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Amandayan, China: Ampersand's Inside View

Amandayan, China: Ampersand's Inside View

We were extremely fortunate to be one of Amandayan’s first guests. In typically effortless Aman style, there were none of the teething issues that are usually par for the course for a new opening – in fact, Amandayan turned out to be our favourite of the Aman Resorts in China, if not our favourite hotel in China! Read on to find out why…

Amandayan Lijiang China Charlie FAM 6
Just two weeks after the Amandayan's doors opened, we were lucky enough to find ourselves walking through them into the cavernous entrance hall of radiant wooden pillars, panelling and traditional southwest Chinese lattice-work. The coincidence of the opening and our research trip to the pretty town of Lijiang in South West China was both serendipitous and envy-provoking among my colleagues.

Amandayan is the latest arrival in the Aman Resort family: Architect Ed Tuttle (an Aman design veteran) sought inspiration from the traditional architectural styles of the local Naxi people (descended from Tibetan nomads who left the plateau and settled northwest Yunnan province over 1,000 years ago). The consistently graceful and clean design is typical of Aman: contemporary and luxurious yet unarguably a deeply-considered product of its environment.

Amandayan Lijiang China Charlie FAM 1
The setting at the heart of Lijiang Old Town is a real plus. This fabled town is crisscrossed with quaint stone-paved alleys. Small canals and streams adorn these thoroughfares which are all presided over by heavily blossoming willow trees and typically-Chinese, sloping tiled roofs. In the centre of the Old Town lies Lion Hill and proudly stood atop the hill is Amandayan. And yet, there is no sense of being exposed to the town below. The resort is literally a stone's throw from the town but enjoys a peaceful sense of complete removal. The smattering of surrounding trees manage to create a sense of privacy and sanctuary without limiting light or panoramas.

The exclusive views offered over the rooftops of the town are simply peerless, particularly in the early morning when the sun slips over the mountain tops and rays dart slantingly through the fresh alpine air. On one side of the property is a small pagoda where guests can enjoy a private, candlelit dinner with far reaching views to distant mountain peaks and a golden Buddhist stupa.

Amandayan Lijiang China Charlie FAM 3
The Courtyard Suites and the Deluxe Suites are identical in design with the exception that the ground floor Courtyard Suites have an elegant stone floor while the first floor Deluxe Suites have wood flooring to match the rest of the interior and a gabled ceiling. The Deluxe Suites also offer better views from their higher vantage point and are, in my humble opinion, worth the extra cost.

The beauty of the suites is in their simplicity. There is a sense feeling of space and a complete absence of clutter yet inclusion of everything one could want to feel, relaxed, at home and spoiled. The spacious, walk-in wardrobe and the bright but soft lighting around the bathroom mirrors are great features of convenience in the bathroom. Meanwhile the lovingly manicured banzai tree on a pedestal is one of the subtle decorative flourishes that add character.

Amandayan Lijiang China Charlie FAM 9
A morning swim in the pool felt like a glorious throwback to another era. The heated, 20m outdoor pool is surrounded by more wood-panelling with lattice-screened doors which house the spa. The simplicity and absence of the intrusion of visible modernity made us feel we were swimming laps in a Ming-dynasty teahouse-cum-massage parlour. There was just us, the water, and a stealthily-placed tea set, steaming and within reach of the shallow end.

Sadly the spa was not yet open when we visited but we caught a sneak peak of treatment rooms equally as uncluttered and modernity-unencumbered as the suites. Round wooden bathtubs, like the bottom halves of great, oaken wine casks, stood waiting for inhabitants to unravel under the expert ministrations of a therapeutic body scrub before moving to the bed for a signature Aman treatment (likely incorporating selected wisdom from traditional Chinese medicine).

Amandayan Lijiang China Charlie FAM 10
We enjoyed a meal of countless courses and dishes in the Chinese restaurant Man Yi Xuan ('Lingering Peace') which was a true marathon. From exquisite Cantonese-style prawn dumplings and rich ginseng chicken soup to crispy duck skin and spicy Sichuan fare. This feast left us happily staggering but still unable to turn down a desert of homemade almond ice cream washed down with a couple of whiskeys from an enviable selection. Breakfast (taken in the The Lounge) was an utterly comprehensive feast that decided to not discriminate between the various different western approaches to morning dining and simply serve them all. 

There is also an in house museum (opposite the traditional Tea House which promises to be wonderful) being developed in collaboration with National Geographic. The museum will house information, photographs and original artefacts relating to the famed Austrian-American Botanist Joseph Rock who made Lijiang his home for several years before the 1949 Communist revolution. The museum was not quite ready when we saw it but, being open only to guests, it will be the best and most peaceful way to learn more about the life of this intrepid explorer-botanist.

Amandayan Lijiang China Charlie FAM 8
China is a rapidly opening luxury destination. In fact, it is wide open and fast expanding. Remote Yunnan province is a pocket of history, beauty and tradition that should never be overlooked. We have found that Amandayan is more than just a juicy incentive to visit the delightful town of Lijiang. The wonders of Lijiang could now be seen as a good excuse to treat oneself to an unforgettable stay at Amandayan.

For more information on Amandayan or to start planning your tailor-made China holiday get in touch with us:   /  +44 (0) 207 819 9770

Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
Ampersand’s preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet booking age. They were a delight to deal with!
- Mr David Wallace, North India
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India

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