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It was peace and water earlier this month, when Aman Resorts announced Amanera, steps away from the Caribbean ocean on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. Today, it is peace (Aman) and joy (nemu), with the news that the group will open a second hotel in Japan early next year: Amanemu.
On Honshu, the same island where you will find Tokyo (including Aman Tokyo), Osaka, Kyoto, and Nagoya, Amanemu will have 24 suites and two villas along Ago Bay on the Shima peninsula, each with its own private onsen (mineral hot spring).
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Northwest Europe is going through a heatwave this week (or as most other places would call it, “summer”), but Aman Resorts is with you if you’re thinking ahead to your winter break to the sun: Amanera, its resort in the Dominican Republic, will open towards the end of 2015.
Above the view that will greet you from one of only 25 casitas the resort will have, with this particular setting reserved for one of 13 that have their own 10-metre private swimming pools. Their “raw, organic design” is meant to complement the natural setting, and each has a flat, biodiverse roof with a garden to help cool the interiors and be eco-conscious at the same time.
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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]
UPDATE, 9.30.14:The wedding was held at the Aman Canal Grande with a brunch to celebrate the couple the following day at the Belmond. As you were.
Lately, our issues with the water world city that is Venice, Italy have been centered around lackluster hotel design and obscene prices. But when you're George Clooney on the eve of your nuptials, none of that even enters your mind. Or so we imagine.
Clooney and his betrothed, Amal Allamuddin, are set to marry this weekend in Venice and according to the Telegraph UK, speculation about where the couple will marry is in "overdrive." Here's the top contender for the wedding site:
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Scouring around for information about the forthcoming JW Marriott Venice yesterday, we stumbled upon a rather exciting piece of news: Rocco Forte is planning to open a hotel in Venice.
According to La Nuova, RF himself said that Venice is “attractive” (no, really?), and that he’s looking for a property. The only problem is:
Venetian palazzos are small, and it’s difficult to find space for a 60-room property, which is what we’d like.
Simples, Rocco – buy an island.
That article is from 2012, so let’s hope they’re close to finding something by now. In the meantime, here are three other recent Venice openings (all 2013) that’d be worth a shot:
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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.