Friday, May 18, 2018

Experience Beach Club - The Aman Way

Aman Sveti Stefan

Nature’s restorative, joy-inducing fusion of sun, sea and sand is one of the purest luxuries known to humankind – the warm feeling of the sun on your skin, the sand beneath your feet and the sea kissing your toes. The Beach Clubs at Aman destinations celebrate every aspect of this fusion, providing the finest beach experience on some of the globe’s most picturesque and pristine stretches of coastline. Spaces in which to absorb the sights, sounds and tastes of the ocean in consummate comfort, Aman Beach Clubs provide both the peace and seclusion that counteract the frenetic pace of modern life, as well as the convivial energy inspired by balmy days and nights. Destinations that facilitate escape and quiet communion with nature, every Aman Beach Club is also an exclusive venue where sandy feet, cocktails and sun-kissed friends and family toast life in summer’s golden light.

Each Aman Beach Club is a unique expression of its setting, whether on the tropical shores of Pamalican Island at Amanpulo, the legendary beaches of the Peloponnese at Amanzoe or the protected coves of the Turks & Caicos at Amanyara. More than just beautifully designed structures providing restaurants, lounging decks, dressing rooms and water sports, each is a frame and platform for the beach lifestyle of the destination it reflects. Many boast expansive swimming pools just steps from the sand, others have tucked away beachfront bales or open-air gymnasiums. Some offer surfing lessons on the region’s finest breaks; others environmental turtle-tagging and guided snorkelling expeditions on world-class reefs.

At every Beach Club, Aman’s impeccable, intuitive service is a given, as are all-encompassing sea views and dreamy sunset locations for romantic private dining or festive beach BBQs. Aman boutiques offer exclusive swim and beachwear, and guest suites feature complimentary woven beach bags and sunhats as mementos. Even Aman Wellness also plays its part, with a number of Beach Clubs hosting early morning yoga classes and beach bootcamp sessions.


Amanpuri


Amanpuri – Year Round (Closed June)

Lapped by the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea on the west coast of Phuket, Amanpuri is situated on a private peninsula within a grove of swaying coconut palms. A sweep of stone steps descends from the main swimming pool to the secluded white crescent of Pansea Beach and the resort’s exclusive Beach Club. Offering a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, a lounging terrace, cocktail bar and sun loungers overlooking a 20-metre swimming pool, the Beach Club is as popular by day as it is by night. The resident DJ spins a mellow beach vibe from late afternoon into the evening, when the pool is lit and guests can enjoy signature drinks, superb fresh seafood and wood-fired pizzas beneath the stars. During peak season, the Beach Club is a favourite destination for several themed dinners and events including its iconic New Year’s Eve afterparty.

In the daylight hours, guests can explore the surrounding coastline aboard Hobie Cats, kayaks, SUPS (Stand Up Paddleboards), boogie boards as well as venture beneath the water’s surface using Amanpuri’s snorkelling equipment. For those seeking an adrenaline rush, waterskiing and wakeboarding are available, and guests can also enjoy exhilarating new water sport activities including riding Schiller bikes over the surface of the sea, exploring up to 3 metres beneath the waves with Seabob ‘scooters’, acrobatic over-water airtime with Flyboards, Stand Up Jet Ski’s and electric Lampuga Surfboards, and cruising the shoreline with Hobie Mirage pedal boards. Amanpuri offers PADI-accredited dive programmes year round, and there is also a beach float anchored about 70 metres from the beach and at 6 metres in diameter, there’s plenty of room for sunbathing. Named Samut Thevi, Sanskrit for ‘Goddess of the Sea’, the float is also ideal for sundowners, and a nearby reef is flush with fish to discover.

Amanruya – April to October

Set on a forested hillside overlooking Mandalya Bay, Amanruya lives up to its name ‘Peaceful Dream’ on Turkey’s idyllic Bodrum Peninsula. Protected by a headland and wrapped around a number of well-established trees, the resort’s informal Beach Club consists of a series of terraces on which sun loungers overlook a quaint pebble beach and a wooden jetty – inviting guests to leap into the azure waters of the bay. The Beach Club restaurant serves Turkish-inspired Mediterranean cuisine and home-baked breads that can be dipped in locally- pressed olive oil and savoured in the dappled sunlight.

A range of non-motorised water sports equipment is available, but this is a Beach Club that is the antithesis of Bodrum’s bustle – its seclusion and peace harking back to ancient times. As Amanruya reawakens this summer, its Beach Club is set to become a hideaway spot for those seeking relaxing time out in beautiful natural surrounds.



Amanzoe

Amanzoe – April to December

Greece is a country renowned for its beaches and expectations are always high. Yet Amanzoe’s own private beach on the Peloponnese Peninsula exceeds every one. Stretched across a beautiful bay with sparkling turquoise waters, the beach lies a short drive or gentle mountain bike ride from the hilltop resort and is backed by a magnificent Beach Club designed to host guests from dawn to dusk and beyond.

Providing four swimming pools including two 25-metre lap pools, the Beach Club’s distinguishing feature is its network of expansive marble decks. These flow between and around the swimming pools, inviting guests to relax on loungers in the sun or beneath shady pergolas, pause in the bar for a freshly squeezed juice or signature cocktail, or dine in the expansive restaurant serving local seafood, wood-fired pizzas and fresh salads. Regular beach BBQs with live music are held during the summer months and children are entertained with a range of child-friendly beach activities, while adults can enjoy water sports from windsurfing and paddle boarding, to kayaking and sailing, with expert assistance. Excursions to explore the bay and nearby islands can also be arranged by boat along with sunrise yoga sessions accompanied by the sound of the waves lapping the shore.

