For discerning travel aficionados, Aman is much more than a luxury hotel brand. For one thing, staying at an Aman property is almost certainly an experience unrivalled anywhere else. Meaning “peace, security, safety, shelter, protection” in Sanskrit, Hindi, Punjabi, Arabic, Ge’ez, Amharic, Urdu and Persian, Aman properties currently number 33 in 21 countries stretching from Asia to Europe, North Africa and the States.
Aman resorts beguile with their discreet luxury, exquisite attention to detail, otherworldly service, special privileges and breathtaking locations. Aman Summer Palace hotel boasts its own private gateway into the Summer Palace – Beijing’s prized historic treasure. At the Aman Grand Canal in Venice, guests are permitted to visit the Doge’s Palace and clock tower in St. Mark’s Square after hours. One Aman property is perched on the edge of a national park in Rajasthan, while another is surrounded by four volcanoes and overlooks 9th-century Buddhist temples in Java. Meanwhile, nestled away on Phuket’s west coast sits Amanpuri, the flagship of Aman Resorts. Ringed by a lush jungle on one side and magnificent views of the Andaman Sea on the other, its 40 villas cascade down the hillside of a former coconut plantation, guaranteeing complete privacy for the royalty, celebrities and tycoons who have been vacationing there for almost three decades. However, the newest Aman property to open – a magical, fairytale-like hospitality journey into Chinese history – might actually be one of the hotel group’s most incredible yet.
Bordering Qizhong Forest Park in the Minhang district of greater Shanghai and surrounded by ancient camphor trees, Amanyangyun lies in Maqiao Town, approximately an hour away from the city centre.
Comprising just 37 keys, at the heart of Amanyangyun are 13 ancient villas which were originally situated 700km away in Fuzhou, Jiangzi Province. Since the construction of a dam would have submerged the precious Ming and Qing dynasty villas forever, local entrepreneur Ma Dadong set about preserving them, a feat which involved moving and storing them, piece by piece. 15 years later they were lovingly reassembled at Amanyangyun, and Australian architect Kerry Hill designed minimalist interiors to suit, employing plenty of wood, stone and bamboo. Hill also drew inspiration from the design of the ancient villas – with their courtyards, wooden lattice work and black stone – to create the rest of the resort, carefully blending typical, minimal Aman styling into the mix.
At the same time as the ancient villas were saved from destruction, Dadong also arranged to transport 10,000 similarly threatened ancient trees – many more than 1,000 years old – to a site just outside Shanghai. The majority survived the process, and a forest of them has been planted at Amanyangyun.
To say that the overall effect is incredibly impressive is something of an understatement. What Aman and Kerry Hill have created together is nothing short of a hospitality masterpiece, and a property which no doubt in time, will only further improve with age.