Aman | Unique Festive Celebrations In Tropical Destinations
As the festive season– a time of celebration and togetherness– approaches, Aman truly embodies this spirit.
On the eve of the brand’s 30th anniversary year, the 2017 festivities promise to be the finest yet. Revealed here are a few of the unique celebrations and events taking place at five of Aman’s iconic properties: the home of Aman, Amanpuri, where brand’s two new global culinary concepts take centre stage; the tropical island paradise of Amanpulo celebrating its 25th anniversary throughout 2018; the cultural Meccas of Amanbagh in rural Rajasthan and Amansara near the ruins of Angkor; and the idyllic pristine and peaceful Caribbean retreat of Amanyara.
AMANPURI, Phuket, Thailand
Tucked away on a private peninsula with a secluded white-sand beach, Amanpuri is a “place of peace” and Aman’s founding resort, a destination unto itself at any time of the year, ideally located in the centre of Phuket’s fabled west coast. Yet in the lead up to Christmas and through the New Year, it becomes even more magical: The weather is at its most ideal, the setting incomparable, and the season’s calendar full to the brim with events and activities to suit all tastes.
This year, dining takes centre stage, as Amanpuri leads Aman’s culinary vision with the recent introduction of a duo of new culinary concepts. Nama offers exquisitely crafted sushi and sashimi at the heart of a menu celebrating Washoku, which translates to harmony in food, while Arva pays tribute to Italy’s rich culinary heritage, inspired by the robust flavours and simple, locally-sourced ingredients of the cucina semplice tradition. These new concepts join the resort’s renowned Thai Restaurant, Beach Club, Beach Terrace, as well as The Lounge inspired by the tastes and cocktails of Latin America.Mid-December marks the beginning of Amanpuri’s festive season, with regular Beach BBQs, ‘Jalisco’ and ‘Noche Peruviana’ Nights at The Lounge, ‘Robata Grill Soirees’ at Nama and ‘Capri Jazz’ Nights at the Beach Club from 12 December onwards. Nightly DJ sets and other unique events will also take place. These include ‘Moroccan Souk’ at the Beach Club on 28 December, a gourmet feast for the senses inspired by the colours, sounds and spices of Marrakech; the ‘Rialto Market Dinner’ at the Beach Club on 4 January, a traditional market with Venetian-inspired classics, prosecco and a San Marco gelati trolley; and a Studio 54-inspired Beach BBQ on 6 January, a disco-themed night under the stars with live DJs.
At the heart of the season’s festivities is, of course, Christmas, with carols around the resort’s spectacular main swimming pool starting the celebrations on Christmas Eve. Afterwards, Nama will feature sushi, sashimi and tempura stations, and a must-try Matsusaka beef ‘shabu shabu’ hot pot, while the Beach Club hosts a grand gourmet live-cooking Christmas Eve banquet. Chilled seafood, salt-crusted seabass and roast turkey with all the trimmings will be served in an exotic garden setting alongside the pool, with the beach just steps away. Christmas Day itself will see decadent traditional and not-so-traditional Christmas lunches and dinners served at all of the resort’s dining venues, ensuring something for everyone.
Perhaps the highlight of Amanpuri’s festive calendar is New Year’s Eve, which will be celebrated with dinner and fireworks beside the main pool, followed by an after-party at the Beach Club. The last evening of 2017 will begin poolside with a dazzling ‘Tribal Carnival’ display of ethnic dances from Asia and South America. Amanpuri’s chefs will then guide guests through a lavish New Year’s Eve culinary extravaganza. As the countdown nears, Amanpuri’s iconic steps will be the ideal spot from which to watch a magnificent firework display heralding the New Year and, with it, Aman’s 30th anniversary. Guests can then dance the night away at the after party held at the Beach Club, with a DJ mixing until sunrise.
AMANPULO, Pamalican Island, Philippines
Pilipinas – or Christmas in the Philippines – is the nation’s favourite holiday, with celebrations lasting well into January. As always, guests of Amanpulo can expect a truly memorable festive season with white sands, warm sunshine and turquoise waters all around. The 2017 festive programme, however, is even more exciting than usual, as Amanpulo gears up to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Designed to complement the resort’s year-round activities and to delight all ages and tastes, Amanpulo will offer a full calendar of gourmet, adventure and pampering experiences to ensure a holiday guests will never forget. Similarly to Amanpuri, festive meals will be celebrated in exemplary island style, with inspiration taken from around the world in cuisines that reference the best of the Philippines, Spain, Italy and Japan, with drinks ranging from the traditional to the extraordinary (including 25th and 30th anniversary cocktails), and an ambience enhanced by unique events and the island’s magnificent natural setting.
