A Sojourn with Aman

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Journey with Aman for an escape this winter to discover the sun-kissed charm of Southeast Asia. As renowned for its beaches and turquoise seas as for its varied cultures and exceptional cuisines, this tropical region encompasses Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and the islands of Indonesia, and is home to six of Aman’s most lauded resorts. Known for their harmonious design, unparalleled locations, intuitive service and exceptional privacy, Amantaka, Amansara, Amanpuri, Amandari, Amankila and Amanwana all share the elements that have set Aman destinations apart for almost 30 years, yet each is as individual as a fingerprint, gently touching the souls of all who pass through in its own unique way. Whether looking for physical adventure, cultural immersion or spiritual reconnection; a wellness retreat or a foodie odyssey; these Southeast Asian Amans will fulfill dreams and exceed expectations, either as single destinations or as part of a multi-destination itinerary.

Amandari

Resting in a fabled town in northern Laos with clear blue skies and balmy weather from November to March, Amantaka provides guests with a myriad of suggestions for cultural immersion, from gifting alms to saffron-robed monks at dawn to navigating the Mekong to the Buddha-filled Pak Ou Cave upstream. Set in the heart of UNESCO- protected Luang Prabang, known for its unique blend of Laotian and French Colonial architecture, the resort also allows for exploration of the region’s natural wonders, including walking with the elephants of MandaLao and discovering the spectacular waterfalls of Kuang Si and Tad Se. It is not however, just the town’s scenic and meditative qualities that attract travellers these days.

Beneath its halo of golden spires, Luang Prabang is fast becoming hailed as a foodie destination, with the re-emergence of local cuisine on restaurant menus after a long hiatus – and near extinction. Housed in gracious colonial buildings on a leafy garden estate, Amantaka is leading this pioneering culinary venture, helping to reintroduce the regal, indigenous cuisine of the Kingdom. With its own organic farm and special relationships with vendors in local food markets, Amantaka has curated culinary experiences that take guests on an exclusive gastronomic journey. These can involve market tours, cooking classes and private dining in any number of atmospheric settings to provide a full sensory experience of Laos’ vibrantly unique cuisine.

Amankila

Following the Mekong River south, Amansara lies in wait – a tranquil hideaway on the outskirts of Siem Reap just minutes from the magnificent ruins of Angkor. Lost to the outside world in the forests of Cambodia for centuries, these mysterious stone temples have revealed many of their secrets to archaeologists since their international rediscovery in the mid-1800s. The silent smiles of Bayon’s enigmatic stone faces and the fierce grip of giant strangler figs on Ta Prohm however imply that all has yet to be revealed.

Visitors to Amansara – originally built as a guesthouse for the late King Norodom Sihanouk in the 1960s – enjoy privileged access to the ruins in their own remork with a personal driver and a knowledgeable guide. Guests can witness Angkor Wat aglow with the rising sun without another person in sight, then stroll through the jungle to a temple forgotten by the guidebooks. Afterwards a breakfast on the stilted terrace of Amansara’s Khmer Village house is served overlooking Srah Srang reservoir in the heart of the Angkor Archaeological Park. The heat of the day can be eased by relaxing in your own private pool back at the resort or being pampered in the Aman Spa, before setting out again for the temples in the golden light of late afternoon. Once darkness falls, young Apsara dancers entrance with their performances, demonstrating in living colour the graceful movements captured in Angor Wat’s legendary stone bas reliefs, and visiting scholars, historians or archaeologists impart their knowledge on the rich heritage of Khmer culture.

If the balm of sun, sand, sea and spa is all guests crave after exploring the wonders of Luang Prabang, Amanpuri on the west coast of Phuket in Thailand is the epitome of a tropical island paradise. Embracing a white-sand beach and home to the flagship Aman Spa, Amanpuri is the ideal destination for a wellness-focused retreat, offering 3- to 14- night Individual Wellness Immersions designed to promote profound change. Under the direction of newly appointed Spa & Wellness Director Dr. Alison Stone and her expert team of therapists, dieticians and personal trainers, these carefully calibrated programmes aim to gently steer individuals onto a new path whether they seek to increase fitness levels, shift unwanted weight and its emotional root causes, deeply cleanse entire systems or attain renewed awareness. Alison is an active Ayurvedic Consultant, Cellular Detox & Rejuvenation Practitioner and Doctor of Metaphysics with over 20 years of experience as a wellness consultant, holistic practitioner and detox specialist.

