Amangiri 1 Kayenta Rd., Canyon Point, Utah; 877-695-3999. www.amanresorts.com/amangiri/home.aspx. Thirty-four suites from $815.
Finding the turn onto the mile-and-a-half long dirt road leading to the new Aman resort (this is only the second North American property from the luxury brand) is like trying to spot an uncredited extra in a blockbuster film: Blink and you miss it. But it's precisely that exclusivity, as well as driving through a dazzling landscape of sweeping plateaus and towering stratified canyons, that helps enhance anticipation and excitement before arrival. Not that either is needed - this is an Aman property, after all.
Situated on 600 acres in an area called Four Corners - the states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona converge here - Amangiri is poised to become the place for well-heeled outdoor enthusiasts to hike, hot-air balloon and otherwise explore a handful of U.S. National Parks and Monuments (Grand Staircase-Escalante, Zion, Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon range from a 90-minute to a four-hour drive away). And for those looking to do nothing at all, well, there's plenty of that here, too.
DESIGN Instead of trying to upstage it, the designers were wise to create a resort that fuses into what some consider to be the most dramatic landscape on Earth. Indeed, Amangiri is built against a dramatic stone escarpment and is constructed of concrete made with soil taken directly from the property. Upon arrival, guests are led to a main pavilion where floor-to-ceiling windows look out to an expansive landscape on one side and a dreamy swimming pool on the other. Taking cues from the environs, the interior is peppered with textural elements, including raw and polished woods, stone and leather. Even a graceful tumbleweed on the floor serves as a decorative statement. Though large, the pavilion feels intimate thanks to unique areas - main and private dining rooms, a gallery, cellar, and a living room with six fireplaces - decorated in a soothing palette of creamy whites, mushroom greys and golden wheat hues. Everything at this resort has been custom made, from the plush sofas to the voluptuous floor lamps, the cowhide rugs and the hand soap in the bathrooms.
AMENITIES Guests pay top dollar to stay here but are rewarded with impeccable service (attentive but never intrusive) as well as some complimentary treats such as Wi-Fi throughout the property, yoga classes on most mornings and "tasting" hikes. With so much land out the front door, you don't ever need to leave the property to experience the landscape - but we recommend you do. Should you want to drive to Bryce Canyon or another park, you can do so behind the wheel of the resort's zippy BMW Z4 (yes, you can borrow it sans charge). There's also a fitness centre, yoga pavilion and a stunning 25,000-square-foot spa complete with steam room, sauna, water pavilion, watsu pool and outdoor treatment terraces. If you can think of it, Amangiri can arrange it: Private slot-canyon or off-road tours and scenic flights are a few suggestions.
THE ROOMS Entrance to each of the suites is through a private courtyard outfitted for al fresco dining. Textural and cozy elements such as wool throws, rawhide furniture and natural timber stand out against concrete floors and stone walls. A king-size bed set within a stone platform dominates the room and on either end is a writing desk and cozy sitting area. Extending the full length of the suite is a sky-lit dressing room with twin vanities, twin rain showers and a sunken tub with a view. Need another place from which to enjoy the scenery? An outdoor sitting area outfitted with plinth cushions and a gas fireplace looks out to the imposing mesa or the ample desert.
SERVICE "No" is not a word in the Aman vocabulary. And the staff, which will address you by name and treat you as cordially as a long-lost friend, will accommodate any request. Want a horseback-riding excursion to commence precisely from your suite's door? "Yes, of course." Feel like visiting the Grand Canyon? A private driver and BMW are waiting.
FOOD The dining room's open-concept kitchen adds another layer of private-residence ambience. Delicious breads and pizzas come out of the wood-fired oven and dishes such as corn-fed chicken or sea trout are paired with locally sourced ingredients with a Southwest slant (think sage onions, polenta, Arizona goat curd). The wine list highlights the best vintners of the Americas and particularly from the region, including a viognier by Sutcliffe from Colorado. But those craving a classical bottle, like a 2001 Château Haut-Brion, won't be disappointed.
VERDICT A spectacular desert haven for the well-heeled crowd.
Special to The Globe and Mail