Visited but not vetted. As you know, there are certain five-star hotel brands that are continually reliable, truth be told, I’ve rarely been disappointed in an Aman property. One finicky note, a particular beach resort had an un-swimmable beach and the shrubbery needed to fill in for privacy – most luxury travel curators are extremely picky for good reason – they share their findings with their very discerning clients. Thus, why I schlepp a 60-pound suitcase all over the globe, the importance of site inspections and visits are vital to our client happiness.
My recent visit to Greece was overwhelmingly positive, so much so, that I hope to return in spring for a second visit. I enjoyed a day trip to the sold out Amanzoe, the drive is a scenic 2.5-hour drive from Athens or a 40-minute helicopter hop to land on property near Porto Heli, Greece. Some of the most distinctive welcome ceremonies are practiced by the Aman resorts; I’ve been transfixed by prayers and blessings, thrilled by scented towels representing multiple fragrances created by an Aman hotel, they have perfected the welcome. Setting the stage for the remainder of the visit.
Aman junkies will be deliriously happy in the land of myths and legends, amid the rocky rolling Argolid hillsides of the Peloponnese. According to ancient Greek mythology the Peloponnese is where the gods walked the earth. The elegant breathtaking resort, like the Acropolis, is situated on a hilltop surrounded by olive groves, underplanted rows of fragrant lavender, and spectacular views of the deep blue Aegean Sea. Oh, did I mention the soundtrack of the cicada summer symphony?
Amanzoe derives from the Sanskrit word for peace, Aman, and the Greek word for life, zoe. You may arrive with goals and purpose to explore the area; be forewarned, you may succumb to the peerless panoramic views, the elegant yet casual, beach club vibe or the stress reducing spa, the largest in the Aman hotel group.
If inclined to tour the area, I would opt for renting a car or at least hiring a driver for one way to appreciate the picturesque views spanning the eastern Peloponnese peninsula. If you desire day trips from the resort, a car is important, or you use a driver for exploration; perhaps once you see the stunning resort, you may not be inclined to leave your luminous pavilion perch or the elegant beach club, I can imagine both scenarios.
The setting and the architecture is majestic, 360-degree views take in the coast, the rocky coves and the shimmering seas. Dotted across the hillside, Amanzoe’s luxurious white Pavilions and Villas are classically inspired and contemporary in attitude. Each guest has their own private marble-edged pavilion sited for maximum privacy. All are restfully tailored with pale whitish walls, natural stone features and accented with native pine, duplicating the ancient hillsides and ruins. Pavilions have various size pools, and the large family Pavilions, 4-6 bedrooms, are enhanced by larger pools, open common areas with screening facilities and full kitchens for your in-house chef, a mini-compound.
The pure white structures unabashedly conjure the classic Parthenon, the grounds include numerous water features, olive groves and an amphitheater. Ancient architecture meets modern amenities. The ‘Aman way’, utter devotion and dedication to beautiful settings, tranquility and perfect service is a deliberate nod to the Greek gods.
A James Turrell art installation is featured in a spectacular slightly off property, 1-Bedroom Villa features an immersive art installation entitled ‘Sky Plain’ by world-renowned artist James Turrell. Known as a Skyspace, it takes the form of a cubic structure with a large ceiling aperture, open to the Peloponnese sky above Amanzoe. In addition, the villa comprises a master bedroom, 22-meter private pool, kitchen, extensive shaded terraces and living room.
“Without light, there is no life. Amanzoe means ‘peaceful life’ and I hope those who experience this work will feel a peaceful sense of the power of the light.”
On property: Speedboats for island-hopping excursions, serene private beach club, two swimming pools, gym, yoga studio, tennis courts, boutique, library, amphitheater, heli pad. Beach club is 10 min by Aman shuttle whenever you desire. Beach club pools: two 25-meter lap pools and a sheltered bay to swim in, sandy beach or loungers under the massive umbrellas. Kayaks and simple sailing boats, all complimentary. Kiddy pool. Two hammams, beauty salon, Ancient wellness spa.Pergola sheltered mini pool. Pavilions have plunge for au natural swimmers.
Additional infinity edge pool on main property, countryside views with sapphire hued Aegean sparkling on the horizon. The sea is thought to named after Aegeus, the father of Theseus, who drowned himself in the sea when he thought his son had died on his famous expedition to Crete to defeat the Minotaur. Sea algae is invisible to the eye, but it colors the water green. The water in the Mediterranean does not have enough nutrients to support the growth of sea algae, thus the blue blessing, it stays in its natural color.
The Beach Club has added a few small cabanas which you can rent for the day, so you can stay at the beach without the need to go back to the main resort. A small pool is included, these Cabana rooms can also be reserved for a few nights stay, however, they are basically studio size.
Dining: From Nama’s Japanese cuisine to the Restaurant’s Mediterranean fare, Amanzoe places the focus on simple flavors, expertly prepared. Daily deliveries of local bass, bream, grouper and crustacean, as well as locally reared lamb, pork and rabbit, make Amanzoe a champion of produce that is local and seasonal – all served in the airy Restaurant, with its deep-blue sea views, by the pool, at the informal Beach Club. The Beach club has an eclectic menu, including Greek favorites and the local large red shrimp known as tigania.
Amanzoe, surrounded by undulating olive groves and overlooking the turquoise Aegean Sea, is a ten-minute drive from the tavernas and cosmopolitan stirrings of Porto Heli, Greece. The isles of Spetses and Hydra are nearby, as are countless ancient ruins, from millennia-old amphitheaters to Byzantine monasteries.
Visit the ancient farmhouse nearby for breakfast with the owners, visit the bee keeper and take home local honey – the property has a 19-page offering of activities and sightseeing on its site…You won’t run out of activity options if you don’t succumb to the Zen like Amanzoe allure, under the spell of Amanzoe.
Sightseeing nearby: the pine tree forest area of Spetses is close by– iconic fishing ports and traditional white washed stucco villages. Accessible via water taxi, the car-free Spetses is known for its sea-faring traditions, neoclassical mansions and horse-drawn carriages. Quaint villages and verdant pine forests can be explored by scooter, quad bike or bicycle.
The wealth of nearby archaeological sites includes the sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus. This vast masterpiece of Greek architecture, dedicated to the gods of Epidaurus, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to temples and an amphitheater.
The starkly beautiful Peloponnese landscape suits treks of all kinds. Visit Byzantine chapels and Mycenaean tombs or discover the verdant peninsula of the Bisti Forest at Ermioni – all are within easy reach
Hydra, to the east, is popular with the private and charter yacht peeps. Exploring the hilly island without cars, is best done by foot or donkey or by boat.
Just over an hour inland, don’t miss Epidaurus, an ancient, Unesco-protected amphitheater flanked by a wealth of Hellenic ruins.
For a more back-to-nature day trip, make a stop at Dokos, a rocky outcrop populated primarily by monks and resident sheep-herders. Divers will want to seek out the world’s oldest shipwreck, a cargo vessel from the early Helladic period that lies just off the Dokos coast.
Have you looked at your calendar and blocking out a month in Greece? Let us help you design a visit in the style of a Greek God!
Hotel Closed – Annually, from 1 November to 31 March inclusive.