As well as a spa area and a small gym, additional unique features of Amanzoe’s Beach Club are the four Beach Cabanas each available for day use for up to four adults or for an overnight stay for two. Situated directly on the beach, these spacious air-conditioned Cabanas provide all the comforts of a Guest Pavilion with bedroom, bathroom and dressing room, as well as a terrace, an almost 200-square-metre garden and a private swimming pool overlooking the sea. Amanzoe guests can reserve a Cabana and enjoy a day on the beach, swimming in the sea, discovering pristine coves by kayak, and sunbathing in complete privacy. Amanzoe is open from April through to December with the Beach Club open from May to October.

Aman Sveti Stefan – May to October (Villa Milocer – Year Round)

Attracted by Aman Sveti Stefan’s unique location encompassing a fabled island village, a historic villa on the mainland and a spectacular stretch of Montenegrin coastline, many guests only realise on arrival that the resort is also a stellar beach destination. The estate incorporates no less than three pink sandy beaches, including the Adriatic jewel – Queen’s Beach which is backed by a magnificent lawn and forest surrounding the resort’s standalone Aman Spa. Sun loungers line the beach and the outdoor portion of the spa swimming pool, and day beds rest beneath the cyprus trees that shade the lawn.

New for the 2018 season, a restaurant on Queen’s Beach serves an extensive beach BBQ menu for lunch and private beach BBQ’s for dinner. Offering freshly caught seafood and local specialties with a range of salads and sides, this casual alfresco venue offers feet-in-the-sand dining at its best – with extraordinary sea and island views. Guests can also enjoy a new spa menu of boost juices, protein smoothies, power bowls, seasonal fruit salads and ice pops on the beach.

Amankila

Amankila – Year Round

Perched on Bali’s east coast with regal Mount Agung as its backdrop, Amankila is a cliffside resort overlooking the Lombok Strait. With its iconic three-tiered swimming pool and panoramic sea views, it is the resort’s Beach Club that comes as a delightful surprise for many guests. Located below the resort, set back from the beach in a peaceful coconut grove, the Beach Club is surrounded by verdant tropical gardens. Partially shaded by a frangipani tree, the Beach Club swimming pool – Amankila’s largest – is overlooked by the Terrace Restaurant, which offers both indoor and outdoor settings. Nearby in leafy seclusion are a number of open-air massage pavilions, a yoga bale, as well as a new outdoor gym, crafted almost entirely of bamboo.

From the Beach Club, a short stroll on a sandy path through dense vegetation leads to the resort’s private black-sand beach. Eight secluded lounging bales are set along the sand – each tucked into the foliage for added privacy, but with beautiful sea views. Drinks and light meals can be enjoyed within the bales during the daytime, and romantic private dining with a bonfire can be arranged in the evenings. For exclusive use, Karang Sari, a clifftop platform is located on the eastern edge of the beach and allows guests to enjoy private dining set ups as well as sunset cocktails with views across the Lombok Strait.

Amanpulo

Amanpulo – Year Round

The epitome of a tropical island retreat, Amanpulo encompasses the entire island of Pamalican in Palawan archipelago. This paradise in the Philippines is fringed by beaches and pristine coral reefs, and in essence is a Beach Club in its natural form.

The resort’s eponymous Beach Club Restaurant with its casual dining area, lounging deck and eclectic Mediterranean fare is situated on the western side of the island and is the ideal spot for all-day lounging and watching the sun set. Adjacent is the Sea Sports Hut, from which a host of water sport activities can be enjoyed. These include kayaking, paddle boarding, pedal boarding, Hobie Cat sailing, Sea Bob experiences, guided snorkelling expeditions, fishing trips, boat trips to Manamoc Island and sunset cruises.

On the opposite side of the island lies the Windsurf Hut, with expert windsurfing and kite-surfing pros on hand to offer lessons during the season of November to March, and a rustic pizza restaurant providing sustenance.

The eastern side of the island is also home to Amanpulo’s turtle hatchery. When the timing is right, guests can join in the memorable experience of releasing newly-hatched turtles into the sea. Guests can also get up close and personal with the island’s underwater inhabitants while scuba diving with Amanpulo’s scuba masters, or simply by snorkelling off the Kawayan Bar – a floating sundeck opposite the Beach Club. 2018 will be the first year that Amanpulo launches its dolphin interaction programme – an exciting opportunity for guests to encounter dolphins in the wild.

Amanyara

Amanyara - Year Round

Renowned for its crystal blue water and powder white sand, Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos Islands is a premiere destination for beach and water sports enthusiasts. Set on the serene northwest coast, Amanyara features a Beach Club and Nature Discovery Centre enabling guests to enjoy the resort’s pristine coastal and marine environment to the full.

Overlooking the resort’s 1,000-metre long white-sand beach, Amanyara’s Beach Club offers a restaurant, cocktail bar and lounging deck with panoramic beach and sea views. The restaurant serves raw dishes as well as Caribbean, Latin American and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. Cooking classes, rum and wine tastings, chocolate making and other activities are regularly hosted at the Beach Club, as well as larger private events, beach BBQs and a legendary New Year’s Eve party with global acts providing entertainment. A range of complimentary water sports equipment, from Hobie Cats and SUPS, to ocean kayaks and Sea Bobs are available, and a guided complimentary snorkelling trip departs three times daily from the beach to a nearby coral head.

At Amanyara’s Nature Discovery Centre, environmental programmes and nature experiences await guests of all ages. Guests can take part in Amanyara’s conservation work with sea turtles, helping to flipper-tag endangered green and hawksbill turtles. They can also learn more about the resort’s Adopt-a-Coral programme, which is playing a pivotal role in the preservation and regeneration of the region’s coral reefs.


