A hidden jewel at Java’s centre Amanjiwo rests in the shadows of the largest Buddhist temple complex in the world, Borobudur, which reopens to visitors from 1 March 2023.
Heightening our appreciation of sensory experiences, these travel-starved times have us yearning for the sights, scents, tastes of new places and unfamiliar lands. A chemistry of the senses at play which trigger unexpected thrills and elicit that ever-elusive feeling of wholeness and ultimate contentment.
Whether expanding the mind or elevating the spirit, these destinations create rich sensory landscapes from the seemingly smallest of details.
Central Java is a place of visual spectacle. Volcanoes tower over a great green sweep of valley and plain. Rice fields tumble unevenly like steps down the hillside. And, coronated with mists, the stone stupas of Borobudur emerge from the forest canopy.
An architectural echo of Borobudur, sculpted from cream Palimanan limestone, the resort offers views of Borobudur and the four volcanoes that surround it.
It’s small wonder that this extraordinary setting sends artists reaching for their watercolours. The importance of the visual extends to Javanese cultural practices, too. To the sound of local musicians, Ramayana dance performances bring one of the founding epic stories of civilisation to life in a whirl of colour and movement.
To reach out and touch the salmon-pink pisé walls of Marrakech is to make a connection with hundreds of years of history. In places the Red City’s ramparts stand up to four meters high and two metres thick, and the weight of the memories they carry – stretching back to the 11th century – is almost tangible. Marrakech itself is a city of sensations, where the warmth on the sun on your skin, the clamour of the souk and the scent of spices on the air combine to flood the senses. Outside the city walls, Amanjena offers respite from the rush of sensation – a welcome dose of serenity in the cool of the shade, the brush of palm leaves on the skin, and the gentle babble of the fountains.
From the otherworldly spectacle of the Agafay Desert and the towering majesty of the Atlas Mountains, to the refreshing aromas of peppermint tea in a Berber Village, sensory inspiration of all kinds abounds in and around Amanjena, but in the Aman Spa, the sense of touch is paramount. Here, the hands of expert therapists deftly massage exfoliating blends of natural local ingredients into the skin, including argan oil, prickly pear, and sabon beldi – black-olive skin. In the heat of the hammam, skilled therapists apply the famous Rhassoul clay of the Atlas Mountains as a body mask, to soften and regenerate the skin.
Aman Tokyo, Japan
The olfactory system, through which we experience scent, is closely connected to the areas of the brain responsible for processing emotions and forming memories – hence the power of smell to influence our moods, remind us of past experiences and invoke feelings of nostalgia.
At Aman Tokyo, scent is integral to every stay. The Furo baths in the guest rooms and the spa are accompanied by buckets and stools made from Hinoki wood – Japanese cypress – a scent known to calm the mind and relax the body. In Japan, where 70% of the land is still covered with forest, Hinoki is the quintessential aroma of nature, so Aman Tokyo blends it into in its bespoke bath products to ensure that all guests are transported to the natural world even amid the metropolis.
Kuromoji, the spicebush, is another of the most celebrated fragrances in Japanese culture. In the days of the samurai, the peace of the tea room was sacrosanct; there were no superiors or enemies – all were equal. Known for its ability to soothe, kuromoji was used to create utensils for the sweets eaten during the ceremony, and cultivate an atmosphere of calm.
Today, it is used to create a tension-easing fragrant oil and features in the Aman Spa’s two-hour Kuromoji Tea Journey, which features a massage with this powerful oil and body wrap to release stress.
Aman Venice, Italy
Through its restaurant Arva and immersive dining experiences at the Palazzo kitchen, Aman Venice celebrates the country’s culinary heritage and the unique gastronomy of the Veneto region with its ‘Cook the Lagoon’ philosophy and flavour-first focus on local ingredients. The menu has been enhanced by the culinary imagination of consultant chef Norbert Niederkolfer, who has earned Restaurant St. Hubertus of the Rosa Alpina Hotel three Michelin stars.
Favourites include the castraure of Sant’Erasmo – the first artichoke buds of spring; bruscandoli (young shoots of hops), which add a sublime depth to risotto. One of the most extraordinary tastes of Venice is miele di Barena, the lagoon’s distinctive honey, which gains its unique flavour from the unique vegetation that grows on the Venetian sandbanks.
When several senses combine, the experience is always enhanced. Crusing the Grand Canal on Aman Venice’s boat, the platter of chef-prepared cicchetti and the glass of the hotel’s own prosecco enrich the magical sight of sunset on the lagoon – the perfect storm of sight, scent, flavour and – serenaded by the noises of the city at dusk – sound.
The gong in Amanpuri’s arrival pavilion is struck to mark every arrival and departure – inspired by a Buddhist tradition whereby the monks of the temple would sound the gong to tell the villagers that an important ceremony was starting or ending. The soothing sound reverberates through the palms, creating a profound sense of calm, deepened by the jasmine fragrance of the floral garland that welcomes guests to the resort.
Sound is at the heart of the entire Amanpuri experience, from the melody of the gamelan playing at the poolside on Friday evenings to the ever-present whisper of the palm trees in the breeze and the swash of the waves on the Andaman Sea. At the Holistic Wellness Centre, spa treatments are bookended with the music of singing bowls, which sends the mind into a relaxed and mediative state. Surrounded by rainforest, the meditation room encourages moments of mindfulness to an all-natural jungle soundscape of birdsong and rustling leaves.
AMAN FINE FRAGRANCE
From the coconut and lemongrass aromas of Amanpuri in Phuket to the breeze and blossom of Tokyo in springtime, Aman’s Fine Fragrances are precision-blended to stir up memories of Aman destinations, evoking the distinctive surroundings of our seven retreats – from city to island, desert to jungle.
Drawing on the connection between scent, emotion and memory, each fragrance in the inaugural collection offers a different window to the world of Aman.
No request is too great and no detail too small. We are also here to assist you before your trip begins.