Overlooking the sparkling waters of the Andaman Sea from the property’s highest point, Amanpuri’s spa offers: six double treatment rooms each with private bath, shower, steam room and open air sala; a 350-square metre glass-walled duplex gym with panoramic sea views; a state-of-the-art Pilates and yoga studio; and secluded outdoor yoga and relaxation salas high on the hillside. It is not just within this sanctuary of wellbeing and relaxation that guests achieve their goals. Amanpuri as a whole is a peaceful haven, with every aspect finely tuned to promote balance, peace and wellness. The resort has recently introduced a trio of new culinary concepts within their restaurants (Nama, Arva and The Lounge) and an innovative new wellness menu to support its Wellness Immersions, crafted in collaboration with renowned raw/vegan chefs Ben Flowerday and Dean Gleeson.

Khmer Village House

While Amantaka, Amansara and Amanpuri provide adventure aplenty alongside their culinary, cultural and wellness offerings, Amanwana takes outdoor exploration to another level entirely. The only resort on Indonesia’s Moyo Island, an unspoilt Eden in the Flores Sea, Amanwana is a wilderness retreat of luxurious tents tucked into the forest fringing a picturesque bay. The camp is backed by a nature reserve alive with birdsong, where waterfalls plunge into crystal clear pools and wild rusa deer barely recognise the presence of humans. But it is from the camp’s white-sand beach that the true adventure begins.

Renowned as a diver’s paradise, the waters of the Flores Sea boast incredible biodiversity, crystal-clear visibility and year-round warm temperatures. A short boat ride away, lie nine exclusive dive sites, accessed only by Amanwana guests, and just metres from the shore in Amanwana’s bay lies an incredible house reef with vibrant corals and a dizzying array of tropical fish. Turtles are regular visitors, delighting swimmers, snorkelers and scuba divers alike. Even children can enjoy this underwater universe with the resort’s Bubblemaker programme: children from 8 years of age, can experience scuba diving in just two metres of water, with expert PADI tutelage. Other courses on offer range from PADI Discover Scuba Diving – a taste of diving for those with no prior experience – to Open Water, Adventure Diver and Advanced certifications. For those eager to explore further afield, Amanikan and Amandira are the camp’s coastal cruisers which host multi-day adventures to Rinca and Komodo Islands, and expeditions through the beautiful archipelago of Raja Ampat.

Just over an hour’s flight by seaplane from Amanwana’s bay, guests arrive at Denpasar International Airport on Indonesia’s most famous island. Known for its excellent surfing, superb beaches, verdant rice paddies and warm hospitality, Bali is one of the most lauded tropical island destinations in the world for good reason. But it is perhaps the Island of the Gods’ deeply spiritual nature that leaves the most indelible impression on travellers’ minds. Bali’s unique form of Hinduism permeates the very fabric of its culture, with ceremonies to purify and harmonise relations between the human world, the environment and the world of the gods taking place regularly at temples around the island according to the lunar calendar. Colourful processions frequently fill the streets, while flower and food offerings are left at the delicate spirit houses adorning gardens and roadsides all across the island on a daily basis. Both Amandari in Bali’s central highlands and Amankila on the east coast serve as ideal bases for exploring the spiritual aspect of the island, amongst its many other attractions.

Perched high above the Ayung River Valley, Amandari is an intrinsic part of Kedewatan Village. Legend tells that a Hindu priest visited the village in the seventh century, and brought with him a tiger from Java. Prior to his departure, he had a stone replica of the animal carved to remind residents that their village had been blessed. Located 129 steps down the hill from Amandari, this statue and its surrounding temple are a reminder of the deep connection that exists between the resort and the community in which it resides. Locals believe that the path leading through Amandari and its surrounding rice terraces are sacred ground. But in truth the Balinese feel that their entire island is sacred – from dramatic Mount Agung to its fringe of white beaches.

As well as witnessing local religious festivals in Kedewatan and Ubud, visiting temples in the region and participating in guided meditation and yoga sessions every morning, Amandari guests can also receive a blessing from the local village priest or visit Pak Cok Rai, a member of the Ubud palace family famous for his healing powers. His treatments are created especially for the individual combining traditional acupressure, reflexology and Balinese herbs.

By contrast, and offering a coastal perspective on Bali’s spirituality, Amankila is a beachside retreat overlooking the Lombok Strait in Karangasem, one of East Bali’s most traditional regencies. Offering easy access to remote countryside, local craft villages such as Tenganan, and the area’s royal ruins including Ujung Water Palace, Amankila

is also close to Pura Besakih on the slopes of sacred Mount Agung. The largest and most important Hindu temple on the island, the temple rises through six terraces. Life in this region has changed little over the centuries, and when trekking or cycling through the countryside, spirit houses and their fresh blossom offerings are a common sight, as are colourful processions as they wend their way up the mountainside.

As Aman approaches its 30th anniversary, the brand is enjoying celebrating the past as well as the future. This is what each of the six resorts: Immersed in the cultural, natural and spiritual heritage of their destinations, they simultaneously look ahead at what the next decade will bring, constantly striving to offer guests fresh perspectives and original experiences.

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