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We may have been off the mark thinking Aman Tokyo wouldn’t make a 2014 opening (it did), but our guess that Aman Resorts was not far off from adding a third hotel in China turned out to pretty accurate: Amandayan, in Lijiang, and Aman number 28, is now open.
Equally, that photo we dug out from the depths of the internet back in October was indeed from inside the all-suite resort. With a total of 35 suites, that’s a few more than the 32 we talked about at the time, but still a very small affair.
‘Dayan’ (lower case in the end in the resort’s name) is the historic name of Lijiang, established in the 13th century by the Southern Song dynasty. The old town of Lijiang, which Amandayan overlooks (see a photo below), is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is in the Yunnan province, which puts it in far southwestern China, towards the border with Myanmar.
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So you’ve checked out the brand new Aman Tokyo and are in need of some tropical island R&R after the metropolitan overload that is the Japanese capital. Where do you go? Head south to the Sulu Sea in the Philippines and you will find sister resort Amanpulo, which offers that mix of blinding white beach-azure blue sea that makes us want to crawl through our laptop screen in the depth of January, but now also has a bunch of new things to check out.
The 42 casitas on the island have gotten a makeover, bringing in new bathrooms (a shot of those below), natural timber ceilings with ceiling fans, new environmentally-friendly recycled polymer roof shingles, and new lighting resulting in four times more light at a 25% reduction in energy consumption. Repairs to the reef on the Eastern side of the island’s lagoon will encourage coral growth and improve the marine life’s habitat.
We'll probably get coal in our stocking for this latest hotel rumor but Santa Claus already has us on the naughty list, so here it goes:
We got this cryptic email in our inbox a few weeks ago that said:
A Very wealthy Russian is in process of buying a number of Aman Hotels, including the renowned Hotel Bora Bora on the island of Bora Bora which was closed completely some 5 years ago. With plans to completely renovate or re-build.
(The emailer also wrote "Arman Hotels" but we've taken the liberty of correcting it to Aman, since surely that's what they were talking about.)
This is interesting because Aman Resorts, a collection of stunning luxury retreats, has been the victim of a nasty business dispute, and subsequent lawsuits in the UK and the US, between Russian billionaire Vladislov Doronin, and troubled financier Omar Amanat, who purchased the hotel brand together during a happier time.
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We were wrong. After a number of delays, and our own gazing up to the top six stories of Otemachi Tower without being able to step inside, we thought Aman Tokyo wouldn’t open this year.
It is. On Monday, December 22, the first city Aman will be here
It is. On Monday, December 22, the first city Aman will be here, and we have some truly luscious photos for you to drool over too. If ever you’ve had a fantasy of staying in a hyper-modern, minimalist penthouse in the sky, floating above the city, start scouting for tickets to Tokyo now (we were just there and confess to doing a quick fare search already). Here’s what else you need to know: Aman Tokyo is the beginning of a new chapter for Aman, with discussions in progress for “city retreats” in New York, London, Paris, and Singapore.
The photo above is of the soaring atrium, up thirty-plus stories from the city’s business district. Nearly 30 meters high, it’s been designed to resemble the interior of a Japanese paper lantern. For a sense of scale, spot one of the chairs next to the pillars on the far left. We love the deep grey stone, the wood (Camphor wood, so we’ve learned), and the simplicity of the furniture design.
While Venice and Vietnam got their Aman Resort in 2013, the openings we so optimistically wrote about for China and Jordan never materialized. Another year on, and we’re still waiting, but just like that we stumbled onto two things for one of them: a recruitment ad and an interior image.
This page has the ad for an Executive Assistant Manager (Rooms) at AmanDayan, the 32-suite resort on Lion Hill in the ancient city of Lijiang, in China’s Yunnan province. While the ad refers to it without the capital letter, we were explicitly told at the time that AmanDayan is how it should be spelled. We’re going to liberally take the closing date of mid-November as a sign that the resort is nearing completion, so perhaps we’ll see an early 2015 opening?
Diving a bit further down the rabbit hole that is the internet, we came upon the above photo here, in a post now about a year old. While we’d take it with a grain of salt, the design does strike us as being very Aman, so who knows. We’re hoping to get some more detail soon, so stay tuned.
Meanwhile, further east in Japan, we wouldn’t hold our breath for a 2014 opening of Aman Tokyo either – expect that to be a 2015 affair too. When we have more detail, we'll be sure to let you know.
