New Villa and Tent Design Dimensions for Amangiri: An Interview With Homi Vazifdar
For those of us who have lived in the high desert and camped in the red rock country of Southern Utah, we understand its magic. We understand why many of the great belief systems of both the cultures of East and West were borne in the desert, as you can almost hear whispers of Deity, punctured through the sanctified silence. We also understand, when spending time at the Escalante Staircase, or the Vermilion Cliffs, our miniscule place in the trajectory of history, resting amid billion year old sculpted rocks, along paths trod first by dinosaurs. We never thought that this land could be used for anything commercial. And yet, on a rock escarpment, under the the spangled scarf of the Milky Way, lies Amangiri.
The name, Amangiri, is derived from Sanskrit, meaning 'peaceful mountain.' It is the latest offering from Aman Resorts, and is located in a very unusual place -- in the center of the Grand Circle, surrounded by the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Grand Staircase – Escalante, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. It is in the Red Rock country of Southern Utah, and has one of the most dramatic, colorful, yet mysterious and isolated topographies anywhere. This ancient part of the world encompasses and projects the natural (versus cultural) meaning of luxury – involving time's irrelevance, desert peace, and needful human anonymity gratefully experienced under the cliffs and stars.
Opened in October of 2009, Amangiri was in the planning and building stages for about ten years, as it was in such an isolated place, located on 600 acres, at Canyon Point in Southern Utah. Even though the altitude is about 4000 feet above sea level, the resort lies in a valley, near the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and is about 15 minutes east of Lake Powell. Architecturally, the resort has been created to blend into the rock escarpments of the area, and the materials used in its building reflect a similar kind of elegant sparsity. Exterior and interior walls are made of integrated concrete mixed with sandstone, pebbles, stones, and clay from the region. Amangiri could be arguably called a resort escarpment, in that it looks as if it naturally belongs where it is.
"The original vision was Christoph Henkel's, "said Homi Vazifdar, the CEO of Canyon Equity, a California based Real Estate development firm. It was Canyon Equity along with AmanResorts, that operationalized Henckel's vision. " It took a long time, over ten years, to acquire and build on this land, as it was originally land that the US Government owned. But Christophe showed it to me back in 1999-2000, then to Adrian Zecha, the founder of AmanResorts. We understood how this exceptional topography could attract discriminating visitors. We realized how they could be renewed and re-purposed by the peace of the area, and could begin a journey of personal transformation that only this environment can provide."
When Amangiri opened, the original idea was to have most of the Villas be sold very soon thereafter but because of the economy, multiple villa construction was put on hold.
" But we will complete construction on the first Villa, early in 2011." continued Homi. " We always wanted the Villa component to be an active adjunct to our resort, mainly to create a sense of community, but also because there are many who like to stay in a residence separate from others, for longer periods of time, but still have resort amenties close by. The Villa component is under way now, and we project they will be sold and finished --all 28 of them -- by 2013. The pricing ranges from the mid $7M to between $14-15M. They are based on the 4 bedroom/four bath model (images below), and range in square footage is from 7500 square feet to much larger villas, on over an acre.
"But there is one more experience we are adding and will be ready to use in May. And those are the TENTS! You see, we have over 600 acres still on the Amangiri property. So, we have between five and six areas where we are discreetly placing these high end, rustic,luxurious, two bedroom tents. We think the tent experience will be wonderful for couples, families, anyone who would want to feel far from civilization and nearer to the stars."