wOw’s Gypsy brings us her favorite places in the world to see, sleep, eat, drink and canoodle.
Mary Wells’s No. 2 WOW
There are a lot of wow hotels and spas in this world. People expect at least a little bit of a wow even at low-cost hotels now – a little wow of a spa, a little wow of a gym, a little wow of a view. When my charge cards are paid up in full and I need to travel on business or with my family I look for a Four Seasons Hotel or a Ritz-Carlton because I know that Four Seasons and Ritz-Carltons all over the world will be big or little wows and they’ll be beautiful, well run, nice to my kids and safe. On the other hand, if I am going to the bush in Africa, I would definitely choose a Singita Lodge – one of those impossibly gorgeous architectural masterpiece lodges of Luke Bailes that out-luxes all the 4,500 other lodges. Believe me, an elephant is an elephant, a tiger is a tiger, but the Singita Lodges are different than other lodges. Two are in Sabi Sands and two are in Kruger National Park and now there is a new one that may be the ultimate in bush living, Sweni Lodge hanging over the Sweni River.
However, if what I want is a true WOW, a WOW with an exclamation point, an experience, an adventure I can never forget, I would choose an Aman Hotel. Location! Location! Aman Hotels are always in locations that stun you and educate you and, yes, that you never forget. They are in Bali and Bhutan and Laos and Sri Lanka and Morocco and Siem Reap, Cambodia and China and India and Java and Montenegro and the Philippines and Phuket, Thailand, and now, in the United States at Jackson Hole overlooking the Grand Tetons of Wyoming, where the bison and wild elk and black bears still roam – and where in winter serious skiers spruce up for Olympics.
And now! Oh bless us, now there is a new Aman in all its glory in Utah on the border of Arizona, in the center of the Grand Circle of America’s West – with the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Monument Valley and the Grand Staircase all around, bordering on prime Indian country. The area chosen with typical Aman skill looks like God’s choice for a hideaway. All Aman Hotels have a mystical air that is impossible not to notice no matter what you do or don’t believe about the universe. This Aman feeling comes about because the architecture of each hotel is designed in sympathy with the land it inhabits and the idea of the location. It invites you to become a key element, a player in the idea. Amans are high-luxe hotels, but even though they are designed inside and out with high-quality materials and the absolute last word in effective spas, up-to-date tech and stunning pools, they are the calmest looking hotels you probably have seen. You often feel as if your blood pressure is lowering as a gift to you and that your psyche is cooing. It is the spiritual coupling of Aman location and Aman design that is unique. Many have tried to copy it in different places – with some success – but if you want the WOW experience with the exclamation point go to an Aman.
The name of the Aman resort in Utah bordering Arizona is Amangiri. There is a lot to see in that neighborhood, it deserves time. Here are a few pictures of the outside and inside of this Aman. Maybe you can’t go right now. I can’t go right now. But we can dream, you and I, with the pictures.