Seldom does the vastness of the American West feel so magical. The Amangiri Resort (peaceful mountain) is tucked into a protected valley in Southern Utah, surrounded by deep canyons, towering plateaus and table mountains or mesas.
Located beyond the Pavilion, which acts as the architectural focal point of the resort, is an expansive terrace known as the Desert Lounge. This open-air living room with its comfortable seating is an inviting oasis of relaxation and is often used for private receptions, such as wedding celebrations.
The only distraction from the majestic rock formations are the lights of the transcontinental airplanes as they make their way noiselessly across the night sky.
The outdoor swimming pool within the Spa area is shielded from prying eyes with modesty panels made from fir wood. The reflecting pool is bordered by two outdoor treatment terraces.
The Spa offers its guests a range of massages, body and facial treatments as well as hot-stone therapies. The treatments focus on traditional Native American healing methods. Three times a year the Amangiri Resort organises yoga retreats over several days.
The more than 2,300 square metre (25,000 square feet) Spa is divided into several sections, with treatment rooms alternating with outdoor areas. Next to the reception are the personal treatment rooms from which a passage leads to a private courtyard.
Unexpected views of the deserted landscape emerge constantly. Little by little the Spa reveals itself to the visitor — as if embarking on a voyage of discovery through the Canyon.
The design of the Spa at the Amangiri Resort is reminiscent of the region's nearby slot canyons, the sandstone rock canyons with their interplay of light and shade.
The Water Pavilion is at the heart of the Spa, where hydrotherapy treatments are offered. Large wooden doors pivot to reveal a heated step pool and an outdoor lounge area complete with fireplace.
Guests can choose between flotation therapy, which offers relaxed floating in salt-rich water, and a water massage called Watsu in the pool.
The all-year-round heated pool is both the focal point and most eye-catching feature of the Amangiri Resort.
The element of water takes on a special meaning in a desert landscape in particular. The resort blends seamlessly into the topography and the colour display of its environs. The passage leading to the suites within the Desert Wing conveys the impression of a slot canyon created by human hand, on whose walls rivulets and algae create bizarre colour patterns. A custom method was developed for the concrete finishing, which gives the buildings the appearance of cast stone.
The five walnut-lined treatment rooms are illuminated solely by candlelight. And for those who prefer extra light over dim and dusky relaxation, the window can be opened out to the desert in just a flick of the wrist.
The spacious central area of the resort, also known as the Living Room, features grouped seating areas and an open fireplace. Three glass-enclosed alcoves provide sweeping views of the landscape.
This area is also known as the Four Corners, as this is where the four US states of Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado meet. Anyone contemplating an excursion the following day can explore the climbing trails on the surrounding rock formations with a telescope or study maps with hiking and cycling tours.
Built around the main swimming pool, the central Pavilion houses the Living Room, Gallery, Library and Dining Room. Across from here, a 165 million year old stone escarpment juts into the pool.
The resort decorated in ochre tones and its 34 suites, expansive Spa and an approx. 600 square metre private villa is situated on a 243 hectare (600 acre) property.
The Girijaala Suite lies at the end of the Desert Wing and features panoramic views of the Utah desert. Relaxing on the terrace or by the private pool measuring 14 by 4 metres (46 by 12 feet), one can quickly lose oneself in the impressive panorama of the surrounding mesas.
It's worthwhile at sunset to take the stairs leading up to the sky lounge with its two day beds and dining area. Many guests prefer to sleep outdoors beneath the stars during the warm summer months.
When the sunset bathes the vast valley in orange, pink and purple tones, the Desert Lounge that fronts the suites lures guests with its day beds and open fireplace.
Waxed concrete walls, light stone floors, coverings of leather and wood furniture as well as brushed steel fittings borrow from the natural environment and the tradition of the Native American Navajo and Hopi tribes.
Two footpaths lead from the resort's central Pavilion to the suites in the Mesa and Desert Wing. The rectangular shaped wellness centre looms high at the upper end of the Mesa wing – overshadowed by the rock formations behind.
The architecture of the Amangiri Resort expresses the wish of the founder of the Aman Resort, Adrian Zecha, and the architects Rick Joy, Marwan Al-Sayed and Wendell Burnette, to create a homage to the dramatic natural landscape of Utah and the Native American culture.
The buildings therefore blend into the interplay of desert and mesas. The concrete, coloured with local rock, dedicates itself to the geology of the region with its angular minimalism and should "age" with its environment.
Text: Steffan Heuer