Last spring, I enjoyed a sublime holiday in Greece. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Hotel Grande Bretagne, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Athens
- Review: PHENOMENAL Amanzoe, Peloponnese (today)
- Review: Kivotos Mykonos Hotel, Mykonos Island
- Review: Canaves Oia Luxury Suites, Santorini
- Review: Grace Santorini
Today: Review of PHENOMENAL Amanzoe, Greece’s best resort!
- Location: Google maps
- Hotel website: Amanzoe Resort
- Tip: get free VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso
Laying amongst centuries old olive groves, Amanzoe is a hilltop property, boasting panoramic views of the Peloponnese countryside, the glittering tranquil sea, the neighbouring vineyards, and the awe-inspiring mountains. The resort is located within easy reach of a wealth of archaeological sites and the cosmopolitan island of Spetses. Designed by quintessential Aman architect, the legendary Ed Tuttle, this exclusive haven of unsurpassed beauty has quickly become the Mediterranean playground of those in the know. Classically inspired yet sleekly contemporary, Amanzoe’s pavilions and villas open to expansive private terraces, creating a seamless extension of the airy interiors and an unrivalled sense of space and seclusion. A stone’s throw away, the Amanzoe beach club comes with two lap pools and two children’s pools and provides fun and games in total privacy by the water.
Amanzoe features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury hotels & resorts in Greece, the most astonishing beach retreats in Europe, the best things to see & do in Greece, and my favorite Aman hotels in the world.
In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- Amanzoe enjoys a secluded location on the eastern coast of Greece’s Peloponnese peninsula, a region rich in history, with several famous archaeological sites within reach of the property, including the Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site home to temples and an amphitheater. The Peloponnese is also the place where the Gods walked the earth according to ancient Greek mythology. IMHO, the Gods can bring a return visit, because if there’s one resort fit to make them feel at home on our planet, it must be Amanzoe. The ultraluxe resort is just over two hours by car or a 20 minute heli-flight from Athens, and although it’s designed as a world in itself, it’s just a 10 minute drive to the lively tavernas of Porto Heli.
- Deriving its name from the Sanskrit word for peace, ‘aman’, and the Greek word for life, ‘zoe’, Amanzoe commands a fabulous position atop a promontory overlooking the cosmopolitan island of Spetses, the bottle-blue Aegean beyond, and the surrounding landscape of lavender bushels, vineyards, olive groves and Cyprus trees. Thanks to Amanzoe’s thoughtful layout, you’ll be looking at the water from nearly every vantage point. The panoramic views are especially jaw-dropping from the main restaurant and bar, and are at their most spectacular around sunset, when one of the world’s most stunning coastal vistas unfolds in front of you. Although Amanzoe is a hilltop resort, it also features a super-chic beach club on the coast (more on that below).
- Inspired by classical Greek architecture, renowned American architect Ed Tuttle designed the hotel like a modern-day, Aman-ified Acropolis. The phenomenal white compound blends harmoniously with its surrounding natural environment, yet it is so striking it would impress the Greek Gods Zeus, Hera, and Poseidon. The grandiose structure comprises several pavilions that feature soaring ceilings, giant pillars, majestic colonnades, and marble-clad hallways. Shallow reflecting ponds and sleek outdoor fire pits complement garlanded pergolas and marble statues. Though the exterior is inspired by ancient Greek tradition, the interior is sleek, serene and minimalist. Amanzoe is Aman pure sang!
- Rising like some Delphic dreamscape above the Mediterranean, Amanzoe is so large that the enormous hotel complex may feel overwhelming at first, although the thoughtful layout is quiet convenient once you know your way. The impressive marble entrance and reception areas overlook an expansive reflection water pond leading to a spectacular panoramic terrace with the Aegean sea beyond, flanked by the bar on one side and the main restaurant on the other. The water pond is lined by colonnades of white pillars and temple-like pavilions, housing a boutique shop (selling Greek handicrafts, jewelry, fashion and local produce) and a cathedral-esque, two-story marble library containing more than a thousand books.
- Drawing on classic Greek architecture, with strong lines and a pared-back aesthetic, the 38 guest rooms aren’t just rooms, but freestanding pavilions, scattered throughout the property. The pavilions come in 4 categories, the main differences being the view (sea or Peloponnese countryside) and length of the private pool (6 vs 12 m, or 20 vs 40 ft). During my visit, I stayed in a ‘pool pavilion’ (lowest room category), whose design embodied modern Greek luxury. The pavilion was accessed via a stone-walled courtyard, and featured a high-ceilinged living area and king-size bed positioned in a marble alcove, leading to a pergola-shaded terrace with private plunge pool. The palatial bathroom had two Japanese Toto lavatories in separate areas, a closet adjacent to each, and in the middle a large walk-in rain shower and sunken bathtub.
- Similar to most Aman hotels, soft drinks & snacks in the minibar are complimentary. Amanzoe’s staff will stack it with almost anything you want.