Gourmet events will include Chef Michele’s ‘Bacaro on the Beach’ on 22 December and 1 January, a magnificent Italian antipasti spread and seafood BBQ; a Mediterranean-inspired dinner at the Picnic Grove on 28 December; and regular classes including Sunset Cocktail Making at the Beach Club, Cheese & Wine Pairing; Organic Herb & Cocktail Making; and a Rum, Chocolate & Cigar tasting.
Christmas Eve’s ‘Noche Buena’ Dinner, a Christmas dinner with classic Filipino fiesta dishes such as roast- suckling pig and pancit noodles, will be held in the Picnic Grove with live music late into the night. The next morning, all guests are welcome to join the Amanpulo community for Misa de Aguinaldo, Christmas Mass, beside the picturesque Island Grotto, followed by a colourful Manamoc Folk Dance performance. This will precede the arrival of Father Christmas, who will make a pitstop to visit the younger Amanpulo guests. A Seafood Christmas Fiesta lunch will be served at the Beach Club, and later a traditional Christmas dinner with roast turkey and all the trimmings can be enjoyed at the Clubhouse.
In the days leading up to New Year’s Eve, Amanpulo guests can experience Palawan’s beauty from the air on a chartered helicopter flight to Jewelmer, the region’s gold-lipped oyster farm producing coveted South Sea Pearls, or cross the strait to Manamoc Island to hike up Mount English and explore the local village. Amanpulo also has a number of professional watersport and fitness experts on hand, offering kiteboarding lessons with Mike Hirooka, sailing classes with Ridgely Balladares, tennis coaching with Richard Louie, personal training with Elmer Munar and Pilates with Victoria Mendoza. Also in residence over the festive period are Rohan Quarry Day, known as the ‘muscle whisperer’ for his bodywork and structural integration therapies, and Clint Pailago, an iridologist, reflexologist, herbal medicine practitioner and massage therapist.
The last evening of 2017 will begin poolside at the Clubhouse with a glamorous cocktail and canapé reception, or at the Beach Club toasting the setting sun. Both venues guarantee exceptional entertainment, a sumptuous multi-course meal and a party to remember: At the Clubhouse, a five-course wine-pairing degustation menu featuring caviar, lobster and Wagyu beef; and at the Beach Club, an a la carte Seafood & Champagne extravaganza.
AMANBAGH, Rajasthan, India
December and January are the most pleasant and popular months to visit Rajasthan, when summer’s intense heat has waned and the monsoon rains have blown away. With sun-kissed days and balmy nights, this is the time of year, when locals celebrate Christmas, getting into the spirit of the festive season with all the community, colour and soulful enthusiasm so typical of India’s “Land of Kings”.
Tucked into Rajasthan’s starkly beautiful Aravalli Hills on a lush garden estate, Amanbagh has planned their take on festive traditions, including Babu the resident camel who replaces Rudolph as Santa’s noble red-nosed steed every year on Christmas Day. This year’s calendar of events showcases all these traditions alongside a plethora of cultural activities and gourmet dining experiences.
The Christmas Eve Gala Dinner is an event anticipated all year. The haveli mansion-inspired resort glows with light, which appears to emanate from the traditional Christmas tree at its heart, helped along with candles and fires lit in every fireplace. Local musicians perform traditional music while Amanbagh’s chefs prepare a multi-course feast including both regional and international favourites. Christmas Day follows the same form, with traditional turkey and trimming offerings in every dining venue.
New Year’s Eve is sure to be the highlight of Amanbagh’s festive season. Celebrated as a traditional Rajasthani fair, it offers a glimpse into the future with fortunetellers and palm readers, exciting entertainment in the form of fire dancers and qawaali singers, and a seven-course banquet fit for a maharajah. After a late night and leisurely start to the first day of 2018, guests will get to experience the thrill of “The Sport of Kings” with a twist. In Amanbagh’s exceptional adaptation of this ancient game, camels replace horses as the polo players’ mounts.
As well as discovering rural village life and exploring Rajasthan’s historic ruins, palaces and forts, guests can experience aspects of Rajasthani culture, integrated into Amanbagh’s festive calendar. At various events including the New Year’s Eve Fair, local jewellers will make crimson lac bangles, gifting these to Aman guests. Mehndi artists will decorate hands, faces and feet with delicate temporary henna artwork, while intricate rangoli patterns from coloured rice, flowers and powder will decorate courtyards and welcome guests inside throughout the season.
AMANSARA, Siem Reap, Cambodia
The deep sense of spiritual bliss that pervades the temples of Angkor sets the scene for a more spiritual festive period at Amansara, situated just 10 minutes’ drive from the renowned archaeological park. Housed in the original guesthouse of the late King Norodom Sihanouk on a verdant estate, the resort’s newly renovated Roof Terrace Garden will open in late November, in good time for hosting Christmas Eve cocktails. Guests can then enjoy an extended Christmas dinner menu with a selection of delicious Christmas desserts and wine pairing options in the understated festive atmosphere of the Dining Room.
