelancer with a column on Forbes.com called The Hotel Detective. He has passport stamps from 61 countries and is a million-miler on American Airlines. He writes for the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and Departures Europe among other publications.