03 Jun Making An Aman Entrance
Aman destinations are amid some of the most diverse natural and historical landscapes, promising a memorable guest experience commencing long before check in.
From journeys by seaplane over the turquoise Flores Sea to reach the wilderness hideaway of Amanwana on Moyo Island, to crossing a dramatic 60 metre suspension bridge over Mochhu River to reach Amankora’s Punakha lodge, each Aman arrival experience is designed to introduce guests to the drama and magnificence of its destination even before they step foot in the resort.
With five intimate lodges spread across the ancient Kingdom of Bhutan, the experience of Amankora is a discovery, but one that begins well before arrival. The flight into Paro is impressive, as the plane passes over the Himalayas, often offering a glimpse of Mount Everest emerging through the clouds before sweeping close to the mountainside as it descends into the river valley between Thimphu and Paro. The rooftops of farmhouses and temples are visible from the aircraft as it reaches the runway and taxis to a halt before the ornate hand painted arrivals building. The opening of the aircraft doors lets in the crisp mountain air, as well as views of the Paro Dzong Fortress and the surrounding snow-capped peaks – a backdrop that Amankora guests are unlikely to forget.
A half-hour drive past the rice fields and hamlets flanking the Paro Chhu river ends at a simple roadside platform. From here, a pine-forest trail leading to Amankora’s Paro lodge, with Mount Jomolhari towering beyond it, ensures the arrival is both visually arresting and redolent with the earthy fragrance of pine needles, setting the tone for a serene back-to-nature stay.
With the path to Paro lodge quietly inspiring, the route to Punakha lodge is thrillingly dramatic, as guests cross a purpose-built 60-metre suspension bridge across the Mo Chhu river, used only by Aman guests, local villagers and the occasional curious cow. Upon reaching the other side, guests are transported the 1km distance to the lodge by open-air buggy, passing blue pine forests, rice plantations and a sacred carved boulder. A stone staircase leads to the lodge, where a refreshing drink of wild mint and home-grown pomegranate awaits.
A spiritual getaway, Amanjiwo is fringed by the Menoreh Hills, with views of Buddhist sanctuary Borobudur on Java’s Kedu Plain. Travelling from the city of Yogyakarta to Amanjiwo involves a journey through the centre of Java’s spiritual heartland. With a horizon framed by mountains and the smouldering volcanic peaks of Merapi, the Prambanan Valley is home to an astonishing array of Hindu temples, dating back to mid-9th century. Amanjiwo’s chauffer escorts guests past these sacred sites, offering the chance to pause and explore the magnificent Candi Prambanan, the largest Hindu temple collection outside India and home to beautifully ornate carvings. The highlight of the journey is the moment of arrival, when the car rounds a bend on the Amanjiwo driveway and the UNESCO-honoured majesty of Borobudur floods the panorama, ingeniously framed by the stone columns of Amanjiwo.
The wilderness hideaway of Amanwana is located on Moyo Island, a private unspoiled nature and marine reserve to the east of Bali, surrounded by the pristine waters and reefs of the Flores Sea. Despite Amanwana’s seclusion, in true Aman tradition, the journey is made seamless with recently launched seaplane transfers from Denpasar, Bali. The eight-passenger seaplane takes in spectacular aerial panoramas during the 65-minute journey before the plane touches down on the waters of Moyo Island’s secluded bay, where guests step off the plane onto a jetty, seconds from Amanwana’s 20 luxurious tents.
Accessible only by private plane, the whisper-quiet exclusive island retreat, Amanpulo on Pamalican Island in the Philippines feels a world away. Upon arriving in Manila, guests are warmly greeted and taken to Amanpulo’s private lounge. A 70-minute journey aboard a turboprop aircraft treats them to astonishing topography with bird’s eye views of caldera lakes of Taal, Laguna de Bay (the country’s largest), the rugged mountain scape of Mindoro, and the coral atolls of Apologetics’s Reef before the sand-haloed silhouettes of the Quiniluban Islands sweep into view. Stepping off the aircraft onto Amanpulo’s private airstrip on Pamalican, guests are garlanded with the Philippines’ national flower, the Sampaguita or Jasmine, before being shown around their tropical island home and taken to their casita among the palms.
The regal 16th century palazzo set on the Grand Canal is home to Aman Venice, a sumptuous and romantic retreat in the heart of the city. Venice is most mesmorising when seen from the water and the journey between Marco Polo Airport and Aman Venice takes in the full glory of the floating city. Aman Venice’s elegantly appointed water taxi transports guests past the iconic briccole – the wooden guideposts that jut from the water, the legendary glass-making island of Murano and the sculptor Georgy Frangulyan’s bronze interpretation of La Divina Commedia – Dante’s Bridge, in which Virgil points the way to the cemetery island of San Michele. Finally reaching the Grand Canal, the boat glides beneath lamplit arches and windows fringed with Virginia Creeper, passing under the famed Rialto Bridge to the ivy-clad iron gates of the palazzo – through which the grandeur of the Aman Venice is but a few steps away.
AMAN SVETI STEFAN
The charmed coastal retreat of Aman Sveti Stefan is set on a 15th century islet, attached to the coast by a narrow strip of land called an isthmus. The most magnificent arrival to the terracotta-roofed village resort is via helicopter from Dubrovnik, Croatia. The 40-minute journey offers spellbinding mountain-meets-emerald sea views of the Adriatic coastline as Croatia segues into Montenegro, including the serpentine curves of the Bay of Kotor, the rugged rocky beauty of Lovćen National Park and the golden beaches of the Budva Riviera. Guests touch down on the hotel’s lawns where the former royal residence Villa Milocer resides, from where they head straight to their suite on the mainland or cross a smooth stone catwalk flanked by the emerald sea to reach the cottages located on the islet.
Overlooking the Aegean Sea from a remote hilltop surrounded by undulating olive groves in the Peloponnese, Amanzoe is best reached by helicopter, just 25-minutes from Athens. The helicopter journey takes one of two scenic routes; either east over the ancient port of Piraeus, above the myth-rich island of Aegina and its neighbours in the Argo-Saronic Gulf; or west, taking in the sight of islands Hydra and Spetses, and the glittering spectacle of the yacht-lined Porto Heli, before the hilltop stone buildings of Amanzoe appear on the horizon and the helicopter begins its descent.
Situated on 600 acres in Canyon Point, Amangiri is a pocket of modernist luxury in the wild and wind-carved Utah landscape. The almost-secret location of Amangiri is not easy to find in this enigmatic desert landscape, but the panoramic drive from the main road to the hotel is part of the experience. From St. George, Flagstaff, Phoenix or Las Vegas, the drive passes through the region’s national parks and every turn takes in spectacular eroded rock formations, which stretch back 180 million years until the awe-inspiring setting of Amangiri appears, almost like a mirage from within the stark desert landscape, seamlessly blended in the rawness and pure natural beauty of the surrounding mesas and mesmerising light shows. Before entering, guests are greeted with a perfectly framed view of the Entrada Sandstone Mesa through the resort’s iconic breezeway.
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