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Utah Travel Headlines

Monday, March 29, 2010

Amangiri Resort Brings Sophistication to Lake Powell

Luxurious resorts are changing the landscape in southern Utah, from Monument Valley to Lake Powell. This article in the NY Times talks about the trend, and the changes. It mentions The View Hotel in Monument Valley but focuses on the new, posh Amangiri Resort near Lake Powell. Below are excerpts.

Perhaps the most precarious part of opening a place like this, on the border of the country’s largest American Indian reservation, is “melding in,” as Adrian Zecha, the founder of Amanresorts, told me. “The elders expected we were building a Las Vegas-style hotel. They were relieved when they realized we are sympathetic to the land.” Incorporating Navajo tradition is a key element of the property. The solemn confines of the spa, for example, hold a sage-burning fireplace; its square skylights evoke a Navajo hogan. Glenda Bennett, a young Navajo spa therapist, sought the blessing of the elders as she helped design some of the treatments. (About one-tenth of the resort’s staff go home to the reservation each night.) She explained all this as we sat by the fire and she scooped some smoking ashes into a shell, signaling the beginning of “serious talk.”

These days, spectacular houseboats — rented out regularly to folks like Barbra Streisand — line the docks of the new $35 million Antelope Point Marina. I spent part of the day on a 75-foot boat with coffered ceilings and a roof with a bar on top, reading the diary of John Wesley Powell, the one-armed Civil War veteran who ran the Colorado and scaled the “carved walls, royal arches, glens, alcove gulches, mounds and monuments” of which I had a spectacular view from the houseboat’s hot tub. I felt like a sellout, so I turned up the bubbles.

As nostalgic as I am for the Lake Powell of my youth, the reality is that this place is in far better shape than it was when I camped its shores. During the 1990s, parts of the lake were closed temporarily due to E. coli contamination. Today the National Park Service coordinates volunteers who pick up an average of 50,000 pounds of garbage every year. Nearby, Lake Powell Resort is renovating, turning recycled glass into bathroom countertops and used plastic into deck topping.

Twist Thompson, who co-owns the Blue Buddha Sushi Lounge across the street from the museum, said Page had the potential to be the “next Moab,” if its town elders would allow newcomers to “sexy up” Main Street...

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