Nature’s Escape

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In Utah, where John Wayne once roamed for Western classics like Stagecoach, is just the spot to hang your hat.

Written by Karine Monié

Deep canyons and mesa rock formations as far as one can see make for a mesmerizing landscape in Utah. A nature lover, John Wayne appeared in several movies filmed in these unique parts, including The Big Trail (1930), Stagecoach (1939) and Fort Apache (1948). Decades on, the beauty of the Utah desert remains downright cinematic.

A young John Wayne plays Breck Coleman on set of The Big Trail, circa 1930. Directed by Raoul Walsh, this was Duke’s first leading role.

A young John Wayne plays Breck Coleman on set of The Big Trail, circa 1930. Directed by Raoul Walsh, this was Duke’s first leading role.

Taking the traditional cowboy “camp” to a level that the roughnecks Wayne portrayed wouldn’t recognize, Camp Sarika by Amangiri is set to open this spring. A 30-minute drive from the town of Page and a scenic five-minute drive from its sister property Amangiri (a modern marvel tucked in a protected valley with sweeping views of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument), Camp Sarika’s remote location hosts a serene encampment of 10 luxurious tented pavilions amid 600 acres of raw wilderness. Decorated with natural materials as an ode to the surrounding landscape, every pavilion comprises a private oversized terrace with a fire pit and an individual heated plunge pool, inviting viewers to admire the breathtaking panorama all day long. In the main pavilion are a few spa suites for treatments inspired by traditional Navajo wellness practices.


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Surrounded as it is by five national parks, several national monuments and the Navajo Nation Reservation, Camp Sarika is, at its core, a call to adventure. Such magical scenery at its doorstep grants guests a variety of Duke-approved outdoor activities such as exploring Lake Powell by boat or the plateau on horseback—as Wayne did—and the opportunity to experience the region like a true cowboy. “Encompassing almost 2,000 miles of shoreline, Lake Powell’s glassy surface mirrors picturesque side canyons and secluded bays with sandy beaches,” says Julien Surget, the general manager of Camp Sarika, who also adds that for an iconic Western experience, guests can go horseback riding through 1,800 acres of horse trails at the foot of the Red Vermillion Cliffs.

“Besides being a dream scene for a cinematographer on par with the likes of John Ford, this setting invites anyone to immediately connect with nature, recalling Wayne’s off-screen lifestyle and career.”

Like an epic John Wayne film, this one’s a classic with a true protagonist: the view. Outside, the undulating surface of the desert and vivid colors that change according to the time of day are captivating. Besides being a dream scene for a cinematographer on par with the likes of John Ford, this setting invites anyone to immediately connect with nature, recalling Wayne’s off-screen lifestyle and career. The actor recharged in nature and enjoyed time with loved ones in a simple way. Certainly he would have appreciated the mission of Camp Sarika, whose name is derived from the Sanskrit word for “open space” and “sky,” and immersed himself in the sublime landscape—one with a peaceful and immediate connection to the dramatic environ. “In naming the camp, there was a strong desire to retain and reflect Aman’s ethos in using Sanskrit,” says Surget. Founded in 1988, the Asian brand comprises a collection of intimate retreats all over the world, instilling a sense of peace and belonging amid exceptional natural settings. Combining serenity with a true sense of adventure, Camp Sarika has everything Wayne would have searched for. Saddle up!


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Photographs courtesy of Aman