- Detailed Review
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Ah, Greece. Your azure skies, your mesmerising waters, your blinding whites, your cool blues. It’s no wonder that Aman chose to put their mark on the country at Amanzoe, and the combination of Ed Tuttle’s vision and Greece’s natural beauty make for a stunning collaboration.
Set on the coast of the Peloponnese peninsula, on a raised plot of land commanding far-reaching views of the Ionian Sea, Amanzoe makes an unapologetic, ambitious statement. It’s a contemporary acropolis, or at the very least a temple of magnificent proportions, and to stay here is to live like a god.
The common areas of the hotel are comprised of a series of lofty, white villas with poised doric columns inviting visitors into cool chambers, albeit air-conditioned these days. Broad paths connect these structures and hover over clear blue pools of water which, undoubtedly, lower the temperature in the heat of the summer. Here, at the highest point of the hotel, you find the library, restaurant, lobby, bar and boutique with plenty of outdoor seating and a vast, round platform which dominates the landscaping and overlooks the ocean, a suitably dramatic setting for dinner.
As you can imagine, the gardens and greenery at Amanzoe is equally grand and has been immaculately planned and executed. Elegant pine trees and fragrant lavender and rosemary bushes line the paths that wind down from the restaurant area and catch the breeze. Each ‘pavilion’ is a private villa, and they all command stunning views either inland or out towards the sea.
It’s easy to imagine that I’ve gone back in time and I’m in charge of this exquisite residence. It’s easy to forget that I am just a lowly visitor who can only dream of being master of such a place. But what’s the harm in dreaming when the setting is so convincing?
The Greeks knew a thing or two about drama and Amanzoe knows how to make an impression. Walking up the steps to the entrance to the hotel, it’s the view of the ocean which takes my breath away. My eyes are drawn on either side by the tall, elegant, white columns through the arid Peloponnese, past sporadic cypress and olive trees towards the sea. It’s a perfect day with the sky an impossible shade of blue. Talk about an arrival.
The General Manager is right here to meet me as is the Events Manager. In fact, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed! However, after the briefest of introductions, I’m escorted to my pavilion. My luggage has already arrived and check-in is in fact carried out in the room – so smooth I’ve barely noticed it. A room and resort orientation is offered but I decline instead deciding to take an in-villa dip.
Rooms and suites
Some Amans suffer from ill-lit, dark rooms. Not so Amanzoe. Light pours into every immaculate nook and cranny, and white walls and light tones create a bright and cheery atmosphere. All the pavilions are built on more or less the same layout, with the difference being the view and the size of the private pool.
I enter my accommodation via a gate from the path into my private garden and again into the building itself. There is a hallway where I find the hidden minibar (soft drinks complimentary) and stylish tea/coffee making facilities. Around the corner is the living area, with floor-to-ceiling windows, and further around through a vast marble square arch is the bedroom with its bafflingly wrinkle-free crisp white linen. The bathroom is on the other side of the room, but everything is open-plan, so it doesn’t feel far away.
All the rooms face out towards the sea, and the large terrace is perfect for both sunbathing as well as dining. The long, thin pool is almost big enough for laps and is big – and cool – enough for a refreshing dip before lunch.
Some dangerously tasty-looking snacks have been left out along with some fruit and a bottle of something Greek, sweet and strong which doesn’t last long.
The Wi-Fi is quick and easy, the air conditioning quiet as a mouse, and there are plenty of electricity sockets in all the right places. There is a TV with films on demand, and it takes me a while to work the coffee machine but other than that I wouldn’t call the rooms high-tech. But then, we are in ancient Greece, so that’s fair enough.
The marble bathroom is an extension of the living room and, while technically open plan, as it’s towards the back of the room and separated by a wall, there is a degree of privacy. Sunshine spills into the bathroom, and shafts of light reflect off the shiny slabs. There is a huge rain shower, and the sunken bathtub is begging to be filled to the brim with goat’s milk. Excellent lighting is provided either by the powers that be or assisted at night time by backlighting on the mirrors, perfect for make-up application.
The WC is closed off, and I’m pleasantly surprised to see a Japanese style bidet-loo. I wonder what those who have not yet visited Japan will make of its various functions.
Plenty of fluffy towels drape over rails, and own-brand toiletries are provided in generous, 100ml bottles, but I’m a bit disappointed that they are plastic.
Most meals are taken either up at the main restaurant, on the surrounding terraces, or down at the beach club. I choose to take à la carte breakfast at the top, and I cannot speak highly enough of the freshly baked buttery, flaky croissants and eggs with feta and tomato. With supercharged Greek coffee on tap, this breaks the fast with panache.
