Meet Julien Surget, General Manager of one of the world's most unique hotels

Ochre in the morning light, apricot by midday, dazzling pink at dusk, the geology of the Grand Staircase-Escalante couldn’t be more dramatic. Residing in 600 acres of the Colorado Plateau, and requiring an Act of Congress to be passed so it could be built here, Amangiri blends into countless untouched square miles of red rock country. In the last remnant of the truly wild West, this ‘mountain of peace’ is cradled by the greatest concentration of national parks in the United States – a staggering landscape of canyons, mesas, mountains, gorges, rapids and desert, with traces of human life dating back more than 10,000 years. In this grand theatre of nature, the modernist Suites of Amangiri and the tented Pavilions of nearby Camp Sarika offer an inspiring welcome to one of the world’s most dramatically secluded settings.
We spoke to Julie Surget, General Manager of Amangiri to get all the insider info!

Working at Amangiri seems like a dream! How long have you been at Amangiri? Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you started this journey?

I joined Amangiri almost five years ago, after spending the past 15 years between the east coast of the US and the Caribbean. Originally from Geneva in Switzerland, I followed opportunities from Caribbean destination resorts to great cities like Miami, and more recently Washington DC, before moving to Southern Utah to join Amangiri with Aman.

What’s the best time of year to visit Amangiri?

Every season has its charm here but I have a soft spot for August to November, when the weather is predictably even more beautiful than usual, warm during the day, cooler at night and perfect for all adventures, from Lake Powell to hiking! As we roll in the winter months, the crisp sunny days take over and affords the best hiking weather of the year.

What would be your perfect day at Amangiri?

My perfect day would start with an early rise and introspective moment such as a run, meditation, contemplation of nature, followed by a hearty breakfast for the day ahead. Then lace up for a Via Ferrata which is one of the many on property adventures, a form of rock climbing that will take me climbing the 500-foot peaks located on the property. We’re back at the hotel by lunchtime for a wonderful buffalo chili our Chef has prepared. I would then sneak a few hours by one of our pools and make my way for a red clay wrap at the Spa. Before dinner I will sneak out for an hour to one of our many private viewpoints on property to take in the most extraordinary and beautiful sunset, followed by an entertaining dinner at the Chef’s Counter, where the Chef curates a wonderful tasting menu, inspired by the Native traditions. The stop by our in-house astronomer to stargaze with him for a bit, in awe of the environment we are privileged to be proud stewards of.

Do you have a local’s only tip? e.g. secret excursions, cultural explorations etc?

We have many but they all vary seasonally. Right now the lesser known region called The Cockscomb is incredible. It’s blooming with wildflowers and lush bushes and the moisture in the air brings all the colour of the rocks out. It’s a maze of canyon, buttes and other mounds, making it one of the best places to explore at this time of year. I have been there three weekends in a row of late! Also a great place to go seek out dinosaur fossilized tracks.

Is there something special or interesting about Amangiri that people might not know? e.g. history, design, ethos etc.

What I think extraordinary at Amangiri is the razor thin separation of hotel and nature. While visible in all pictures, the emotional impact of being so close to nature can only be felt once you are on site, walking freely from the room to the desert that surrounds it. The multiple petroglyph panels that date back about 10,000 years are incredibly special too!

Your favourite part/corner/spot in the hotel?

On our recently created Rincon Loop of the Coyote Trail, there is an overlook of the entire north side of the property, from one of the highest elevation on our trail. It’s a new perspective that highlights the expansiveness of the wilderness, all on property.

Go to Cocktail?

A Prickly Pear Margarita… any day!

Your all-time favorite dish?

Chef Marazita prepares a wonderful chile rubbed Elk loin which is some of the most tender game I have had. He pairs it with a ragout called the “three sisters”, which is a native tradition of beans, corn and squash that grow symbiotically on top of each other, hence the three sisters term. All of it is garnished with pickled cactus buds which are also other very unique ingredients typical of Native culinary traditions. Simply delicious.

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

What I think is the most special thing about Amangiri, and the region in general, is the constant reminder of our place in space and time. Wherever you look, you see 165-million year old rock, 10,000 year old rock art panels, you can find out in the open footprints and fossils of dinosaurs that lived 90 million years ago, or the visible fault line of the tectonic plates colliding. It’s a relentless reminder of how old, vast and permanent everything is, except us. It is an inspiring thought that makes one appreciate our corner of the desert even more I believe.