You're sure to find an experience exploring Utah that will exceed your expectations.
Whether you're more comfortable lounging by a pool, rafting down a scenic river or hitting the slopes with a knowledgeable instructor, it's a dream holiday if you add a dose of luxury. It looks like a toast of champagne along a river bank, getting to know celebrities at a film festival and soaking in a hot tub aboard a yacht.
Hiding out at Amangiri in Canyon Point
Like a mirage, Amangiri blends right in with its desert surroundings near the Arizona-Utah border. Hidden among ancient mesas and rock formations, the 600-acre property is so secluded and so focused on relaxation that you don’t have much of a choice but to sit back and allow yourself to slip into a state of near-constant meditation.
Each room at Amangiri has its own private courtyard entry, exquisite furnishings and massive glass doors that open onto an outdoor living space with resting mattresses, a fireplace and a human-free view of the surrounding wilderness. The grounds have several marked trails for hiking, plus a few naturalists and archaeology/geology experts on hand to help you understand what you’re looking at as you go. Multiple guided via ferrata routes access summit views that aren’t available to hikers.
After your excursions, the Aman Spa, a 2,323-square-meter luxury relaxation zone, will lower your heart rate back to normal. If the deep-tissue massages and plunge pools don’t do the trick, get in their Floatation Therapy Pavilion for a dose of sensory deprivation.
Amangiri Resort in Grand Staircase Escalante National Park
Getting wined and dined on the Colorado River
There’s only one thing that improves a day of rafting the Colorado, staring up at Canyonlands National Park’s huge red canyon walls and detouring to hike to nearby Native American ruins, hidden beaches and less-accessible canyons: knowing you won’t be pitching your own tent that night.
Starting with a leisurely introduction to the Colorado River on Day 1, Sheri Griffith Expeditions' luxury river tour of Cataract Canyon kicks an indulgent river-rafting tour. While you’re exploring the alien-like rock formations and grabbing a drink on the sand, the tour’s staff is handling the transformation of your river camp into a river resort.
Get used to it. For the next several nights, you'[ll have a baffling moment staring at your dinner plate and wondering how the river chef prepared this meal in the wilderness. Then, a second moment of confusion when you’re presented with wine pairings, which you’ll consume by candlelight while sitting at an actual table. Lunches are similarly gourmet, as are hors d’oeuvres, freshly baked desserts and every morning’s hot breakfast.
After dark, you can chat up the on-staff area expert to learn more about your surroundings or just tuck in early in the sleeping quarters that were set up when you weren’t looking – complete with bedding, bedside tables and night lights. During the days, you’ll be guided via river by Utah’s famous arches and canyon ridges, including Dead Horse Point, Airport Tower, Lockhart Canyon, and Lathrup Canyon. After being tossed around by whitewater rapids in Cataract Canyon, the tour reaches Lake Powell, and you’ll be flown back to Moab on a scenic flight over the White Rim, Henry Mountains and other Colorado Plateau features.
Rafting along the Colorado River in Moab with Sheri Griffith River Expeditions
Skiing Deer Valley with an Olympic medalist
A short drive from Salt Lake City, and once the site of the Winter Olympics, lies the slopes of Deer Valley Ski Resort. Just skiing at Utah’s Deery Valley is pretty luxurious in itself. From the second you pull up to the property, one of Deer Valley’s curbside ski valets meets you to relieve you of your gear. Then there are the attendants who preemptively brush snow and ice from your chairlift benches before you sit down, the ever-present staff members directing you exactly where you want to go, and of course the lift-line Kleenex stations. Everything at Deer Valley, from the on-site artisan cheese-maker to the wood-paneled bathrooms, is designed to make you feel important.
But you can still take it up a notch by staying at the St. Regis Deer Valley overnight. Here, another famous set of people-pleasers—the St. Regis butlers and concierges—will follow up on your every demand, any time of day or night. Even when it involves delivering an Olympic medalist to the slopes to take you out on an excursion.
The St. Regis Deer Valley Ski Ambassador program features Olympic and U.S. ski team members who will treat you to a day on the slopes, where you can pretend to also have what it takes to earn a medal. After $2,400 worth of the instructor trying to make you a better skier and showing you around favorite Deer Valley spots, it’s back to the patio at the St. Regis for a glass of champagne.
Deer Valley Ski Resort
Going all out at Sundance
The Sundance Film Festival – one of the biggest and most influential independent film fests on the face of the planet takes place in Park City, Utah, where 200 films are screened each winter.
But where to stay? In the middle of Historic Park City, the Washington School House is the pinnacle of luxury and centrally located to the best of Sundance, while also functioning as an elegant-but-not-overly-stuffy retreat from the scene when needed. After standing in two-hour lines in the Utah winter and negotiating your entry into celebrity parties, retiring to the property’s private dining room and fireside lounge – open only to guests of the hotel’s 12 rooms – is like returning to the safety of the womb.
And you can go one further with membership to the Sundance Patron Circle. For an incredibly generous donation to the Sundance Institute, you’ll receive copious numbers of film screening tickets and credentials, attend private screenings and receptions with filmmakers, and get in hassle-free to the opening and closing ceremonies, a true ‘"insider" experience of this iconic cultural event.
Bustling Main Street in Park City, home of the Sundance Film Festival
Unplugging at Red Mountain Resort
Southern Utah’sRed Mountain Resort is all about relaxation and being in nature. Its self-contained, remote location means you don’t have to plan anything. The prepackaged excursions cover guides, transportation and snacks, and retreat packages include three healthy meals per day along with a mix-and-match assortment of fitness classes, guided hikes and excursions, cooking demonstrations, spa packages and “personal discovery” experiences. There are over 50 fitness class options available each week, but feel free to spend your entire trip sitting in one of the many swimming pools.
Excursions are varied enough that you can follow up a day of hardcore athleticism – mountain biking around Zion National Park or canyoneering – with a day checking out the local wild mustangs, getting a one-on-one photography lesson or taking dogs from nearby Ivins City Animal Shelter out for a hike.
The on-site “Adventure Concierge” can also arrange a round of golf at the nearby Ledges Golf Club. The course, designed by Matt Dye, is surrounded by red sandstone mountains and lava rock, so your 18 holes can totally double for some time spent checking out Utah’s scenery, especially the epic view of Snow Canyon State Park from the back 9.
Cycling in a cottonwood forest in Zion National Park
Yachting on Lake Powell
A huge amount of the land surrounding Lake Powell isn’t accessible by car; it’s the lake itself that serves as the road to many of the natural landmarks and features in the area. To reach Lake Powell’s most remote Martian-like canyons, you’ll need water transport.
The Axiom Star Lake Houseboat is hands-down the most luxurious way to explore Lake Powell’s 1,960 miles of shoreline. The yacht rental from Bullfrog Marina includes a personal captain, so all you have to do is dictate where the boat should dock next, then sip champagne on the top deck while watching the red sandstone cliffs and arches pass by.
Each of the 20-meter yachts has four staterooms (all with a flat-screen and queen-size bed), two full-and-fancy bathrooms, kitchen, dining area, living room, screened-in upper deck, barbecue grill, waterslide and eight-person hot tub.
Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas’ yacht package also includes a powerboat or a couple of personal watercraft so you can park the yacht and make a faster and more adrenaline-fueled escape into some of the lake’s narrower slot canyons. Check out West Canyon, where you’ll probably end up abandoning your watercraft to stand slack-jawed and teary-eyed looking at a ray of sunlight dropping into the canyon or a waterfall sliding into a hidden pool.
Yachts docked on Lake Powell for sunset