Amanoi

Amanoi – Year Round

Set between Nui Chua National park and a marine reserve, Amanoi embraces nature from its beachside perch on the remote southern coast of Vietnam. Overlooked by magnificent granite cliffs, the Beach Club is located

on the sandy white beach of Vinh Hy Bay – known as one of country’s most picturesque. A destination unto itself designed to maximise sea views, the Beach Club offers a spacious open-sided restaurant specialising in celebratory breakfasts, Vietnamese dishes and seafood feasts. Sun loungers line the dramatic swimming pool – its curves mimicking the seashore just metres away, and guests can enjoy sunrise yoga sessions on the Beach Club deck, framed by huge granite boulders. Strenuous beach boot camp sessions invite a refreshing dip in the sea or swimming pool afterwards, before a shower and a well-deserved breakfast. For those seeking a more intimate escape, journey by boat along the croppy coastline to the Twilight Cliff Lounge, set on a natural rock cliff, to watch as the sun sets over Amanoi’s sloped roofs.

The pristine waters of Vinh Hy Bay are ideal for exploration, both along the craggy coastline and under the deep blue, where colourful coral and schools of tropical fish reside. The Beach Club provides a full range of water sports equipment: Hobie Cats offer sea adventure to experienced sailors and novices alike, while guided kayaking expeditions and snorkelling trips explore granite rock formations and discover over 300 species of coral. Sand sculpture artists are available to entertain children and adults alike.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Awakening the Spirit of the King Tree at Amanyangyun

Er-hu Master Mr Gao Shaoqing

Amanyangyun Grand Opening Celebrations held on 28th April, 2018

Amanyangyun, Aman’s fourth destination in China, a project 16 years in the making, is now complete, and on the 28th April celebrated its Grand Opening.

Kunqu Opera Singer Mr Zhang Jun

Opera Singer Ms Huang Ying 

Located just outside downtown Shanghai, Amanyangyun is a unique forest village of modern and historic Ming and Qing dynasty dwellings, tranquil gardens and an enriching Aman Spa. It is the result of a monumental 16-year conservation initiative which saw 10,000 camphor trees and dozens of Ming and Qing dynasty homes painstakingly transferred 700 kilometres to Shanghai from the Jiangxi Province in eastern China, where the construction of a reservoir threatened their continued existence. Breathing new life into history, Amanyangyun is a celebration of nature, an astonishing feat of human endeavour, and a sanctuary to stir the soul.

The Grand Opening Celebrations, attended by 600 distinguished guests, commenced with an emotive drum and dance performance by U-Theatre. The internationally renowned group has performed their Zen-inspired drumming around the world for three decades. To celebrate Amanyangyun’s Grand Opening, U-Theatre’s stirring performance was choreographed around, and paid respect to, the resort’s eldest tree, the cherished ‘King Tree’, which sits at the heart of the resort, as a poignant reminder of the journey in the creation of Amanyangyun, which now safeguards priceless natural and cultural treasures.




U- Theatre Performing

As the drums played to awaken the spirit of the ‘King Tree’, 18 drummers slowly made their way out of Nan Shufang, Amanyangyun’s cultural complex, towards the tree, thus closing the chapter of the relocation and reconstruction that took place over the last 16 years. This scene illustrated the reunion of the antique houses and trees which once stood together in Fuzhou, Jiangxi, and now together stand safely at Amanyangyun where they will keep on recounting their remarkable journey and story for generations to come.

A key moment in the performance saw each of the drummers nourish the King Tree with water, culminating in a scene where one artist bowed down to the tree, and carefully placed both hands at its base. His ethereal voice reverberated between the trees, and spoke to the spirit of the King Tree. With it, a pulse of light shot up and suddenly connected earth, tree and man, illustrating the harmony that must exist between man and nature. The performance was a poignant reminder of the importance of nurturing the past to enrich the future.

Mr. Vladislav Doronin, CEO and Chairman of Aman, addressed all guests and said “Every Aman has a story to tell and this one is no exception. This project and the many challenges it presented were unimaginable, but we overcame them not only to defy the test of time, but to push the boundaries of traditional hospitality. This resort, a legacy to the past, stands proud as an archive for future generations. I am especially grateful to Ma Dadong, the mastermind behind this unique restoration project and whose foresight and determination has made it possible to preserve the magnificent history of China for generations to come.”

“We human beings with our short lifespan are nothing but a fleeting traveller at a moment in time. Looking up at this sacred King Tree, in awe, I believe it was this tree that chose me to make this journey”, said Mr. Ma Dadong, the lion-hearted entrepreneur and philanthropist who started this iconic relocation and restoration project 16 years ago in his native, Fuzhou City, Jiangxi Province.

When walking around Amanyangyun, one is transported back to the bygone eras in Fuzhou City, the birthplace of many talents, one among is Tang Xianzu, the ‘Shakespeare of the Orient’. Tang’s masterpiece ‘Dream in the Peony Pavilion’ has been passed down from generation to generation in the form of Kunqu Opera. Renowned Chinese Kunqu Opera Singer Mr. Zhang Jun, presented Amanyangyun’s guests with three chapters from the famed ‘Dream in the Peony Pavilion’. The ethereal camphor forest and tranquil gardens set the tone for the performances. Across the lake and from a floating stage, Zhang Jun’s voice evoked memories of the past. Mr. Zhang Jun was joined by lyric coloratura soprano and opera singer Ms. Huang Ying during the last chapter of the Kunqu performance – a combination of the east and west.






