Every Aman has a story to tell, but this one is especially impressive and moving. For its latest property just outside Shanghai, China, 1000-year-old trees and heritage homes from the Ming and Qing dynasty were transported more than 700 kilometers to what is now Amanyangyun. The unique forest village is the result of a 16-year conservation initiative where 10,000 camphor trees and 13 antique buildings were painstakingly transferred from the Jiangxi Province in eastern China, due to construction of a new reservoir that threatened their existence. Taking the courtyards and wooden lattice work of the heritage villas into account, Kerry Hill Architects created the rest of the resort, including 24 Courtyard Suites, artfully blending Aman minimalism with Chinese Ming and Qing dynasty architecture. The result is breathtaking to say the least, allowing guests a glimpse of China’s past, while experiencing all of today’s modern luxuries.
REAL LIFE HERO
Amanyangyun is a story of hope, pure dedication and endurance. The resort’s owner, Chinese philanthropist and billionaire Ma Dadong, was determined to rescue the camphor forest and historic villages that were about to be destroyed in his native Jiangxi province. Brick by brick (which were all carefully numbered and taken apart) the centuries-old buildings were rebuilt and more than 10,000 camphor trees were relocated, now setting the tone for a peaceful, introspective retreat where old and new complement each other, fulfilling every design and architecture lover’s dream. In addition to the hotel’s regular facilities, the property also boasts a cultural institute, Nan Shufang, which celebrates and teaches classical Chinese traditions and rituals, including calligraphy, tea ceremonies and incense making.
WINE & DINE
Even though your butler can cook up a storm in the kitchen of your Antique Villa, you will want to try out the resort’s restaurants. The food here is exquisite. There is an Italian restaurant, Arva, which serves up authentic dishes, including homemade truffle pasta by Chef Andrea Torre. The ricotta dish is a must! The Japanese restaurant, Nama, offers fresh seafood and the but kakuni ‘braised pork belly’ with sweet soy sauce is a favorite among guests. Lazu, the Chinese restaurant, cooks up Jiangxi specialties, the region where the antique villas and camphor trees are from. Give chili dishes and the juicy xiaolongbao ‘steamed dumplings filled with pork’ a try and pair them with a lovely wine. There is an excellent wine list available, which also boasts a Chinese selection. And for cocktails, head to the bar.
The hotel includes 24 Ming Courtyard Suites. Each suite comes with two courtyards on either side of the bedroom; one of which boasts an onsen and outdoor shower. The rooms are extremely spacious, filled with light and pale wood lattice screen. The sleek dark bathrooms in true Aman minimalist style come with huge rain showers, bathtubs and a set of basins on either end of the room.
The 13 Antique Villas feature four reassembled rooms that are clustered around stone courtyards. Each Antique Villa is configured slightly differently but has retained its original blueprint, with just a few modern touches such as the large windows and modern furniture, which work surprisingly well with the heritage feel. The spacious living and dining areas come with a private kitchen tucked away. The large bedroom, behind the last courtyard, features two dressing rooms, a living area, plus a vast bathroom with stone tub, which will make you want to spend a few extra hours getting ready.
WHAT WE LOVE
- We love the touching story behind Amanyangyun, a labor of love that eventually received wings thanks to Aman.
- Where else can you wake up in a villa from the Ming dynasty?
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
- It is a little bit more than an hour’s drive from the Shanghai city centre. It’s well worth the ride.
- Due to the fact that there is a nearby airport, there is a fair bit of aircraft noise.
Amanyangyun sports indoor and outdoor pools, and the Antique Villas all have their own private pools and Jacuzzis.
With an emphasis on Aman Wellness, the spa at Amanyangyuan, which spans 2,840 square meters, is one of the biggest and most comprehensive wellness havens in Shanghai, clearly positioning the hotel as a wellbeing destination. Open to residents and external guests, the spa offers private bathhouses, complete with hammam and a Russian banya, a well-equipped gym, and a yoga/Pilates studio. The vast range of treatments includes everything from oxygen facials to private yoga lessons to singing bowl healing sessions. Furthermore, the wellbeing concept also incorporates science driven tests, such as hair analysis, as well as programs that draw on Traditional Chinese Medicine including acupuncture. Whether you are looking for a wellness overhaul or just some time out, the therapists at Amanyangyun respond to a guest’s individual needs with customized treatments, personalized fitness advice and tailored programs.
TRAVEL IN STYLE
Amanyangyun attracts a number of guests from the city who come for meetings, dinners or spa visits. Therefore, the dress code is still “casually elegant” even though the hotel boasts a relaxed resort vibe.
WHEN YOU SHOULD GO
The best time to visit is late March or from September to November. The short autumn season offers comfortable temperatures and lacks the crowds and rain showers of summer (peak tourism season). July and August are generally unpleasantly hot and humid. Winters can be chilly and might make sightseeing a bit less enjoyable.
The Courtyard Suite starts at US$1,000 per night, and the four-bedroom Antique Villa at US$10,000 per night.