[Photo: Weibo via Flyertalk, JasonD]
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Aman Resorts might be known for its luxury resorts in exotic locations, but the hotel group should be branching out to its first true city hotel this year, after dipping its toe in the somewhat urban water – quite literally as it were – in Venice.
And where better to take the next step than Tokyo, a metropolis if there ever was one? We had hoped Aman Tokyo would have been open by the time we were in Japan, but pre-summer became post-summer as it tends to do for hotel openings, with the latest we’ve heard being sometime in September. We did walk over to The Otemachi Tower complex that the hotel will be part of to get a sense of its setting, so read on for a first impression.
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Usually major metropolitan areas are where you’ll find every hotel brand under the sun close together, but in a few years’ time there might be a very unlikely contender for having one of the largest concentrations of different hotel brands in the world: a master development in Portugal, roughly 50 miles south of capital Lisbon.
If one day a reality, we couldn’t name anywhere else that boast hotels from Hilton, Marriott, Four Seasons, Park Hyatt, Raffles, Fairmont, Aman, and Six Senses, all cosily together on the peninsula across the water from Setúbal and further down the Alentejo coastline – yet that is what the above map calls for.
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Amanyara, Turks & Caicos
We might have only gotten two out of four hoped-for openings from Aman Resorts last year (that would be Aman Canal Grande in Venice and Amano’i in Vietnam), but despite the wait for Lijiang (China) and Jordan, we’ll continue to keep an eye out for anywhere else Aman might be popping up in the (near) future.
One likely destination is the Dominican Republic, which would make it the second Aman in the Caribbean, next to Amanyara in the Turks & Caicos. Rather than the popular eastern region of Punta Cana, the hotel will be part of the Playa Grande development on the northern coast, east of Puerto Plata and kitesurfer’s paradise Cabarete.
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The Regent Montenegro
There’s tons of hotel news flying around at the moment, so we have another roundup of news bites for you today to get you up to speed on the latest from Oman to Cambodia and China to Argentina.
Starting with the Arab sultanate of Oman, its newspaper Muscat Daily (Muscat is the capital) reports that the country will have the first Aman Resort in the Middle East, in the remote coastal town of Shuwaimiya. The developer of the eco-resort has confirmed Aman Resorts will open, with the hotel group so far taking a confirm-nor-deny approach. Whether or not it will be the first in the Middle East remains to be seen, based on what we hear about an opening in Jordan.
By the end of the summer, Aman Resorts will be crossing off another hotel opening of its to-do list for this year: Amano’i, its brand new resort on scenic Vinh Hy Bay in Vietnam will have the first lucky guests jumping in that gorgee-ous infinity pool on September 1.
Combining the usual Aman (Sanskrit for ‘peace’) and no’i (‘place’ in Vietnamese), Amano’i sits on the coast northeast of Ho Chi Minh City. There are just 31 pavilions and five villas, with arrival happening at a central pavilion on the hilltop, offering in-your-face views of the coastline.
We’ve shown that you get whisked around Amanpuri in open-air comfort, but what is it like to spend the night here, the original Aman Resort on the western coast of Phuket? This is a case of letting the pictures doing most of the talking, but there are definitely a few things that stood for us.
You’ll find Amanpuri on Pansea Beach, a thirty-minute drive from Phuket airport, which in turn is just under two hours flight from Bangkok, the Thai capital. Architecturally, this has to be one of the most impressive resorts we’ve stayed at recently. Forty individual pavilions are scattered across a hillside, tumbling down to the Andaman Sea. The driveway swoops down to the open air lobby, just beyond is a long midnight-blue tiled swimming pool, and wide steps take you down to the white powdery beach. The timelessness of it all (Amanpuri was constructed in 1988), is really refreshing in an age where we see lots of hotel design that wears out within a matter of years.
The hotel bike might be the ubiquitous amenity these days for tooling around town or the resort grounds, but in certain climates – and hilly terrains – a less strenuous alternative might be preferable.
We came across the perfect solution recently at Amanpuri – the original Aman Resort – in blisteringly hot Phuket, where getting around is both a breeze and breezy, courtesy of a fleet of semi-open buggies fashioned out of ripped up Nissans. Available any time at the main entrance or just a call away, you can be whisked to your room, back to the lobby and the main pool, down to the beach club, up to the spa, or to the top-of-the-hill gym with endless views over the surrounding area.