[Bangkok Post] After opening its doors once again after a long hiatus due to the pandemic, the Grande Dame of Phuket – the legendary Amanpuri – has ensured that its loyal clientele is not only able to enjoy the renowned exclusive and intimate experience, warm hospitality and private and natural surroundings that the Phuket resort is known for, but it is also provided with a host of carefully curated new experiences.
As the first of the luxurious Aman group of properties worldwide, Amanpuri did not sit idle while the country was devoid of tourists. The reopening saw such treats as visiting Michelin-starred chefs to the new Sunset Terrace, individual wellness immersions treatments that balance every aspect of health and wellness, including multi-day programmes and customised routines with daily spa and wellness treatments, a diet or cleansing programme and suggested exercise routines, all tailored to meet personal requirements.
Personally ensuring that every resort was able to manoeuvre through the lockdown and be poised for the return of global travel was Vladislav Doronin, chairman and CEO of the Aman brand. An accomplished international investor and real estate developer of luxury properties, Doronin is also the founder of Capital Group, a real estate development firm, chairman and CEO of OKO Group, a US-based real estate company.
According to Doronin, the entire Aman group has not fare too badly as a result of the lockdown. The year 2019 saw record performances across the board, and when cross border travel restrictions limited international visitors, the group quickly shifted its focus to the domestic markets with great success. Amanpuri, the group’s flagship property, is one of the resorts that has been welcoming domestic visitors, with international visitor arrivals picking up as a result of the Phuket Sandbox.
“Overall, 2021 has been a positive year for Aman, particularly at our hotels which have been open to
international visitors. There is such a pent-up desire to travel and escape to new locations that we are already seeing the start of a travel boom. In countries where borders are open internationally, such as Europe and the Caribbean, we’ve seen incredible recovery. Our properties in the Americas and Europe, such as Amangiri (USA), Amanyara (Turks & Caicos), Amanzoe (Greece) and Aman Venice (Italy) have seen incredibly strong performance, and some have outperformed 2019.”
According to Doronin, data indicates that post-pandemic travellers seek longer stays, plus an increased focused on wellbeing and transformational experiences, all of which Aman resorts are set up to do. And for those who are still cautious about health and safety, the exclusivity of the Aman experience can ensure that guests are naturally socially distanced within their private villas, suites and pavilions, with their own private butler, spa treatments and dining experiences to avoid contact with other guests if they so wish.
Doronin is upbeat about the 2021 high season. “The high season for Amanpuri is looking very positive with international and domestic travellers alike. The UK is a key market for us during the high season and Thailand was recently removed from the red list, which has resulted in a sharp increase in enquiries and bookings from the UK, as well as other international visitors including Europe more widely and the USA.
“Additionally, we have just launched an Amanpuri Private Jet Festive Package for up to 12 people which includes transport via Private Jet, accommodation at Amanpuri, as well as festive dinners while staying with us. This will be the ultimate festive trip, ideally for families or groups who wish to travel in exclusive comfort. This once-in-a-lifetime festive experience is already generating high interest and I foresee this will drive high booking numbers over the coming high season.”
For the reopening, Amanpuri offers a range of special services for guests. Those staying for a minimum of three nights will enjoy full board with a personal Thai chef and butler, a 60-minute holistic massage, daily group movement classes and full access to the resort’s exceptional facilities such as the Eco-Beach Discovery Centre and digital hub known as the Hot Spot, for children and teenagers.
Alternatively, the Amanpuri Family Escape includes a family cooking class, as well as non-motorised water sports and daily movement sessions. For younger ones, crafts, skateboarding and the climbing wall at the Eco-Beach Discovery Centre and Hot Spot keep active minds entertained, while breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner are also included.
Exciting new culinary experiences include an exclusive dinner on Amanpuri’s newest dining location -a floating platform adrift in the Andaman Sea, a Thai Cooking Masterclass with Chef Kannika, a Pasta Making Masterclass ideal for families, a private beach barbecue by candlelight and an Andaman Sunset Cruise with a picnic on board the resort’s Mastercraft boat.
Doronin believes that, with the right precautions and measures in place, global travel can be reopened, which will benefit economies around the world which rely heavily on tourism.
On the success of the Phuket Sandbox, Doronin remarked, “I think the Phuket Sandbox has been a positive first step for Thailand’s reopening and encouragement of international travel once more. That said, there were still strict rules in place initially surrounding quarantining in Phuket.
“I believe we need to find balance in the restrictions that we put in place when it comes to international
tourism. Regulations and precautions are needed to guarantee people’s safety, but I don’t believe we should have such strict rules surrounding vaccination as the only means to enter or leave a country.
For example, I believe we can develop comprehensive testing regimes which will enable international travel, without risking the health of those travelling or the residents of the country. I feel this is adequate as an alternative option to proof of vaccination, which will also ensure the fiscal health of the country. My suggestions for the recovery of tourism in Thailand would be focused on both increased vaccination rates and also developing travel bubble arrangements or guidelines for travel which enable tourism to start to recover throughout Thailand. We should not be limited to only one option, if there is scope to explore multiple ways in which to safely reopen borders this should be considered, especially in a country such as Thailand which is dependent on tourism to support the overall economy.
Thailand will see new Aman properties being launched in the near future, with the introduction of Aman Nai Lert Bangkok which is currently in development and scheduled to open in 2023. This new property joins a list of new Aman destinations under construction, including Aman TokyoResidences, Japan, in 2023, followed by Aman Miami, USA, and Amanvari, Mexico the following year.
“Offering both an Aman hotel and Aman Branded Residences within the exceptional setting of Nai Lert Park which is brimming with culture and heritage, this new location will offer all the components of the revered Aman experience, bringing the horizontal to the vertical, within the dynamic city of Bangkok.”
In 2020, Aman group also launched Janu as the sister brand to Aman, but with a different pace and energy designed to encourage social connection. In the pipeline are Janu Montenegro, Janu Tokyo and Janu AlUla, Saudia Arabia in 2023. Janu is expected to add value to the Aman’s world-renowned brand, as well as reach new markets.