At Amanyangyun, old and new, natural and manmade, east and west, coexist in perfect harmony and the performances paid tribute to this very notion. Ms Huang Ying presented Mozart’s ‘Queen of the Night’ together with an Er-hu accompaniment by the famed Chinese Er-hu master Mr. Gao Shaoqing He is a Chinese artist and ambassador who bridges the traditional Chinese music and western music using his two-stringed Chinese fiddle. He presented two of his own master pieces, ‘Capriccio No. 2’ and ‘Mongolian Fantasy’ and finished his set with a lively performance of ‘Galloping Horse’ to guests.

A new culinary destination unto itself, Amanyangyun brought together expert chefs from Aman destinations around the globe to showcase a culinary journey across its three restaurants. Chinese restaurant Lazhu pays homage to Jiangxi, the native land of the cherished camphor forest and ancient dwellings. The lakeside Italian restaurant Arva and Japanese restaurant Nama were the ideal spots for viewing the live performances on the floating stage.

The Grand Opening Celebrations paid tribute to the 16 years journey in the creation of Amanyangyun, and opened a new chapter as Amanyangyun now continues Mr. Ma's legacy safely in Aman's hands.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Alila Manggis and Alila Solo

IN THE HEART OF ROYAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE


True to its ‘surprisingly different’ concept, Alila’s boutique hotels and resorts in different exotic locations offer guests plenty of uniquely memorable destination experiences.

Given its diverse archipelago of islands, each rich in their own natural and cultural heritage, Indonesia alone offers a wealth of unique experiences. Alila provides the perfect base for exploring two of Indonesia’s most historically and culturally rich destinations – East Bali and Central Java – with a stay at Alila Manggis and Alila Solo respectively, two very distinct locations yet both surrounded by historic royal sites, where centuries-old traditions live on.

Nestled on tranquil Buitan Beach in Manggis, East Bali, between the sea and Mount Agung, Bali’s most sacred mountain, Alila Manggis is ideally placed to explore the island’s unspoilt east, where the steeply rising landscape from coast to mountain creates spectacular scenery. This boutique hotel in Bali is the gateway to the dive islands off the east coast, the mother temple of Besakih and the great water palaces and kingdoms of East Bali. Alila Manggis is also just 10 minutes from Padang Bai where ferries leave for Lombok and other nearby islands.

Located in the heart of the heritage-steeped royal city of Solo, Alila Solo stands on the city’s main commercial avenue, Jl. Slamet Riyadi, where above the city’s tree-lined streets it is surrounded by 360-degrees views of Central Java’s dramatic landscape of volcanoes. The hotel lies within easy reach of many of the city’s main attractions, including the two-centuries-old Sultan’s Palace, the Laweyan Batik district and the famed Pasar Gede
Market.

Besides immersing guests in Indonesia’s rich cultural heritage, these two Alila hotels are famous for being sanctuaries of wellness and relaxation, offering spa treatments to pamper your soul. Explore these signature packages for the ultimate Alila retreat:


Spa Alila Wellness Indulgence at Alila Solo
This is one truly pampering escape that’s all about taking time out to relax, renew and recharge, offering an indulgence of heavenly spa treatments in the peaceful sanctuary of Spa Alila. Days unfold in a series of relaxing rituals that include Balinese, Javanese or reflexology massages, a royal herbal bath, a luxurious body scrub, as well as an Avocado & Coconut hair ‘smoothie’ and head massage, interspersed with invigorating wellness activities, including a private gym session, and daily yoga or Pilates. And when not being spa pampered, simply enjoy soaking up the sunshine by the pool.

For more info, visit: HERE


Complete Hideaway at Alila Manggis
Carefree indulgence is yours to enjoy down by the sea, where you can alternate between poolside relaxation and the sheer blissfulness of unlimited Spa Alila treatments. Forget the world outside as you spoil yourself with your choice of rejuvenating, beautifying and luxuriously pampering spa treatments, calmed by the sound of the ocean waves. Indulge in the ultimate escape relaxed in the knowledge that everything is covered, including return airport transfers, breakfast, lunch and dinner with non-alcoholic beverages at Seasalt restaurant, mini bar selections, as well as crafted Alila experiences.

Whether you opt to explore the wonders of East Bali or immerse in the spirit of Java, Alila Manggis and Alila Solo offer more than enough to satisfy your wanderlust.

For more info, visit: HERE

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Belmond: Extraordinary Travel Experiences in 2018


CRAFTMANSHIP, HERITAGE AND INNOVATION 

Following a series of award-winning design and renovation projects last year, Belmond today reveals details of seven highly distinctive developments across its unique portfolio of hotels, trains and cruises in 2018. 

The launch of three new Art-Deco Grand Suites on board historic Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Belmond’s diverse range of designs honour timeless craftsmanship, celebrate heritage and tradition and look to the future working with innovative designers and local materials. 

This year will see the introduction of a new era of exploration and discovery at Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge in Botswana; celebrate local culture and traditional arts in Mexico with the re-imagination of Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada; the completion of a historical renovation of Belmond Cadogan Hotel in London as well as the opening of the ultimate in beach-chic and relaxed luxury, Belmond Cap Juluca in Anguilla. 

“When you walk into a Belmond property you can feel the ‘soul’ of the place, and it’s our job to keep the soul and spirit alive with the design concepts. We are working with talented designers to carefully merge the genuine elements of the local culture with a modern-day relevance that resonates with our guest’s lifestyle and aspirations,” comments Joe Ferry, Art & Design Director at Belmond. 