Lunch can be taken down at the beach club where they serve a combination of Greek, Japanese and burger/pizza fare. It’s all prepared on site, so unlike some poolside meals I’ve taken, it’s prompt and fresh.
Dinner with the GM is on the circular terrace overlooking the sunset over the Ionian sea. It’s such a romantic setting and worth booking a table here in advance in high season. In the last few years, wines from regions I had previously ignored (for good reason) have improved dramatically, and Greece is no exception. To accompany my buttery soft, slow-cooked local lamb, we had a fantastic local red, although, for those with more traditional tastes, there is an extensive wine list.
Other restaurant options
If you are at Amanzoe for more than a couple of days, head over to Spetses or Hydra for the day, and ask the staff to reserve a table at one of their favourite lunch spots. There are also a few on-site special dining experiences, including evening dinner on the beach and the quite breathtaking dinner in an amphitheatre if you need a little drama in your life.
Spa and wellness
Not to do things by halves, Aman has gone the whole hog on the spa. The vast complex is reminiscent of the cooling baths in films of ancient times. Nine extremely spacious treatment suites clad in refreshing marble lend the spa a luxurious and glamorous atmosphere.
There is a trend in new Amans in keeping with the general interest in wellness, to place a greater emphasis on the spa experience. As such, there are programs guests can follow and often visiting practitioners to complement them.
Ostensibly, the theme incorporates Hippocratic therapeutic methods with Ayurvedic and Chinese traditions. In reality, treatments are mainly Asian that use more local produce in creating the oils and potions. Either way, the menu offers a superb selection of massages, scrubs, facials and hydrotherapeutic treatments.
Both yoga and pilates (either group or private) are available, and there is a large, bright and very well equipped gym.
Pool and beach
Amanzoe’s beach is a short drive from the main hotel, and there are also beach cabana pavilions here too. The pro to the location is that it feels like a day trip: you can come down here, head out on a boat for a few hours to discover coves, do some fishing, even venture to nearby islands. When there is a critical mass of guests, it feels like an atmospheric European beach club.
However, if guests stay in their rooms, it can feel somewhat empty. This is partly due to the sheer size: four pools, sun-loungers lining every side (an elegant distance apart, of course) and a covered terrace with 20-odd tables and chairs for lunch. While I am here in May, there can’t be more than a dozen people spread out. I’m being a little picky here; of course, it’s a pretty setting, and the pebbled beach leads down to crystal clear, calm and refreshing (read cold) water.
Non-motorised water-sports are available, and smaller boats can moor up in the bay. A nice touch down here is the availability of massages in two treatment rooms and an additional gym, especially for those spending time in the beach cabanas.
Amans are not renowned for their child-focused programs, but they have gone out of their way to accommodate families here. There is a kids’ pool at the beach club, the focus for most family activities. While technically there isn’t a kids’ club, there is a children’s host who is on hand to arrange fun and games for your little ones with an emphasis on traditional Greek entertainments. There is a games room, a tennis court and even children’s yoga is on offer. It’s worth asking if any particular events are going on during the dates of your stay so that you can plan your time accordingly.
Staff and service
It’s always a pleasure when the staff of a hotel reflect their local culture, and, true to stereotype, the Amanzoe crew are devastatingly charming, warm, kind, genuinely caring and massive feeders. There are only a few moments during my stay when someone is not attempting to feed or water me. Utterly delightful, but efficient at the same time.
During my stay, I notice a true mix of nationalities at Amanzoe, always a relief. Some guests are here to relax next to their pool, others to participate in a wellness program. There are a couple of larger families having a great time and a couple of visitors at breakfast who look like they are about to take on some major hiking. It’s a casual but well-attired crowd, friendly but generally keeping themselves to themselves. In the evenings, everyone is dressing up a little so don’t forget your ethereal, toga-style maxi dress to fit right in.
I have a very early start from Amanzoe, but the check-out is quick and easy with a packed breakfast already placed in my car. It is barely dawn when I leave, but staff still come to see me off, leaving me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.
How to get here
2 hours and 30 minutes by road or 25 minutes by helicopter from Athens Airport
50 pavilions & villas
First-hand knowledge from LuxuryBARED members who've been here.
What I liked
Everything! Of note;
– people were brilliant; warm, friendly and helpful
– food was delicious
– the location is breathtaking
– the rooms are spoiling
– service is top class
– the beach is idyllic
What I disliked