Chinese diplomat Zhou Daguan’s detailed account of his visit to Angkor in 1296 gives a vivid portrayal of daily life in Jayavarman VII’s royal court. He describes elephant tusks encased in gold and apsara – the heavenly nymphs that inspired Amansara’s name – dancing to the king’s whim.
Carved in stone on walls slowly reclaimed by nature, Angkor’s apsara witnessed tumultuous periods in Cambodia’s history over the next 700-odd years. But their enigmatic smiles seem to imply that they knew it would all work out in the end.
The political turmoil of the 1970s and 1980s took a serious toll on the villa’s elegant structures and verdant grounds. By the time that national peace was restored in the early 1990s, the property was derelict. Utterly abandoned, with glassless windows and unpainted walls, by 2002 the only trace of its former glory was its architectural bones.
Practiced in the art of restoration, Aman knew that this was enough to gently breathe this sleeping beauty back to life. Drawing on old photographs, Aman meticulously reconstructed every aspect of the property, and Amansara – its name meaning ‘heavenly peace’ – finally opened its doors on 15 January 2003, welcoming guests with 12 spacious suites.