Hotel Review: Tatler Checks Into…Amanyangyun, Shanghai
February 5, 2018 | BY Cheryl Chan
Discreet, luxurious and modern. These are words that immediately come to mind when one thinks of the Aman brand.
An hour's drive from Pudong airport lies Amanyangyun, a tranquil woodland sanctuary that will allow you to escape the hustle and bustle of the cosmopolitan city of Shanghai. This nature rich resort is the fourth Aman destination in China, and the latest expansion in their long list of luxury properties.
But this isn't any other luxury stay. With antique villas and a forest of 10,000 trees relocated from the Jiangxi province in Fuzhou acting as the backbone of Amanyangyun as part of an ambitious 15-year architectural and ecological conservation project, this is an experience that allows you to travel back in time and truly submerge yourself in ancient Chinese culture.
We take an exclusive first look at the resort.
The minute the car turned into the sanctuary, it was as if I had left all my troubles behind in the city. The air was serene and the design, minimalist. I was ushered into a spacious lobby that while completely enclosed, had an amazing amount of light streaming through intricate wooden screens.
While the lobby was inviting and cosy, it did not prepare me for the lush greenery that I was about to be greeted with on the other side of their sealed (it was winter after all) doors. My guide dramatically pushed open the heavy doors to reveal verdant trees and blue skies with plenty of natural sunlight streaming in—a feature I soon learnt permeated every living space possible, from the rooms to the restaurants.
As my guide grinned when he noticed the look of amazement plastered on my face, I could tell that the reveal must be one of his favourite things about the job. It would be mine too if I had the privilege to face such stunning scenery every day.
Do Not Disturb
What set this particular resort apart from any of the other Aman properties was that it was a 15-year conservation project in the making. Antique houses were dissembled brick by brick and brought over from the province of Jiangxi and meticulously restored by Kerry Hill Architects—the same firm behind Aman Tokyo—to create 26 luxury Antique Villas.
While the exterior has been preserved to keep their original look, the inside balances the traditional features of the outside, housing refined wooden interiors that reflect Aman's signature Asian-inflected minimalist design aesthetic.
And to balance the old with the new, 24 Ming Courtyard Suites were newly created to harmoniously complement their historic counterparts. And at a spacious 65 square meters, each pay tribute to the structure of the classic Chinese courtyard home, with two private courtyards attached to every suite, giving you the chance to live like the upper echelons of the Ming and Qing dynasty.
Keen to learn the ways of 17th-century China's literati? At the heart of the retreat lies the Nan Shu Fang. Named after the royal reading pavilion in the Forbidden City, this cultural complex is a modern day recreation of a scholar's studio and guests are welcome to immerse themselves in traditional crafts such as calligraphy, traditional tea and incense ceremonies, flower arrangement and painting.
P.S. In case you need a souvenir of your time there, the staff are more than happy to get trigger-happy for you. We even spotted a hotel staff getting down to her elbows to help one couple get the perfect shot at their tea ceremony.
Food & Drink
With five different restaurants and bars at the resort, there's bound to be something that will suit every palate.
For those who are keen to try the local cuisine, Chinese restaurant Lazhu packs a spicy punch with an array of Chinese dishes like grilled carp (a Jiangxi classic), stir-fried pork belly and crab meat soup dumplings. Fans of Western fare can look to Arva, a restaurant that draws inspiration from Italy’s farm-to-table gastronomic tradition, showcasing signature dishes like pasta and sharing plates in a warm and convivial atmosphere. At Nama, Executive Chef Keiji Matoba brings the flavour-led simplicity of Japan’s washoku tradition to Amanyangyun. A menu of authentic, uncomplicated and elegant dishes combines the classic techniques of the Japanese kitchen with the finest and freshest ingredients available locally.
If the Nan Shu Fang is the spiritual heart of the resort, then the spa is the crown jewel of the Amanyangyun. The resort takes wellness seriously and their spa is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the Aman collection, boasting eight treatment rooms, two double spa suites, extensive relaxation areas, a sauna, plunge pool, Jacuzzi, an indoor and outdoor pool as well as two private spa houses each offering a suite of thermal facilities, including a Russian banya and Turkish hammam.
The spa also houses a trained physician (who also doubles up as a qigong master) that combine the ancient healing practices of traditional Chinese medicine with the pioneering advancements of 21st-century wellbeing technology.
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