Buying into the villa lifestyle

Hotel chains banking on luxury projects in exclusive locales

Occasionally, it's worthwhile to see how the other half lives. When I'm not writing about real estate and finance, I have a secret second life as a travel writer, and in October I was invited to the grand opening of Amanresorts' second property in the United States, Amangiri, located near the Utah-Arizona border. For those of you not familiar with the name, Amanresorts is a Singapore-based hotel chain with a collection of, one might say, intimate retreats. The number of rooms at the new Amangiri totals just 34 guest suites. How can a hotel make money with so few units? At Amangiri, room rates run from $600 to $3,000 a night -- in the off-season! This is not necessarily a turnoff to some people, as the Aman clientele are so loyal they are known as Aman-junkies. This all leads to the other way Aman makes money from its properties: It sells villas. At Amangiri, just a 10-minute drive from spectacular Lake Powell in Arizona and about a half-hour drive from Bryce and Zion nati...