The Story

In 1993, Aman embarked on a unique journey in Moyo Island in the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago – a destination with a pristine underwater realm and remarkable history that has fascinated explorers and travellers for decades. 

This symbiotic union between Aman and Moyo Island, which has been a protected nature reserve since 1976, traces its origins back to the friendship of Sumbawa-born Admiral Abdulkadir, once the Indonesian Ambassador in Tanzania; Australian explorer Barry Lees; and Bill O'Leary, a former mariner and a pilot. With the help of Abdulkadir, Aman was granted special permission by the Indonesian government to create a luxury resort, provided they ensured that the island’s ecosystem remained unharmed.

In 1989, a friend introduced architect Jean-Michel Gathy to Aman, who was enlisted to lead the design project of an Aman resort on Moyo Island. After visiting the tropical paradise, Jean-Michel Gathy dreamed up a one-of-a-kind camp where each of the rooms would be housed within its own, standalone tent. He hoped that guests would wake up beneath the soaring canvas ceilings and be able to step straight on to the pristine beach or turn and go exploring in the jungle, perhaps observing the local wildlife on the way. Afterwards, they could retreat to their air-conditioned residence, or relax and watch the wandering deer on their private terrace—not a single tree was felled to build the camp, which consists of just 20 tents.

“Amanwana has an important place in my memory because it was the first project where we did the architecture, the interior, the landscape, and even the construction. Amanwana is the ultimate example of ‘less is more’ philosophy: it's a simple place, but it has a soul - in 1989 when we did the design, it was the first of its kind – a revolution. Guests love Amanwana because of that, and that makes my heart warm” - Jean-Michel Gathy
Amanwana, the 'peaceful forest', opened in 1993 to immediate acclaim and was described by Condé Nast as having pioneered the luxury tented camp. Barry Lees, who discovered the Matajitu Waterfall, was appointed as the resort's Resident Naturalist, while Bill O'Leary became Amanwana's first General Manager. The opening of Amanwana kicked off a long collaboration between Aman and Jean-Michel Gathy, which continues to this day.