No two properties are the same, but each is influenced by local cultures and traditions and many are strongly connected to the history and heritage of the destination. Belmond’s properties are defined by their authentic designs that stand the test of time; classical and elegant they embrace the unique personality of each destination.


TRADITIONAL CRAFTSMANSHIP – VENICE SIMPLON-ORIENT-EXPRESS, EUROPE 
Three new private ‘Grand Suites’ launched last week aboard the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, creating new levels of luxury accommodation aboard the historic train. Named after the romantic cities to which the train travels, Paris, Venice and Istanbul; interior designs of each cabin reflect the spirit of each city whilst staying true to the original 1920s Art-Deco design. 

Working with the very best craftsman including a traditional glassblower who has created the spectacular glass sinks and delicate light fixtures and famed mosaicist Jerome Clochard, an expert in the restoration of ancient mosaics, who piece by piece created the stunning patterns using marble, onyx, Venetian granite and Italian glass. Master atelier, Philippe Allemand has created the striking marquetry, an ancient skill that has passed through generations and has worked with the train since its restoration in 1997. The delicate process requires the layering of hundreds and thousands of exotic pieces of wood that are lacquered to create the most luxurious finish. 


MEXICAN MASTERPIECE – BELMOND CASA DE SIERRA NEVADA, MEXICO 
In April 2018, Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada, in the heart of Mexico re-emerges from a masterful renovation as a timeless Mexican retreat. This ambitious restoration project carefully protects the property’s original 16th–18th century features whilst finding new and inspiring ways to represent Mexican traditions and modern artisans. 

All 37 rooms and suites have been newly imagined and constructed like a piece of art; pastel pinks, blues and yellows colour the soft furnishings whilst one off pieces of Mexican art hang on the walls and traditional Talavera bathroom tiles, tapestries and bed linens complement the authentic clay floors. Wooden furnishings have been hand-carved using local techniques and kumquats and orange trees are planted in the shady courtyards. 

FASHIONABLE SUITES – BELMOND LA RESIDENCIA, MALLORCA 
Celebrated fashion designer, Matthew Williamson is designing a new colourful and vibrant suite at Belmond La Residencia, Mallorca. Opening in April 2018, ‘Suite 67’ is set to feature Williamson’s signature botanicals and luxe textures, all combined with a rustic decadence. 
Matthew brings his unique interior aesthetic whilst honouring the heritage and traditional Mallorcan feel of the property. Each space will have a distinct mood, balancing contemporary playful designs with eye-catching hues and hand-drawn fauna and floral patterns. The one-bed suite will feature an outdoor snug, private pool and garden, luxurious living space and a vibrant bathroom; set to be one of the most fashionable spaces on the island. 

DESIGNS ON THE MOVE – BELMOND AFLOAT IN FRANCE 
Launching on the waterways of Champagne and Alsace in Summer 2018; two new luxury barges Pivoine and Lilas join the Belmond Afloat in France fleet. Carrying just 8 guests, the new barges are designed with every comfort and detail offering the most luxurious barging experience in France. 

Designed and built in France, both Pivoine and Lilas feature colours and materials that reflect the natural beauty of the landscapes they travel through. Pivoine’s light natural timber finish, terracotta flooring, and elegant white linens link the design to the colours of Champagne. Lilas’ more rustic interiors feature dark woods and rattan chairs, mixed with ironmongery, evocative of the ancient towns and villages of Alsace. Both feature open decks for al-fresco dining with private floating pools. 


GOLDEN AGE OF EXPLORATION – BELMOND SAVUTE ELEPHANT LODGE, BOTSWANA 
This summer, Belmond unveils its new-look Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge in the Chobe National Park, following a full redesign by Inge Moore of Muza Lab. Celebrating the golden age of exploration, the designs are inspired by the great explorers of history, from scientists, botanists and adventurers who pioneered a new era in travel. 

Respecting the nature and the wilderness of the region, sustainable design features include the removal of all concrete; the use of eco-friendly composite bamboo decking in the principal areas and the lodge will function on a 95% solar grid system. 
The lodge, which includes 12 tented rooms, spa, lounge, bar and open deck with pool and firepit, will be authentic, timeless explorers retreat with modern luxuries to satisfy today’s curious adventurers. 


ISLAND-CHIC HIDEWAY – BELMOND CAP JULUCA, ANGUILLA 
Opening in November 2018, a new era of beach-chic glamour and relaxed luxury is introduced to Belmond Cap Juluca, Anguilla, located in the British West Indies on Maundays Bay - one of the most serene white sandy beaches in the Caribbean. 

The unique design, by renowned interior design firm, Rottet Studio, pays homage to the surrounding nature and Anguillan heritage, blending the charms of old-world travel with new world comforts – offering a sanctuary for total escapism. 

A new sea view infinity-edge pool, ‘disappearing spa’, rustic beach bar ‘The Cap Shack’ and elegant restaurants herald a new era for this legendary resort. Colourful botanicals and indigenous plants spill in from the tropical surrounds and blend with new designs and the resort’s signature Greco-Moorish architecture. 

NEW ROMANTIC HERO – BELMOND CADOGAN HOTEL, LONDON 
Completing the year in style, Belmond opens the historic Belmond Cadogan Hotel in the heart of Chelsea, London. The multi-million-dollar refurbishment project preserves the unique heritage of the Queen Anne Style property dating back to 1887 and introduces a new world-class retreat embracing quiet luxury. 

