The Colorado Plateau is a broad, high tableland that sprawls around the Four Corners, the Euclidean point where Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico touch right angles. It’s a land of spectacular eroded rock formations, pages of the geological past stretching back 180 million years. They reveal (to the trained eye) the violent upthrusting 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. They are why the region contains the greatest concentration of National Parks and National Monuments in the country.

What brought The Hotel Detective to the Plateau is Amangiri, a resort that puts you right in the middle of this ancient splendor while offering a contemporary take on luxury in its accommodation, service, and food. Amangiri, which means “peaceful mountain,” is one of the newest outposts of Aman Resorts, the Singapore-based company that specializes in developing small, exclusive resorts in extraordinary and often out-of-the-way places. Adrian Zecha, its founder and a native of Indonesia, changed the face of resort conception and design in Asia and, through copy-cats, throughout the world. When the history of 20th-century luxury travel is written, Aman will have a chapter to itself.


Not that this Aman resort is remote: It’s only a 20-minute drive from the Glen Canyon Dam end of Lake Powell and a 4.5-hour-drive (reportedly gorgeous) from Las Vegas. Private is more like it. The resort sits in a cliff-curve—curl your hand and place it on its side and you’ll have a good idea of the locale—and the rooms look out across a sea of sand billows to Studhorse Mesa and, in the distance, the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, a distance of some 50-80 million years, geologically speaking. Even if you haven’t been here you may have seen the property, as it was used as a setting in “Broken Arrow,” in which a renegade strategic bomber pilot (John Travolta) highjacks a nuclear weapon and then tries to use it to blackmail the US government.
As old as this west is, there’s nothing old west about the architecture and design of Amangiri (no bleached cattle skulls here). It’s a resort of concrete geometric planes that stand out against the swerving shoulders of rock, but seems perfectly in place.