The Aman brand is synonymous with luxury and service in Asia. I alas have never been to one if their Asian properties, only the Turks and Utah. There are some aspects of the brand that just don't translate to North America.
I would say the Amangiri suffers from two problems shared with the Amangani. First is the plain idiotic design of the bathrooms in an open plan. This assures no audio or visual privacy or insulation, leading to at best waking up your partner if you use the bathroom at night, and at worst embarrassment if things get a little noisy. That may be TMI, but it's a fact and it's aggravating. The "barn door" design of the toilet doors at Amangiri could not be louder or worse. Squeaking, banging and impossible to keep open, yet affording no privacy. Just horrible. Also, the vanity lights are some bizarre yellow bulb that cast the most unflattering pallor I've ever seen. It was World War Z for my wife to do makeup and not think she looked like a zombie.
That aside, the rooms are lovely and luxurious, and the small ethanol-fueled fire box on the narrow terrace on the desert was a nice touch, if not as sensuous as a wood fireplace... Of course wood has to be trucked in and is relatively dirty. The tiny plunge pool was pleasant, and we did spend one night trying to sleep on the rooftop bed made up under the stars, but the wind drove us back inside at 2 am.
The other fault of the two Amans was what I would call a combination of poor intra-staff communication, and too many people trying to do everything. We had major issues, as we had come out solely to hike the National Parks and they were closed. Of course, Aman has an insanely punitive cancellation policy, so we couldn't reschedule. I sent advance messages to plan alternative activities, but no one toon ownership, and little planning was done.
So, day one, our hot air ballooning was cancelled for wind, even though the morning dawned bright and totally still. We were informed the balloon provider decided to take the week off, so there was no chance of rescheduling. Then, our guide hadn't done his research on what would be oopen or closed, and we headed out for a full day hike. 40 minutes by car out he discovered he'd been given the wrong info and thought it was a half day. He insisted on driving back for our packed lunch, even though I urged him to just stop and pick up a couple of sandwiches. He ignored me, and thus we were an hour in the car before even leaving the property for the day. After a 40 minute walk to see some cliff drawings, he flagged down a ranger who was technically not even on duty, and volunteered our destination. The ranger told him that technically that canyon was closed, but no one would be working. So, our guide refused to go there, now that he had been informed it was closed, lest he somehow be discovered and punished. That blew up plans B and C so we would up driving another 2 hours for a mediocre hour slot canyon hike and stop for lunch at 230 and then the 90+ minute drive home. That was $1200 for almost five hours of driving, mostly over bumpy dirt roads, a chicken Caesar roll, and less than two hours of completely challenge-free hiking. The day was a total bust. Had he kept his mouth shut we might have had a great hike, but he had to blab. I spoke to some other guests who had gone to the exact canyon on their own and had a great day. Their hike was free, too. Our mistake for hiring an Aman guide, at insane prices, only to get completely hosed.
The next day, I gave up and sprung for a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon. It was great. Later, I discovered the aman first marked up the tour about $1000 more than the company charges normally, and then added a $500 activity fee. So we had a $6000 90 minute helicopter ride. Awesome.
We spent the rest of our time hiking around the vast and fun paths on the property and adjacent. There was no need to have wasted the money on a guide... That was our mistake as we'd known to hike Bryce and Zion with a guide is much better. When Obama care ditched that plan, we should have just gone on our own recognizance.
The food at the Amangiri is taken very seriously. And it is good, but far from great. Every single dish was vastly over salted at three dinners. We both live for salt. I kid my wife if she'd like some fries with her salt at home. The open kitchen at the a man is cool and the dishes imaginative, but someone needs to control the sodium a bit. Clearly, no one is tasting things before they go out. The curried spinach side was so salty it burned my tongue and was inedible. We didn't complain, because we'd had enough issues with the busted activities we didn't want to keep being difficult. And as an aside on service, bizarrely at the pool, twice we had to get up and go inside to order drinks because no one even peeked out for twenty minutes or more.
Scheduling spa services was hard. We were told that they only had two massage therapists on duty all day. So we adapted our schedule to theirs. Both massages we got were great though.
The Aman is in an incredible setting and there is no need to go off property to get in a challenging hike. I would make it a destination, not a base, were we to return, and stay closer to the parks to hike them. A The service is a bit disjointed if incredibly pleasant and well meaning. The activities organization is still evolving, as amanagement clearly did not anticipate the property being seen as a base for touring the area every day. They did not do a good job of scrambling to adjust for the parks closure, and we spent almost $10k to make up for it. That's insane, and I'm almost embarrassed to admit it.
If you go,book your spa and activities well in advance. Don't eat gassy food, and bring earplugs if your partner gets up at night to use the bathroom. Make sure to ask the kitchen to moderate their salting.
I still loved the place despite some shortcomings, and forgive most of them as the government's fault. But a luxury resort has to step up it's game when things out if their control go sideways. The Aman wasn't quite up to the task.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Amangiri (peaceful mountain) is located on 600 acres in Canyon Point, Southern Utah. The resort is tucked into a protected valley with sweeping views towards the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Built around a central swimming pool with spectacular views, the resort blends into its dramatic surrounds of deep canyons and towering plateaus. Amangiri's Aman Spa features a floatation therapy pavilion, a water pavilion with sauna, steam room, cold plunge pool and step pool, a fitness centre and a yoga pavilion. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Amangiri Hotel Big Water
- Amangiri Utah/Big Water