Interior design by GA Design International draws inspiration from the hotel’s original features and rich history and heritage - from Sir Hans Sloane, to Kings of England, artists and writers and the scandalous stories of Oscar Wilde and Lillie Langtry.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Joali: Joy of Living to The Maldives


OPENING SEPTEMBER 2018


Opening this September, the luxurious island retreat Joali will set a new benchmark for glamour and sophistication in the Maldives, celebrating the ‘Joy of Living’ with exquisite craftsmanship, artistry and sustainability at its very core.

Meticulous thought and attention to detail will be prevalent in every facet of Joali’s impeccable offering as it seeks to offer guests of all ages a more unconventional approach to laid-back luxury: from its artful design and architecture, to its carefully curated products, in-the-moment experiences and highly personalised services.


The resort is designed in and around every tree to ensure the preservation of its delicate ecosystem, and situated on Muravandhoo Island in the Raa Atoll, situated in northern Maldives and one of the largest and deepest atolls in the world. Located close to the Equator, Muravandhoo is blessed with brilliant blue waters, unspoilt coral reefs and pristine white-sand beaches, the lush interior abundant with coconut palms.

Joali will comprise 73 elegant private beach and water villas and residences, each inspired by individual stories and featuring artisanal amenities, curated in-room libraries, thoughtful design and select objêts d’art. Four restaurants will serve guests inventive fusion cuisine from across the globe to satisfy the most discerning of palates. There will be a stylish whisky lounge, a Chocolate and Ice Cream store, a curated library, an ESPA Spa and a range of fitness and sports activities on offer. Joali will curate specialised guest experiences aimed to educate and promote greater environmental awareness.

Central to the Joali offering is its exceptional array of art and design evident in all areas of the resort, with the Joali Art Studio & Gallery at the very heart. A rostrum of visiting artists will inspire guests with interactive art projects and nature inspired collections to nourish their creativity. Dotted around the resort are also exquisite works of art and design curated by Joali and created from recycled goods by celebrated young artists. Guests can add to their own art collection and holiday memories at the Store; this will sell distinct textile products, objêts d’art from local and global artists, as well as one-of-a-kind works created at the Studio.

LUXURY VILLAS AND RESIDENCES


There are a variety of two to five room villas available, suitable for couples and families, large or small, with butler service. The Private Ocean Residence will provide guests with 500 sqm of opulent living space across three bedrooms, with three dressing rooms – each with two walk-in wardrobes – and two living rooms. Two stunning infinity pools, a butler and valet service, and an on-call Dhoni complete the offering.

With its premier beachside position, the 500 sqm Private Duplex Beach Residence will have four exquisite bedrooms allowing ample space for up to eight people and also ensuring privacy. There will also be a butler and valet service, a curated library, and a buggy and driver at the guests’ disposal around the clock.

CULINARY ARTS AT JOALI



The dining experiences at Joali have been thoughtfully curated to satisfy the most discerning of foodies, and will include:

  • VANDHOO RESTAURANT – A specially designed dining experience encompassing flavours from across South-East Asia, China, the Mediterranean and the Levant, Guests can enjoy experiential dining, delicious breakfasts and an impressive cellar of hand-picked wines and vintages.

  • HER KITCHEN – A personalised culinary experience for guests to learn how to cook and enjoy local Maldivian recipes. 

  • SAOKE RESTAURANT – Joali chose world-renowned Japanese restaurant architect Noriyoshi Muramatsu to design Saoke Restaurant replete with Kotatsu seating, elegant lounge, and Nikkei cuisine. 

  • BELLINIS RESTAURANT – A true slice of Italy in the Maldives serving Nonna- approved dishes as well as a wide range of Grappa’s, peach Bellini’s and homemade Limoncellos. 

  • THE MURA BAR – With cabanas and infinity pods overlooking the sandy white beach, this is the place to head for exquisite sunset cocktails and light bites. There is also a special whiskey and cigar lounge. 

  • THE CHOCOLATE AND ICE-CREAM STORE – Set to be a big draw for both Joali’s youngest guests, and adults alike, serving a host of artisanal sweet treats. 

  • DESTINATION DINING – A special menu to be enjoyed in one’s villa or residence. 

  • WELLBEING AT JOALI - Achieving wellbeing is the very essence of Joali and holistically they seek to address physical ailments, emotional equilibrium and spiritual consciousness. A Wellbeing programme devised with ESPA will aim to reconnect individuals to themselves in mind, body and spirit. Inspired by the tropical surroundings, a wide range of indulgent treatments will be on offer. A fitness centre will offer expert trainers and expansive views of the ocean and the flora and fauna. Joali’s Flower Garden, a majestic showcase of local plants and flowers with workshops and events, will further inspire guests to expand their own botanical knowledge. 

  • KIDS AT JOALI - Eschewing the usual ‘Kid’s Club’, Joali will offer a host of imaginative activities to engage and entertain younger guests, including native storytelling days with local raconteurs, to interactive treasure hunts around the resort. The dedicated facilities will also include a Kid- friendly kitchen.

WEDDINGS AND HONEYMOONS AT JOALI


The ultimate island wedding and honeymoon destination, Joali’s experienced team will ensure an unforgettable day, from simple sunset nuptials à deux to a grand beachside event.

UNIQUE MOMENTS OF JOALI: BESPOKE ITINERARIES


Joali will create bespoke and exceptional itineraries for its guests; from snorkelling with Manta rays to learning about coral degradation; from wakeboarding, to chartered yacht and Dhoni excursions as well as meeting with local communities. To further encapsulate their take on ‘L’art de Vivre’, Joali has also created a host of ‘unique moments’; these include the Joali Spring Ceremony, a Tree House hideaway, and a dedicated Book Exchange.

