In the film Wall Street, Bud Fox said that all of life comes down to a few moments. Checking into an Aman hotel is one of them, and loves Amanyangyun. Located outside Shanghai in a man-made camphor forest, it’s the latest addition to the growing international collection of exclusive hotels and resorts.
For the uninitiated, Aman Resorts’ dominion stretches from the canyons of southern Utah (Amangiri) to the Grand Canal in Venice (where my wife, Kate, and I spent our honeymoon) to the Bhutanese side of the Himalayas (Amankora). With more hotels under construction, including one in the Crown Building on Fifth Avenue in New York City, owner Vladislav Doronin’s expansionary vision shows no signs of flagging.
Amanyangyun, which opened earlier this year, is the collection’s fourth property in China, but it has a visual and historical identity of its own, making it stand out from the others. Designed by Australian firm Kerry Hill Architects, the hotel features 24 suites and 10 pavilions, 13 villas that were created from 26 ancient homes dating to the Ming and Qing dynasties.
The homes were, over a 15-year period, meticulously disassembled, transported more than 400 miles from the Jiangxi province, and rebuilt. With them came 10,000 trees, which had been deracinated, similarly schlepped, and replanted. That’s right: Aman built its own forest—one that’s only a short car ride away from the stifling pollution and chaos of downtown Shanghai.
Initially, it might seem like Amanyangyun was tailor-made for retired historians and arborists, but once you’re inside, it’s a kingdom of serenity and pure, unapologetic luxury—Aman’s signature. The 30,500-square-foot spa is equipped with eight treatment rooms, a Russian banya, and a hammam. The walls of the fitness center are glass, so guests can take in views of the forest while holding a warrior’s pose. There are also three world-class restaurants, a cocktail bar, and a cigar lounge stocked with Cuba’s finest exports.
In other words, if Bud Fox had quit while he was ahead in his dealings with Gordon Gekko, he’d almost certainly be spending his early retirement here among the trees.