Offering unprecedented access to the temples with daily privately-guided sunrise and sunset excursions, Amansara would recommend that even Christmas Day should start with an early adventure to Ta Prohm, Angkor Wat, Bayon or perhaps even a secret temple forgotten by the guidebooks but well known to Amansara’s guides. Upon returning to the resort, Christmas day will be celebrated with a special al fresco brunch in the gardens, after which guests can relax by the pool, take some time out in the Aman Spa or even cycle around Siem Reap.
The standout event in Amansara’s festive calendar is New Year’s Eve, which this year will be hosted in the grounds of the atmospheric 10th-century temple of Prasat Kravan. Beautifully lit and surrounded by jungle, the temple will witness an al fresco Khmer banquet beneath the stars, and entertainment taking guests on a journey through Cambodian performing arts from the traditional to the contemporary. Performances will include the Sacred Dancers of Angkor, young girls gracefully bringing to life the stone Apsara dancers on the ruined temple walls, and Phare, the Cambodian Circus, a Cirque du Solei-esque acrobatic extravaganza. Dishes will showcase the freshest, most unique Cambodian ingredients possible, and will include Beef Shank Caramel, a classic Khmer dish, Kampot Crab, coconut waffles and chili infused chocolate ganache. The evening will end with the floating of pratip offerings down the river, and then fireworks and Champagne back at the resort’s main swimming pool – a night to remember in every way. New Year’s Day lunch will be the perfect foil to the night before, a relaxed affair with a unique Lotus Lunch highlighting the fun playfulness of Khmer food including crispy lotus seed filled spring rolls with tamarind chutney, sea bass baked in a lotus leaf and a selection of lotus inspired desserts.
AMANYARA, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos
As the Caribbean recovers from the after effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Turks & Caicos are eager to welcome visitors back to their shores this festive season. Perched on the secluded west coast of Providenciales, Amanyara is as pristine as ever, with its 800m expanse of beach lapped by the turquoise waters of a marine reserve teeming with sea life.
Known for its scuba diving, its unparalleled setting and making family memories that last a lifetime, Amanyara’s festive calendar celebrates ‘The Colours of the Turks & Caicos’, drawing inspiration from the national costume: Brilliant white is redolent of its beaches, and the eight rainbow bands represent each of the inhabited islands of the archipelago. Offering possibly the most detailed and extensive of all Aman festive programmes – both for adults and a separate programme for younger guests – Amanyara’s seasonal activities and events kick off on 22 December and run through to 2 January. They include nature excursions, fitness programmes, sandcastle competitions, chocolate making, cooking competitions, conch knocking demonstrations, volleyball matches, Stand Up Paddle relays and so much more – something to suit every age and every interest, every day of the holiday.
In the days leading up to Christmas, guests can enjoy guided eco-hikes, morning yoga or beach core training sessions, before learning more about the local coral reefs on a Reef Ball Snorkel. The resort’s Nature Discovery Center offers courses and programmes for all ages, as well as guided tidal pool exploration and critter safari outings for the kids. Other activities for children over the festive period include writing letters to Father Christmas, decorating gingerbread houses, and junior basketball.
From Christmas to New Year guests are spoilt for choice with the vast range of activities and events available. On the 25th, Father Christmas will make his entrance on to the island at 11am and Chef Erik Gremmer will prepare a festive feast at The Restaurant in the evening. On the 26th the Maskanoo Street Fair will be the main attraction, and the 28th will see a bonfire and live entertainment on the beach beneath the stars, and the 29th will entertain with the hugely popular Staff vs Guests Olympics mid-afternoon. The Junkanoo traditional street parade kicks off at sunset on the 30th, and the 31st, New Year’s Eve, and will move all around the hotel and will see gala dinners at both The Restaurant and the Beach Club, with Amanyara’s legendary after party getting going at 10pm. Headline acts this year include UB40 feat Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue and DJ Maggy Smiss, while other entertainers include vocalist and guitarist, Tom Wardle, and guitar phenomenon, Johan Nebb.
To start the new year with renewed sporting ambitions, Amanyara will host a family-friendly Beach Olympics on 1 January, including tug of war, kayaking, sack races and more.
With 2018 heralding the start of a new chapter for Aman, the brand looks forward to celebrating this festive season with friends old and new. Immersed in the cultural, natural and spiritual heritage of their destinations, these five resorts, along with every other Aman are simultaneously looking ahead at what the next decade will bring, constantly striving to offer guests fresh perspectives and original experiences.