Amangiri Executive Chef Anthony Marazita

Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, April 2021

Photos and Story by Gail G. Collins

Framed by the dunes and ridges of the Colorado Plateau, Amangiri blends into the wildscape. Located 25 miles from Page, the secluded resort offsets the raw aesthetic with streamlined elegance. The poured concrete structure of neutral tones and textures takes full advantage of the panorama while affording pared back serenity.

Amangiri opened in 2009 after a six-year building process. Two wings contain 34 suites, many with desert or mesa views, private plunge pools and fireplaces. Its central pool hugs a 65 million-year-old rock outcrop, a setting reminiscent of Horseshoe Bend. Sister property Camp Sarika, Sanskrit for “open sky,” enables wilderness encounters without compromising comfort.

Located on 600 acres in Utah, the resort is within reach of five national parks. Day tripping includes the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon or Monument Valley’s buttes or a splash in Lake Powell. Property adventures offer hiking trails to explore with resident guides, horseback riding and a sunset hot air balloon launch.

An intimate personal journey begins in the spa with the full complement of massages and outdoor treatment terraces, plus flotation and water pavilions with steam, sauna and cold plunge invigoration. Then, indulge the body with nourishing meals that combine Indigenous ingredients with global accents.

Amangiri’s adventurous cuisine is executive chef Anthony Marazita’s signature. 

“The over-tweezed 12-course meal is a thing of the past,” he said. “Simple, but elegant, dishes with high-end quality ingredients—paying homage to a classic meatloaf, for example—that satisfies people.”

The southwest is familiar as the chef grew up in a family restaurant in Reno, Nevada, where he said he fell in love with taking care of people.  

Most kids collected Ninja turtles; Marazita collected cookbooks. The contrasting styles of Charlie Trotter, whose chic presentation established Chicago as a serious dining destination, versus Lyon’s Paul Bocuse with a profound respect for local products and meticulous cooking processes, fascinated him.

The homegrown chef learned from the dishwasher to the line cook on up. From fine dining apprenticeships in Napa and San Francisco in his teens with exposure to international fare through the galleys of lavish hotels on the West Coast to indulging premiere guests at Starwood Hotel and Resort’s St. Regis in Kauai and Sheraton Grand in Scottsdale, Marazita earned his kitchen credentials.

In 2017, the same tug of stark sophistication that draws luxury clients to Amangiri also drew Marazita. With a wife and young daughter, and employed in an industry with high demands on his personal time, a life nestled into nature provides a superior existence. 

The remote locale presents business opportunities and challenges. The biggest is recruiting, and investment in a bullpen to build the team has been key. Stewards become dishwashers, who then train as cooks, fostering skills.

Marazita sources heritage products from local tribes—Navajo, Pima, Maricopa, Akimel O’Odham, Paiute and Hopi—adding a refined twist to classics.

“We embrace customization and cater to that, making dishes approachable,” he said. “Our guests travel the world, and they want simple done right.”

A collaboration of the tribes is best experienced in the Spirit of the Journey tasting. Four courses introduce guests to  k’os, or “flight,” with mesquite-smoked duck breast with petite frisée nest, poached hen’s egg, sweet potato twigs and charred citrus vinaigrette; to`, or “water,” as blue corn polenta with sweet butter poached lobster, goat cheese and fry bread popover; dzeh kayenta, or “hunters pit,” presents a choice of chili-rubbed, crusted elk loin or ruby trout with sweet pea purée; and u`kan, or “sweet one,” closes with a 60-day corn cheesecake with desert pear, hibiscus gloss and saguaro syrup. Wine pairings are available to enhance this eclectic excursion.

A la carte menu options range from starters, such as tepary bean hummus or posole—a green chili stew with native hominy and chemith. Entrées include a poke bowl—furikake sushi rice with big eye tuna, pickled cucumber, avocado, jalapeño, sprouts, smoked chili aioli and sesame seeds—or wood-fired black oak pizzas, like the Basque—house chorizo, San Marzano sauce, Kalamata olives, hearts of artichoke, local chevre and baby arugula.

Now, sit back, sip a cocktail and take in the timeless view. Rejuvenate with revify—Hendrick’s gin, citrusy yuzu, cucumber and cracked pepper, or try a teasing mocktail, like Serenity now—raspberry, lavender, grapefruit soda and sage.

Amangiri appeals to those who wish to escape and enjoy austere magnificence in every way. As general manager Julien Surget reminded, “Reconnect and restore. Amangiri is a healthy blend of adventure in the morning, wellness in the afternoon and beautiful food to cap it off.” Steal away to Amangiri, the Peaceful Mountain. NAMLM