Southwest is Best

Craig OuthierMay 1, 2021
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It’s not like Amangiri would have refused your money. But pre-pandemic, back when people traveled as freely as their finances would allow, Arizona was not a big source of revenue for the remote luxury resort just over the Utah border.

“The majority of our clientele, traditionally, are from Los Angeles and New York, and Europe,” Julien Surget, the amiable Swiss expat who serves as Amangiri’s general manager, told me over breakfast during a press visit. “Though Phoenix is not far away, not a bad drive at all, we never saw many visitors from there.”

That says less about Phoenicians and Amangiri than it does about the essential nature of “getaways,” I think. After all, if you’re going to drop the dollar equivalent of a new Hyundai on a vacation, you typically want to swing for the fences and put a few degrees of latitude between your life and your destination, or a hemisphere or two. That – and the $3,000 nightly price tag, I would imagine – is why Valley travelers rarely gave Amangiri a hard look.

Then 2020 happened. With the pandemic came an almost immediate shift in the public’s collective sensibility when it comes to travel. Out: global excursions that require airline flights and mandatory quarantines. In: regional excursions that promise solitude and distancing.

Suddenly, hopping in the sprinter van and exploring the neglected nooks of the Southwest became the fashionable mode of travel for Valley vacationers – which is why we made Arizona, New Mexico and select portions of other neighboring states the focus of the annual summer travel issue you’re about to read.

Doing the via ferrata at Amangiri
Doing the via ferrata at Amangiri

“With the pandemic came an almost immediate shift in the public’s collective sensibility when it comes to travel. Out: global excursions that require airline flights and mandatory quarantines. In: regional excursions that promise solitude and distancing.”

First we recruited Valley-based freelance writer Jessica Dunham, a road trip heavy-hitter who seemingly spends half her time exploring forgotten highways and digging up interesting nuggets of Americana. Then we assembled our editors and made our own picks, settling on the 13 Southwest escapes profiled herein, from Colorado wine country to New Mexico hot springs to my trip to Amangiri (where, yes, I met quite a few fellow Phoenicians).

Designed with clarity and charm by art director Mirelle Inglefield, the feature is a lovely and actionable tribute to the Southwest, but if your summer vacation preferences skew even closer to home, this May/June issue of PHOENIX also includes the 2021 Staycation Guide, featuring every Valley resort – and insanely discounted summer incentive package – we could lay our hands on.

After all, Phoenix is the capital of our great Southwest.

No sprinter van required.

For more than 50 years, PHOENIX magazine's experienced writers, editors, and designers have captured all sides of the Valley with award-winning and insightful writing, and groundbreaking report and design. Our expository features, narratives, profiles, and investigative features keep our 385,000 readers in touch with the Valley's latest trends, events, personalities and places.