IF YOUR IDEAL GET­AWAY IS IN THE MID­DLE OF NOWHERE...

ELLE (Canada) - - Lifestyle -

I’M TER­RI­BLE WITH di­rec­tions, and driv­ing out­side city lim­its causes vi­sions of hor­ror-movie scenes and se­rial killers to dance in my head, so when a staff mem­ber buzzes me through the rus­tic-chic gates of Aman­giri re­sort in ru­ral south­ern Utah, I’m prac­ti­cally re­hears­ing my “driver of the year” ac­cep­tance speech.

Then I get lost. Aman­giri is lo­cated on the Colorado Plateau, a pris­tine desert in the Amer­i­can south­west, so it’s dark out—like, 2003-On­tar­i­oblack­out kind of dark. I inch my car for­ward along the miles of wind­ing lanes on the prop­erty, re­as­sur­ing my in­creas­ingly pan­icked self that I’ll even­tu­ally be found by the staff. Fi­nally, I make the cor­rect turn and the re­sort shim­mers in front of me, its sun-bleached walls ris­ing out of the sage and brush in per­fect har­mony with the sand­stone mesa.

It’s re­ally hid­den—which is kind of the point. Aman­giri’s iso­lated sur­round­ings make it a favourite of celebs seek­ing a re­prieve from thirsty pa­parazzi. (You may rec­og­nize it as the back­drop for many a Kar­dashian fam­ily trip. And Rosie Hunt­ing­ton-White­ley vis­ited a few days af­ter me.) The min­i­mal­ist de­sign has prac­ti­cal pur­poses too. The re­sort, built in 2009, was de­signed to have as lit­tle im­pact on the sur­round­ing moon­like land­scape as pos­si­ble. It was ac­tu­ally built around the ter­rain—specif­i­cally, a gi­ant out­crop­ping now in the cen­tre of the prop­erty. Leg­end has it that Adrian Zecha, co-founder of the re­sort’s par­ent com­pany, Aman, was hik­ing in the area when he saw a curved, jut­ting rock and said, “We’ll put the pool here.” (He has since sold his stake in the com­pany.)

Af­ter my nav­i­ga­tion fail, I’m con­tent to just drop my stuff and spend the next few days re­lax­ing on a lounger near the heated wa­ter, but in Utah, hik­ing is a re­li­gion—and it turns out I’m an easy con­vert. The next day, af­ter a sun­rise yoga ses­sion that I sur­prise my­self by wak­ing up for, I call upon my in­ner Ch­eryl Strayed and join a guide on an hour-long hike to a cave that con­tains pro­tected 8,000-year-old relics from in­dige­nous tribes who used to live here. (More­hard­core ex­cur­sions are avail­able. This part of Utah, near the Ari­zona bor­der, has the high­est con­cen­tra­tion of na­tional parks in the United States.)

All this ac­tiv­ity leaves me with sore mus­cles—or at least that’s what I tell my­self as I head to the Aman spa for a deep-tis­sue mas­sage and sauna. Be­cause Aman­giri is built on Navajo land, the treat­ments in­cor­po­rate trad­itional Navajo heal­ing prac­tices, like smudg­ing, taught to the staff by lo­cal elders.

This con­nec­tion to the earth in quiet soli­tude and re­flec­tion is ex­actly what Aman­giri is all about. There are just 35 suites on the prop­erty. Staff out­num­ber guests by four to one and are at the ready to ac­com­mo­date any ask. (One drove an hour into town to get a guest a charger. And they even cleaned the Star­bucks cups out of my car.) But it’s the views that re­ally get to you. I’ve never felt so small and unim­por­tant—and I mean that in a good way. On my fi­nal day, I wake up early to watch the sun rise over the craggy desert be­fore hop­ping in my car and re­luc­tantly driv­ing to the air­port. This time, I’m hop­ing I get lost so maybe I can just stay here for­ever. CARLI WHITWELL h

HOW TO GET TO AMAN­GIRIYou can land your he­li­copter on-site. There’s also a mu­nic­i­pal air­port about 30 min­utes away if you want to take your jet out for a spin. Or you can fly to Vegas and drive four hours through ter­rain that dates back 165 mil­lion years. I rec­om­mend de­tour­ing through Zion Na­tional Park for the larger-than-life views. I also stopped at Co­ral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, named for its pretty pink­ish sand.De­cem­ber is low sea­son and a bit chilly (around 0˚C) but noth­ing like Cana­dian win­ters. Your best bet is April or May, be­fore it gets too hot and tourists flood the na­tional parks. Utah is a Mor­mon state, so you can’t or­der al­co­hol un­less you or­der food too. This is not the place to re­live spring break. WHEN TO TRAVEL DON’T FOR­GET

Clock­wise, from far left: Views of the Colorado Plateau from the lounge; one of 35 suites; It hik­ing spot An­te­lope Canyon; the Aman spa; a sus­pen­sion bridge near the re­sort; the fa­mous pool; the yoga stu­dio, where daily classes are held; a bird’s-eye view of the re­sort; one of many pri­vate loungers

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