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A Place of Peace

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1 June 2008 by Amy Sohanpaul

Amanyara is as isolated as it gets on the carribbean island of Providenciales, situated in almost a hundred acres of national park on the Northwest Point and at the end of a rather rough and dusty road. This doesn’t stop it from being the place on the island that locals make a regular and mandatory pilgrimage to, in order to watch the sunset. Of course there are more accessible beaches lining the island from which to watch this celestial routine, but none of them come close to the terrace at Amanyara, which provides a perfect viewing platform as the sun grows bigger and glows brighter as it slips away, its reflection burning bright in the infinity pool and brighter still in the ocean beyond. With or without a cocktail in hand, this is the perfect place to be. Somehow, whichever country the Aman group choose to open a new resort in, they seem to have the unerring ability to pick the most perfect spot, and then ensure that the surroundings play a starring role in the production. This is not a company that builds a high rise here and a condo complex there, imposing them on the landscape. At an Aman hotel, the landscape influences the building, not the other way around. At every Aman resort I’ve stayed in, terraces are cleverly positioned to catch the best breeze and the ultimate view, rooms or villas are tucked discreetly into hillsides, beaches or jungles in such a way that the beautiful natural landscape is as much a part of the decor as the beds and baths. The identical rooms here - or pavilions, the word room doesn’t quite do justice to the stand-alone structures - are no exception.

Sited along beach coves or amidst serene ponds, they have views in almost every direction, as three of the ’walls’ are really floor to ceiling glass windows, so there is always a beautiful vista within sight. When every window is open, light and air flow through, bringing the outside in. There’s a timber deck for serious lounging, with vast cushions and a sense of palpable peace. Ducks bob by, a heron stands to attention, lizards pause in the hope of remaining undetected, a breeze rustles through the leaves and ruffles the water ever so slightly. Nothing else happens, although from the beach pavilions, surf can be seen breaking against the shore from time to time. Inside the pavilions, the same sense of serenity prevails, there’s nothing here to jar the senses. All is polished wood and natural tones and total symmetry. Beds are massive platforms raised above teak and terrazzo flooring, the bath is an elegant freestanding affair, the shower is a waterfall in a separate room, his and hers sinks stand on opposite sides with an ottoman in between. Every need has been meticulously designed for, and thought about. Sun and aftersun creams are provided; every superior snack in the mini bar from chocolate-coated crackers to mini-macaroons is complimentary, as are all phone calls. Small touches, but thoughtful ones. It would be all too easy to just stay put in such well-designed hideouts for days without leaving. Certainly if one was staying in one of the villas here - there are 33 available for rent or hire-it would be possible to stay put for weeks not days.

In these a butler is on stand-by, a private pool is on hand, bathrooms are indoor and out, and if work calls, there’s a separate office pavilion to answer the phone in and to tell people that you would love to help but lunch is being served at your outdoor dining table. But to remain ensconced in a pavilion, or villa, delightful as they are, would be to miss out on the bigger Aman experience. For if the private spaces are delightful, the public ones are a dream of design, where function and form meet happily. Emphasis here, as in every Aman resort, is on elegance, on the finest materials, on creating a feeling of serenity, on showcasing the landscape. So the dining and public pavilions seem to float and shimmer in their setting of ponds and pools, every now and again a window appears in the timber skeleton walls that line walkways, placed just so to frame the sea and sky as ever-changing masterpieces. Breakfast on the dining terrace, lunch at the beach club and dinner in the restaurant all offer visual as well as delicious virtual feasts. A flimsy white sail against a deep blue mighty ocean. Waves rolling and splashing against sand and rock. Candlelight and starlight playing on the waters of a reflecting pool.

The scenic show isn’t just for mealtimes. Cushions and seating are strategically and liberally placed in every nook with a view, even the circular walls of the bar are cut out to provide lounging opportunities. From here every scene is pleasing to the eye - inside the bar, the golden, wooden ceiling soars cathedral-like, while the counter is a sunken work of art. Outside, waves crash against the ironshore rocky coves, suspending spray above the infinity pool, which is lined with black volcanic rock. Again this is style with substance, and not just for dramatic effect. The rock is non-slip, and feels more organic than tiles, in keeping with the eco-ethos here. Three strategically placed ’salas’ for relaxing in are dotted around the pool, open-sided wooden pavilions that provide sun and shade and deep cushioned comfort. There are more strenuous activities on offer, with a fitness centre and clay tennis courts on site. But the beach beckons most alluringly. A sweeping stretch of fine white sand, Amanyara’s beach is a fine point of entry to a world of cerulean waves and miles of coral reef. Catamarans sail boards, ocean kayaks are all available, and the snorkelling is good and the diving even better.

The reef by the hotel is part of a marine national park rich in coral and sea life - dolphins, sharks, turtles, rays are all regularly spotted. And for those who’d rather just stay ashore in Aman comfort - a seat on a terrace at the right time of year is as good a place as any to watch humpback whales drift past on their annual winter migration. I’d be perfectly happy to do as they do and return yearly for a winter migration of my own.

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