“At Aman, we place a huge emphasis on simple, pared-back architecture and design”, says Chief Operating Officer, Roland Fasel. “It has always been important to us that the properties blend seamlessly into their environments and celebrate the destination – an approach which has changed little since our inception nearly 30 years ago.”
Take Amanzoe in the Greek Peloponnese, which was inspired by classical Greek architecture. At the heart of the Ed Tuttle-designed 38-suite property is a contemporary take on an acropolis: the social hub of the resort, complete with a library, gallery, open-air lounges and restaurants; but ancient references can also be seen in the striking columned walkways and amphitheatre. Marble and stone (which are, according to Tuttle, “the most basic and noble materials of Greece”) are predominant and have been used everywhere from the tiled floors of each guest pavilion’s swimming pool, to the dry stone cladding around oak doors.
Another example is Amangiri in Utah, which, says Fasel, is “a contemporary interpretation of native Indian architecture.” Designed by architects Rick Joy, Marwan Al-Sayad and Wendell Burnett, who collaborated on the project, the hotel is a series of low-level, minimalist concrete blocks that have been cast so they look almost like stone and blend in with the cliff they sit on. From the central pavilion and swimming pool, which wraps around a rock escarpment, there are two wings of suites, each entered via rock archways. Custom-designed interiors include a bed and sofa carved from the same stone island and materials such as hides, leathers, and blackened and forged steel.
“We like to give the architects a certain amount of artistic freedom to help develop the design aesthetic of the hotel”, says Fasel. “It’s a case of selecting architects who understand the Aman philosophy, which means that we can collaborate successfully to create properties that are in line with our vision, but that are also representative of local materials and techniques.”
In the case of architect Kerry Hill, who is behind Amankora in Bhutan (he also designed two Aman hotels in Japan), that meant designing traditional dzong-inspired architecture, with gently sloping roofs and wood-panelled interiors. Amankora Paro, one of five lodges dotted around the country, is conceptualised as a ‘village’ and set within a conifer forest. Buildings have rammed earth walls (a refinement of the indigenous mud building techniques), while the ceilings and walls of the guestrooms are wrapped in timber for a cocooning effect. Fabrics throughout are woven and dyed in a typical fashion and, where possible, fibres such as nettle, yak hair and wool have been used.
Similarly, when architect Jean-Michel Gathy was set the task of transforming the fortified village of Sveti Stefan in Montenegro (which is connected to the land by a narrow isthmus) into a hotel, he referenced local history. Inside the suites, simple Slovenian oak furniture is complemented by low lighting, and – alluding to the tradition of olive-growing on the island – decorative metal farming utensils and ceramic plates. As Fasel concludes: “the purpose is to create an authentic, local experience for our guests, which is true to each particular site and place.”
London-based freelance journalist Emma Love specialises in writing about interiors, design and travel for titles such as Elle Decoration and Condé Nast Traveller, where she is a contributing editor. She also writes for publications such as the Financial Times and the Guardian.