This project and the many challenges it presented were unimaginable, but we overcame them not only to defy the test of time, but to push the boundaries of traditional hospitality
– Vladislav Doronin
Luxury hotel operator Aman is set to open its fourth location in China on Monday (8 January) – the culmination of an ambitious 15-year conservation initiative which saw the relocation of an entire forest and the reconstruction of a historic village.
Kerry Hill Architects have restored 50 disassembled antique houses in order to create Amanyangyun, integrating contemporary comfort into the 400-year-old fabric of the buildings.
The story began in the city of Fuzhou in the province of Jiangxi, 700km (435 miles) from Shanghai, where construction of a new reservoir threatened the existence of thousands of camphor trees and dozens of homes dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Over the course of a decade, Fuzhou-born entrepreneur Ma Dadong and Aman worked together to transport and replant 10,000 trees – including a 17m tall, 80-tonne Emperor Tree, one of the tallest in China – and stone-by-stone disassemble and rebuild the houses 27km (17 miles) southwest of Shanghai.
Many of the antique pavilions still bear ornate stone carvings and inscriptions that depict family hopes and histories. Thirteen of the dwellings measure between 800 and 1,000sq m (8,611 to 10,764sq ft) and include a private pool and whirlpool, while 12 of the properties have been converted into Aman Residences to own.
Amanyangyun also includes 24 newly created Ming Courtyard Suites, designed to complement their historic counterparts, featuring refined wooden interiors and Aman’s signature Asian-influenced minimalist design aesthetic.
Set around a central courtyard, the 2,840sq m (30,570sq ft) Aman Spa is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the Aman collection. Its ethos and atmosphere draw inspiration from the resort’s name, ‘Yang Yun’, which is taken from an inscription made on a pavilion in Beijing’s Forbidden City three centuries ago, and means ‘nourishing cloud’.
The spa complex houses eight treatment rooms, two double spa suites, extensive relaxation areas, a sauna, plunge pool, whirlpool and two swimming pools. Two private Spa Houses each offer a suite of thermal facilities, including a Russian banya and Turkish hammam.
The treatment programmes and 15 specially developed spa journeys combine the healing practices of traditional Chinese medicine with the advancements of 21st century technology.
The main spa building is also home to the fitness and movement centre, with professional cardio and strength equipment, and houses a Pilates and yoga studio, where three walls of floor-to-ceiling glass provide serene views over Amanyangyun’s lake and forest gardens.
Amanyangyun also features a cultural complex, Nan Shu Fang, created from the final and most architecturally impressive of the antique buildings. Enhanced with furniture crafted from the nanmu wood characteristic of Ming interiors, the pavilion is designed to be a modern-day recreation of the scholars’ studios of China’s 17th century literati – a space to learn, contemplate and practice traditional crafts such as calligraphy, music and painting. Kunqu Opera performances will also be hosted there.
Six dedicated rooms have also been created to host traditional tea and incense ceremonies, and a Cultural Discovery Centre is Aman’s take on the kids club, offering nature programmes in the resort’s wetlands, organic herb and vegetable gardening, Chinese lantern making, paper cutting, pottery moulding and tea ceremonies. Children’s yoga and spa treatments are also available.
“Every Aman has a story to tell, and this one is no exception,” said Vladislav Doronin, chair and CEO of Aman. “This project and the many challenges it presented were unimaginable, but we overcame them not only to defy the test of time but to push the boundaries of traditional hospitality.”