Amanyangyun is the latest Aman resort to open and the fourth in China, boasting a noteworthy location just outside of the sprawling cosmopolitan city of Shanghai. With the grand opening on the horizon, we sat down with the General Manager Benoit Amado to find out more about the resort and what it will offer WildChina travelers.
Benoit, can you tell me a little bit about your background before joining the Amanyangyun team?
Well I’ve been working and living in Asia for thirteen years altogether and in China for the last ten of those years. I have always worked in the travel industry but in different companies, countries and types of accommodations, all the way from city center hotels to large resorts. My latest position involved running the hotel division at Shanghai Disney resort, while previous to that I was based in Hainan, China with Alila.
And what would you say your work entails at the Amanyangyun?
Due to the nature of the resort, the job is extremely varied, splitting my time between the residential full-time properties, accommodation for visiting guests, and the cultural center. As General Manager, I oversee all elements of the resort from operations and marketing, to food and beverage; it is my responsibility to make sure our team (and the hotel) is set up for success.
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Can you tell me how the Amanyangyun compares to other resorts in China?
All of our properties are inspired by their surroundings, and the Amanyangyun is no different, drawing upon elements of Jiangxi culture and heritage. The resort is really unique in the sense that it is in Shanghai, yet far enough out of the city to still experience that resort feeling. Designed by Kerry Hill, we bring a clash of two worlds- China’s heritage and contemporary art. We have three main restaurants on site, Japanese, Italian and Chinese and we are partnering with a Michelin-star chef in our Italian restaurant. Once again focusing on our local surroundings and heritage, the cuisine for the Chinese restaurant will celebrate the flavors of Jiangxi. Another unique element which completes this destination is the wellness component, which is much larger than most of our other resorts in China. The wellness center includes two swimming pools, two spa houses, and a number of Pilates areas where guests can take private or group classes, all of which are set in beautifully landscaped garden.
How does the Amanyangyun compare to the other Aman properties in China?
All the Aman resorts differ from one another because all of our resorts are focused on delivering that element of culture and heritage indigenous to the area. The Aman brand is made up of its completely unique resorts. The Amanyangyun is to be bigger than the other resorts due to incorporating the forty restored villas (which are also for sale for private ownership). One element across all of our properties in China are the cultural centers where guests can learn more about the local surroundings from experts in the field.
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What do you think the Aman brand brings to China?
When Aman first came to China, high-end luxury resorts were few and far between in this country. Nowadays, we continue to bring the cutting-edge know-how with an expertise that allows us to design and deliver one-of-a-kind resorts. Bringing a level of personal touch and service, we have responded to the growing demand for unique, quality, high-end experiences from tourists within China as well as from abroad. Because our properties are small, we strive to be close to our guests from the very beginning to the very end; putting them at the very center of what we do throughout their stay.
What would you say are the other important elements of Aman philosophy?
The pillars of Aman philosophy are based on culture, creating pioneering experiences and bringing the best of what is available locally. The most important however, and at the very core of our philosophy, is having compassionate hosts. It’s been almost thirty years since the first Aman was opened, and the brand has always been about welcoming guests as old friends with a personal touch. For example, we try to not use signage around the resorts, something you wouldn’t find in someone’s home.
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Why is preservation important to you and the Amanyangyun?
Here at the Amanyangyun we believe in the need to preserve nature, heritage and community. There is evidence of this throughout the resort, from the untouched trees to the organic and locally sourced ingredients ready to be sampled in our restaurants. We have preserved heritage through (luxuriously) restoring forty villas from the Ming and Qing dynasties. In terms of community, we use locally crafted goods in our hotels, such as the individual tea sets found in every guest room, made locally in Jingdezhen, which give employment opportunities to the local people. Strongly believing in preservation for the future, the Amanyangyun also features a discovery center for children, where they too can learn about the local Chinese culture, nature and ecosystem.
What kind of client will love the Amanyangyun?
Our guests are people that enjoy the pleasures of life, from beautiful design and aesthetics, to intimacy and privacy. They like to come to Aman because they can be assured all of those things will be delivered. The guest experience is being able to sample the best of the local area, all while staying in a high-end luxury resort. It’s not just one thing, it’s everything.
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Why do you think that the Amanyangyun would be a good match for our WildChina clients?
Due to its semi-urban location on the outskirts of Shanghai, the Amanyangyun would be a perfect choice for the beginning or end of a WildChina Tour. Guests are sure to enjoy unique experiences during a stay with us, whether it be marveling at the villas, the two thousand-year-old king camphor tree, or our ancient well, upon which is inscribed a saying that reminds people of an ancient Chinese story from this area “Where the sun meets the moon”. For me, off the beaten track can be interpreted as an encounter with something new or an experience particular to a certain location; that which is definitely the case here at the Amanyangyun. It’s truly amazing.
Thank you, Benoit! It’s great hearing the insider scoop from one of our preferred hotel partners. With such excitement and passion for this project emanating from Benoit, we are excited to add the Amanyangyun to our collection of luxury and unique hotels, complimenting any and all WildChina trips. Indeed, after jam-packed days exploring and sampling everything ‘the Paris of the East’ has to offer, retreat to this forested oasis, and be welcomed inside as an old friend.