'Ritziest resort' caters to Utah guests with 'yen' for privacy

Published: Friday, May 2 2014 5:27 p.m. MDT

"It's powerful," McBride said. "It can touch people in some pretty special ways. And so all we have to do is put them in this powerful landscape and we change lives."

The guest suites — in spite of their bare concrete walls — are invitingly decorated with splendid furnishings and beautifully crafted fixtures. Guests in the higher-priced suites can luxuriate in their own private swimming pool or their own scenic outdoor lounge area. If they climb a few stairs, they can even stretch out on a bed in their own private sky terrace.

"Guests have an opportunity to spend the night out here and just enjoy the stars," McBride said.

The price for those suites is a mere $3,600 per night, plus the cost of meals. Under a new rate structure going into effect June 15, the cost of meals will be included in the nightly rate. That will raise the price of the sky-terrace suites to $4,100 per night.

"Nobody really pays that kind of money for a bed," McBride said. "It's (for) the experience that you get when you spend time here."

For those on a budget, there is a cheaper alternative. Some suites are only $1,100 per night, although they're going up to $1,500 per night under the new meals-included plan.

At the other end of the resort's expensive spectrum of prices, there's a four-bedroom house that rents for $7,500 a night. It goes up to $8,000 per night on June 15.

The resort itself is almost always full — even the four-bedroom house is rented most of the time — yet the resort never advertises.

"No we do not," Olivro said. "Aman philosophy is the word-of-mouth."

Aman resorts all over the world are certainly known for extreme prices, but they are also prized by some guests because of their extreme commitment to privacy. Amangiri Resort does not — repeat, does not — drop any names. But gossip in the nearby towns of Big Water, Utah, and Page, Ariz., includes celebrity names like Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Natalie Portman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Katy Perry, Brad Paisley and Keith Richards, among many others.

To the outside world, Amangiri is almost invisible a few miles away from Lake Powell, tucked away behind massive cliffs. A small, easily overlooked sign that says "Amangiri" marks the turnoff from Highway 89. A paved side-road leads to an old gate that looks like it might be the entry to a broken-down ranch.

"Behind the scenes, I can assure you that there's lots of security going on," McBride said. "But it's done very discreetly so nobody really sees what's happening."

Guests typically fly into the Page airport, often in private jets. A fleet of BMWs is available to chauffeur guests across the border into Utah.

Amangiri has created a network of companies in the area that provide recreation for the guests. The activities range from hiking and boating to hot-air ballooning. McBride said the resort can set up just about any recreational experience a guest can dream up, as long as they're willing to pay for it.

A chef and his kitchen crew are able to tailor the cuisine for each guest. "Are they particular? Yes," said Shon Foster, the resort's executive chef. "We have educated palates here, people that have gotten to experience everything, everywhere. They've seen the best of the best."

Meals can be taken in a communal dining room that has stunning views of the surrounding scenery. If guests prefer, though, staff members can prepare and serve individual meals in a guest's private suite.

"So when people come here," Foster said, "we create experiences that are not just once-in-a-lifetime, but absolutely unforgettable."

Email: hollenhorst@deseretnews.com

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