Desert Sojourns – Amangiri

Advance planning and early reservations are essential for this divine desert destination – unless you don’t mind searing summer heat. Spring and late summer are ideal for a visit to one of the most iconic Aman properties; Amangiri is a remote hideaway tucked within the luminous canyons of the American Southwest.

Amangiri Pool

Located in a protected valley with sweeping views, the resort offers both adrenaline-fueled adventure and a peaceful retreat. Set in the heart of the Grand Circle, the largest concentration of national parks in the United States, Amangiri is well located for explorations of the region’s rugged beauty. Panoramas stretch across the 810-acre estate. Amangiri’s geometric planes are hued with ocher, yellow and pink to blend with the cliff curve it sits within. Each Suite features a large living area that opens onto a terrace offering views that change color by the hour.

Delicate sensory sounds and visuals: from lighting – candle lanterns illuminating the extended passageways to the rooms, monumental walls with dripping water which alternately cascade into a small pond with a splash or gently onto a row of pebbles – each producing a distinct sound. Dripping, splashing, rippling water in fountains or reflecting pools – water elements are used extensively throughout the intimate resort.

Visuals – design can’t compete with nature, and Aman resorts manage the complimentary juxtaposition of a resort with the environment.  Narrow slots in between 30-foot walls, draw your gaze to the burnt orange and creamy white butte in the distance, the image is reflected off copper edges – clever and stimulating. Slot canyons are abundant in the area and the witty imagery is a whimsical ingenious reference.

Water, lighting, and sound – the afternoon wind adds to the mix: rippling the overhead wind sheets in the halls, the waves in the pool slap the side and cascade down to a hidden seating area. Amangiri is all about becoming one with nature.

View from Bed – Amangiri

LOCATION – In Utah, at the border of the four corners of the Southwest; the dramatic resort is the center of the Grand Circle, surrounded by such iconic attractions as the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Grand Staircase, Escalante and Bryce & Zion National Parks – finally a luxury property to use as a base for touring. Although I only left for daily hikes, as the resort landscape is unrivaled and captivating.  Positioned in an arc of enormous stratified rock, Amangiri nuzzles into a natural curve of the sandstone, barely discernible from the horizon. Two wings of suites are nestled into the base of the outcropping; the hues of the cement were modified six times by artist Ulrike Arnold to obtain the most striking resemblance to the surrounding landscape. Ulrike Arnold, whose oversize paintings are hung in the dining room travels the world working with the natural hues of landscape and stone.

ACTIVITIES

Early-morning hot air balloon flights offer high-altitude dawn views

Launching directly from Amangiri, the flight takes in views of Lake Powell, Navajo Mountain, the Vermillion Cliffs and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Unearth fossils at one of the world’s richest paleontology sites

Explore Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument with a paleontology interpreter, excavate the Tibbet Spring Bone Bed Quarry and visit nearby fossils and dinosaur tracks.

Lake Powell takes kayakers to extraordinary formations and landscapes

Straddling Arizona and Utah, this 189-mile reservoir boasts dramatic rock formations, deep Navajo history, and some of the most picturesque hiking and kayaking in America. Fringed by slot canyons and lofty mesas, Lake Powell’s more than 3,200km (2,000 miles) of shoreline and secluded bays provide boundless exploration. Straddling Arizona and Utah, this 189-mile reservoir boasts dramatic rock formations, deep Navajo history, and some of the most picturesque hiking and kayaking in America.

A powerboat transports you up-lake to a quiet area that affords access to some of the lake’s most beautiful, serene, and geographically unique pockets. Then what?  Stand-up paddle board along the 1900-mile-long shoreline, kayak on the glassy waters of the inlets, hike along the local sandstone or “slickrock,” and explore some of the lake’s natural caves, “hoodoo” rock towers, and 96 canyons. After a day of extraordinary adventure, we enjoy dinner on-board a luxury houseboat and take in a little stargazing by campfire before bed.

Discover the rich cultural heritage of the Navajo

Experiences range from tours with Navajo guides at slot canyons and Monument Valley to storytelling and ritual dances.

Experience the sweeping desert landscape on a horseback trail

Amangiri’s extensive trails and expert guides offer riding adventures for all levels.

Get up close with Amangiri’s majestic rock formations, courtesy of four via ferrata

Ladder rungs, fixed cables and a guide ensure safe climbing and a dramatic perspective of the valley.

Soak in the scenery, bliss out in the spa or fuel your passion for adventure- in this desert oasis. Highly recommend, Amangiri!

Amangiri Spa

Brekkie Basket- details, details, details!

The Rain In Spain Stays Mainly In The Plain… Rain In May?

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
Virginia Woolf, “A Room of One’s Own”
A recent jaunt to the city for lunch with a very dear friend, sitting outside at Rose’s Cafe under overhead heaters, we shivered as rain dripped down the canvas awnings…Rain in May? Our corner table did afford us a ringside seat to greet all the friends who passed by; we held court and ignored the dreary rain, dreaming we were really in Paris! One of my best memories of a rainy lunch is of cuddling under an awning at a café in Paris; thunder reverberating off the classic masonry buildings, lightening illuminating the black sky, it was magnificent! Who was that man who took me to Paris? I will never forget the storm and the divine lunch.
I’m still enjoying my recent hues of RED phase; grief creates odd behavior; when I lost my parents in the recent months, I was inspired to paint the dining room and living room bright RED, with glossy black trim…my African art pops in the new environment. My painter’s impression of the first coat of RED: it’s panoramic, Spanish translation: she’s nuts! The RED movement migrated to one of my ‘outdoor rooms’ oversize comfy teak chairs overlooking the white rose garden- RED cushions, the Plaza Athenee RED afternoon sunspot. California living inspires hours in the garden, hours reading in the hammock, hours dining alfresco. I’m ready for patio dinners, reading the Times in the chaise, morning sunshine…
My recent picnic efforts have been hampered by the unusual rainy and cold weather. I vaguely remember one ‘summer’ picnic served in my bedroom with a colorful outdoor umbrella planted in the center of the room, overlooking another white rose garden, a rained out summer picnic…another El Nino spring?
Yummy homemade strawberry ice cream, grilled Argentine steak with Chimichurri sauce, 40 heads of Romaine lettuce sprouting in my summer garden have already provided several delicious Caesar salads; Amangiri chef served a spicy HOT HOT grilled Caesar salad, it will need to be served in the Gaucho Bodega, if the rain continues.
Evocative memories of meals served in outdoor settings: African bush breakfast – divine warm muffins, nuts, fruit and cheese, Kenyan coffee, listening to hippos bellowing from a pond. An Argentine picnic at a lookout at 12,000 feet, latte and petite sweets at The Ritz in Paris, a cold Coke and a bread snack after meeting the women of Langata prison in Nairobi. Sipping Champagne after hitting the ground hard in a hot air balloon, a well-deserved toast to the captain who avoided the herd of elephants and the small lake! Serving vessels and locations are as important as the food. Amangiri meals are delivered in three-tiered Indian baskets- perfect and dramatic – the opening act for the homemade pastries and granola. Set the stage! A late afternoon Tusker and chips in the bush, sundowner cocktails, speeding across the bay in a Venezia water taxi, English wicker basket with china in tow; mint tea and dates in a Moroccan oasis, white tablecloth dinner in a tree house high above the jungle floor, breakfast with the rising sun at the end of a wooden pier on Lake Victoria, monitor lizards swimming nearby…wherever you are, pause and linger and make each and every meal a moment to treasure.
To tempt you and remind you that spring is here and summer really is around the corner, photos of memorable alfresco meals.