I have to confess to being an Amanjunkie. Amanresorts are not for everyone – their spare zen-like aesthetic and hushed quiet do not suit those looking for a more bombastic ambience and they are often in out-of-the-way places.
But for me, the service is always fabulous, the food just as much so, and I love the architectural details –the play of light and dark, the situation of the buildings, and their integration in to the landscape.
Amanjiwo is no exception and is perhaps one of the most dramatically sited properties I’ve been to. Set in the heartland of Java, surrounded by active volcanoes and close to the Unesco World Heritage site of Borobudur, Amajiwo echoes the famous temple in its perfect sandstone curves and columns. It is, frankly, stunning.
The rooms are stand-alone villas in the typical Aman style – monochrome palette of timber, stone and marble, some with gorgeous azure plunge pools looking out over the verdant valley below and across to the dome of Borobodur itself in the distance.
Staff are discreet but warm, and ever-professional. Every afternoon, a wrinkled woman from the local village arrived to make Java tea – water was boiled over a brazier, and fresh herbs including basil, lemongrass, nutmeg and cloves were pounded together and infused, then sweetened with honey. A dance teacher from the village taught a small class of tiny girls the steps of the local dances (they were most distracted by my handsome 7 year old boy, and plenty of giggles and coquettish glances were thrown his way, to his great embarrassment and my great amusement).
The main draw for Amanjiwo is of course a dawn visit to the famous temple, the 4am wakeup call more than compensated for as its domes and carvings gradually emerge from the mists as the sun rises. The stories and history of the temple were beautifully explained by our guide and made it a meaningful experience.
However once the temple is done, Amanjiwo can arrange other fabulous experiences – I went shopping for antique batik at the home of a local antiques dealer, whose house was an Aladdin’s cave of textiles, statues, old posters and artworks. We took a horse and buggy out into the villages and saw tofu being made, and stopped to watch some fiercely contested pigeon racing, all fascinating.
And then of course there is Aman time. To reflect, relax and rejoice, and that is what Amanresorts excel at.