For more info, visit JOALI

Friday, April 13, 2018

A Series of Unforgettable Journeys


AMAN TOKYO & AMANEMU



Establishing deep, lasting connections with local communities and cultures around the world has been an intrinsic part of the Aman philosophy ever since the first destination – Amanpuri – opened almost 30 years ago in Phuket. To mark three decades of Aman and truly celebrate this philosophy, Aman’s two Japan destinations – Aman Tokyo and Amanemu – have launched a series of 12 immersive, one-of-a-kind Journeys exclusively for guests.


These Journeys will take guests on adventures that fully utilise the five senses and get to the heart of Japan’s fantastically diverse culture. At the same time, they bond Aman Tokyo and Amanemu even closer to their communities, fostering deep ties with an array of remarkable local artisans. These relationships are symbiotic, and in many cases contribute to the preservation of Japan’s local arts, crafts, cultures and cuisines.

These 12 Journeys take place in the bustling Japan capital and the beautiful Ise Shima region. From an enchanting evening with a geisha at one of Tokyo’s most exclusive traditional ryotei restaurants, to an akoya pearl-cultivating excursion in the heart of stunning Ago Bay, they have been created to deliver memories that will last a lifetime – in essence, allowing guests to touch the fabric of Japan’s cultural identity.






Aman Tokyo Journeys

An enchanting evening with geisha

A visit to Tsurunaka – one of Tokyo’s most exclusive ryotei restaurants – for a captivating evening in the company of a geisha.

A sushi-making masterclass
A unique opportunity for guests to get behind the counter at Iwa Hanare, a superb seven-seat sushi restaurant in the Ginza district.

The art of Iaido swordsmanship
A private session with a master of the katana sword, culminating with guests slicing through a straw target.

The essence of sado and wagashi

A visit to a chashitsu teahouse to experience the Japanese tea ceremony in its true form, with guests preparing their own wagashi sweets to enjoy as a vital part of the ritual.

Up close with the world of sumo
A morning visit to a sumo beya stable to watch the wrestlers undergo a rigorous training session, followed by a trip to the Ryogoku Kokugikan arena.

Unearthing old Edo by rickshaw
A tour by traditional rickshaw of the Edo-period wonders surrounding Aman Tokyo.




Amanemu Journeys

Cultivate your very own akoya pearl
A truly one-of-a-kind experience in which guests cultivate their very own akoya pearl – renowned globally for their lustre – at the water’s edge of beautiful Ago Bay.

An ocean adventure with an ama diver
A unique opportunity to dive with a veteran female ama, followed by a delicious seafood barbeque in an amagoya hut.

Hiking the majestic surrounds of Ise Jingu
A specially created hike through the nation’s holiest region, taking in the summit of Mt. Asama and Kongoshoji temple.

Ise Jingu Grand Shrine and the food of the gods
A culinary tour of Ise Shima, sampling the foods offered daily to the deities at Japan’s most sacred site.

Cycling the peaks and shores of Ise Shima
Two bespoke cycling tours – one moderate, one more challenging – of the spectacular Ise-Shima National Park area.

A trip back in time through Nikenchaya and Kawasaki
A bespoke tour of two remarkably preserved old towns, sampling their architectural and culinary delights.

An enchanting evening with geisha
Geisha are one of Japan’s foremost icons, yet the sphere they inhabit has long been accessible to the privileged few. Theirs is a world filled with music, magic and mystique that unfolds after dark in utmost discretion – so close, yet so far from the reach of many – undoubtedly fueling misconceptions about what it is that these remarkable women do.




In fact, geisha represent the epitome of omotenashi – the Japanese take on hospitality that prioritises the guest above all else. They are masters of beauty, etiquette and a myriad of arts – including traditional games, songs, dance, tea ceremony, flower arrangement and makeup.

Aman Tokyo’s flagship Journey takes guests to Tsurunaka – perhaps the most exclusive traditional ryotei restaurant remaining in the Japan capital – for a truly enchanting evening meal spent in the company of a geisha. Tsurunaka, itself tucked away in one of the few surviving hanamichi (“flower towns”) typically graced by these women, has been a favourite of Tokyo’s political and economic movers and shakers since it was converted into a ryotei in the 1950s.

Architecturally, Tsurunaka is a stunning 20th-century example of thesukiya- zukuri aesthetic. And, in true ryotei style, the establishment is normally only accessible via a system known as ichigensan okotowari – requiring the trusted referral of an existing customer.

In that sense, the person who has been most instrumental in facilitating this Journey is Ikuko – regarded as Japan’s most esteemed living geisha. Born in Kumamoto in 1940, she moved to Tokyo in 1964 and quickly became known as “the most beautiful woman in Akasaka.” She has since gone on to receive an official honour from the Japanese Emperor for her tireless work – becoming the only geisha to receive the Order of the Rising Sun.

Ikuko, speaking on behalf of all the geisha working in the Akasaka hamamichi, says it is their upmost pleasure to show guests of Aman Tokyo the real meaning of Japanese hospitality. “Despite the language barrier, we believe we can demonstrate omotenashi in its fullest sense, interacting through fun, games and gestures. Whichever of us geisha attend to Aman Tokyo guests, our role is simple: When the guests leave, they leave feeling satisfied and full of enjoyment.”

This Journey is a truly unique experience – an evening with real geisha in a beautiful building long cherished by Tokyo’s high society, where traditional games, songs and dance surely abound. A delightful kaiseki course of seasonal cuisine will be served for dinner, along with a selection of sake and other beverages.





A sushi-making masterclass
When it comes to Tokyo’s countless sushi restaurants, it is often the case that the very best is the hardest to find, intentionally tucked down small backstreets or concealed in plain- looking buildings that only the most discerning clientele would know about. This Journey takes Aman Tokyo guests to just such a spot – Ginza Iwa Hanare, a tiny seven-seat sushi restaurant of the highest order, nestled along a quiet street in the upscale Ginza district.

Here, guests have the extremely rare opportunity of getting behind an impeccably designed sushi counter to make their own nigiri under the watchful eye of taisho (master) Katsuaki Suzuki – an affable, Zen-like character who has risen the to the top of the sushi world at the age of just 31, having also made a name for himself in Hong Kong.

The sushi that guests have the opportunity to prepare include shiromi white fish, akami tuna, toro fatty tuna, ikura salmon egg, and uni sea urchin – all sourced from the world-famous Tsukiji fish market a few hundred metres away.

Aside from the quality of the seafood, what elevates sushi to the highest level is hard to define – but watching and learning from Suzuki will surely provide the answer.





The art of Iaido swordsmanship
Iaido is a Japanese martial art of utmost grace – a devotion entirely to the katana sword. It was developed in the 15th or 16th century as a counter to surprise attacks, the aim being to attain the ability to instantly unsheathe the katana, strike down an opponent with a single stroke, place the weapon back in its scabbard, and – most importantly – return to a still mind.

Like so many Japanese arts, Iaido places the pursuit of spiritual perfection above its literal purpose. Practising this martial art is said to improve posture, control, concentration and manners.

This Journey takes place at a school of the Mugairyu discipline of Iaido, developed in Tokyo. In an exclusive private session with Shoun Uetsubara – a 6th-dan Iaido master – guests first learn the basic tenets of samurai etiquette, before practicing six kata sword movements. The 90-minute experience culminates with guests performing a tameshigiri test slice – using a real katana to cut through a straw target.

The essence of sado and wagashi
The sado tea ceremony is one of Japan’s most fundamental cultural practices, rooted in Zen Buddhism. Its four principles of harmony, respect, purity and tranquility have arguably come to define the Japanese psyche. Sen no Rikyu, one of 16th-century Japan’s most prominent cultural figures, had the biggest influence on sado’s development – placing an appreciation of the seasons, impeccable etiquette and equality at its core. Rikyu popularised the famous wabi-sabi aesthetic, which seeks to find beauty and transience in imperfection, as reflected in the utensils involved in sado.

This exclusive Journey offers Aman Tokyo guests the chance to experience sado in its truest form at an authentic chashitsu teahouse – a beautifully minimal space of traditional tatami flooring and natural materials, enclosed within a bamboo fence. Before the ceremony, guests have the extremely rare opportunity to prepare their own wagashi sweets – a vital element of sado for complementing the flavour of the tea – at the nearby studio of traditional confectioner Rika Wakui.

The exquisite wagashi that Wakui creates are typically shaped to reflect the seasons – for example, a sakura cherry blossom in spring and a momiji Japanese maple leaf in autumn. These delights are made using an array of traditional tools; like the tea ceremony itself, this is a wonderfully tactile experience. The finished wagashi are then taken to the teahouse to be sampled before drinking the tea.

Once inside the teahouse, an expert in sado shows guests the correct etiquette and movements involved in the ceremony, including entering the tearoom, sitting, and interacting with others. The culmination of the experience is the sampling of some extremely fine matcha green tea, prepared and served just as Rikyu intended.




Up close with the world of sumo
Sumo has existed as part of Japan’s Shinto rituals for more than 1,500 years, with the founding of the Japanese race even said to have been the result of a bout between a god and the leader of a rival tribe, who battled over the right to the islands that now form the nation.

As Japan’s national sport, professional sumo – which began in the Edo period (1603-1868) – is deeply ceremonious, with the wrestlers leading extremely regulated and hierarchal lives. The sport’s traditional elements have been superbly maintained to this day – a testament to the remarkable discipline instilled in every sumo wrestler.

This Journey is about experiencing the raw power of sumo up close. In the morning, guests of Aman Tokyo are taken to Ryogoku – the Tokyo district that serves as sumo’s heartland – to observe the wrestlers of a renowned sumo beya stable (a residence in which all sumo are required to live) during a grueling and spirited practice session.

Afterwards, guests can have their picture taken with some of the senior sumo within the stable. The Journey is rounded off with a trip to the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena and museum.





Unearthing old Edo by rickshaw
Aman Tokyo’s east-central location puts it within touching distance of some of the Japan capital’s most culturally important sites – particularly those that came to prominence in the Edo period (1603-1868), when the nation enjoyed rapid cultural and economic development.

To the east, Nihonbashi and its throbbing streets of merchants served as the heartbeat of the nation, with vital trade routes extending to Kyoto and other major cities. And to the west, guests of Aman Tokyo need only glance out of the hotel’s towering windows for a stunning vista of the Imperial Palace and its sprawling gardens directly below – home to the Emperor following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when the Imperial Army seized the city, then called Edo, and renamed it Tokyo.

This tour is an exploration of some of these key sites and more – done in true Edo-period style on a beautifully crafted rickshaw, pulled by a supremely fit driver bedecked in the traditional attire of happi thick cotton coat and tabi split-toe shoes. Riding Aman Tokyo’s rickshaw is transportive in more ways than one: not only a delightful and memorable way of getting around the city, but also offering a deeper sense of what life was really like in the Edo period.

The Journey also takes in architectural landmarks such as the Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi department store, the Bank of Japan headquarters and Koami Jinja Shrine. The adventure is completed by a stop for dinner at famed Sushi Kakizaki in downtown Ningyocho.