- When you are traveling with a larger group or family, you can book one of the multi-bedroom villas, which come with a chef to cater for your every craving. Particularly noteworthy is the breathtaking villa 20, a colossal (1.6ha) nine-bedroom complex of Ed Tuttle-designed living, dining and relaxation areas built on the hillside at the farthest reaches of the property. Spread over six levels, all connected with elevators and with exceptional views of rolling hills and the Aegean Sea, this villa sleeps up to 20 guests and is by far Europe’s most exclusive holiday villa. Set on almost two hectares (four acres) with six pools (including an indoor pool), the residence has its own spa complex with sauna, steam bath, gym, yoga platform and two treatment rooms.
- Although most guests are happy spending their days in the privacy of their own pool pavilion, you can always retreat to Amanzoe’s main swimming pool and its wraparound terrace (there are four more pools at the beach club; more on that below). The main pool area is located on an elevated outcrop at the heart of the resort, above a majestic staircase with a beautiful modern sculpture. Overlooked by a casual restaurant, the pool is 25 m (82 ft) long and lined with green marble. Shaded by a pergola, a children’s pool is also available. The main pool area is always quiet – even when the hotel is full – as most guests either stay at their villa or flock to the beach club.
- Amanzoe’s private beach club sits on a sheltered bay, about 3.9 miles (6.3km) from the resort’s main hilltop facilities. Complimentary transfers by car take guests down to the Aegean at any time they want, although you can also use one of the resort’s mountain bikes to cycle down the picturesque route. The palatial beach club is home to four swimming pools (two lap pools of 25 m or 82 ft each and two children’s pools), two ultraluxe overnight cabanas, a casual eatery, a gym and two-room spa. The pools are surrounded by an expansive deck where guests can relax on loungers in the sun or beneath pergolas. A range of water sports equipment is provided as the sheltered bay makes for calm waters, ideal for all levels of swimming, snorkeling and diving.
- Amanzoe features 3 restaurants, two on the hilltop and one at the beach club, all serving mouthwatering food of the highest quality (as you would expect from the Aman brand):
- Fronted by an expansive outdoor terrace with magnificent vistas designed for alfresco dining, the main restaurant is an elegant venue with floor-to-ceiling window-doors on three sides. These maximize sea views and can be opened or closed depending on the weather. It offers Greek and international choices at breakfast, and modern Greek and Mediterranean cuisine at dinner, made from locally sourced produce.
- Nama, the restaurant along the main pool, offers a casual spot for all-day dining, while at night it transforms into a sophisticated Japanese fine dining venue.
- The beach club also includes an informal restaurant, offering a traditional, yet sophisticated Greek Taverna menu and wood-fired pizzas, as well as Greek BBQs during the summer months.
- The holistic healings of Hippocrates are the inspiration for Amanzoe’s light-filled and very stylish spa, which would make Asklepios – the Greek god of medicine – proud. Located besides the main lobby, the spa offers five double treatment rooms with steam room, a Thai massage room, hair salon and finishing salon. The extensive spa menu combines ancient Greek beauty rituals with Asian techniques, using natural products found locally in Greece combined with Aman skincare products. Watsu is Amanzoe’s signature offering, with two heated indoor pool areas built just for this. The spa also offers a number of excellent wellness retreats led by experts in their field. A gym is also available, and studios host yoga and Pilates sessions.
- Amanzoe provides unbeatable, first-class service, and this is ultimately what makes any Aman stand out. Service at the resort is about providing what guests want, when they want it. From the moment you arrive, the staff makes you feel welcome, respected and valued. Every single person I came across knew me by name and where I was from. Kudos to the GM who made sure everything was perfect during my stay.
- Amanzoe offers a variety of activities and excursions to suit all interests. For example, Amanzoe is a 50 minute drive from the ancient city of Epidaurus, a Unesco World Heritage Site with a theatre still used for performances every summer, and 1.5 hours’ drive from the Unesco-protected archaeological site of Mycenae, the prehistoric kingdom of the mythical Agamemnon. You can also take a trip to the pretty island of Spetses, known for its seafaring traditions and Venetian and neoclassical architecture, or charter one of Amanzoe’s high-speed watercrafts for a full- or half-day tour of the uninhabited isles and secluded coves off the coast. The Peloponnese landscape is also a delight to explore on foot; highlights include the paleolithic Franchthi cave, reached by a coastal hike (about 15 minutes long), a 20 minutes’ drive from Amanzoe.
- Amanzoe is a self-contained world of lavish luxury, representing everything that its mother brand Aman tries to achieve: tranquility, exclusivity, and a sense of place. Aman is one of the world’s most exclusive hotel brands and the company manages a fabulous collection of intimate properties across the globe. The brand is known for the understated elegance of its resorts, exquisite attention to detail, minimalist design, heartfelt service, and otherworldly locations.
- Among Aman’s habitués is a group of passionate repeat customers who call themselves ‘Aman junkies’ (count me in) and whose travel plans are determined by Aman locations. It’s a misconception that Aman junkies are always incredibly wealthy people: I prefer to spend my money on two nights at an Aman resort than two weeks at any other resort, as you pay for a unique and life-long memory. In all honesty and without exaggeration, an Aman resort makes some Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton resorts look like a mediocre Holiday Inn hotel.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
Amanzoe is probably the most visually stunning of all Aman resorts. The hilltop setting, views, villas, design, food, and service are incredible. I would not hesitate in recommending Amanzoe to anyone, but you need to know the following before considering a stay here.
- The resort has three restaurants: a fine dining venue at the sunset terrace and two less formal dining venues near the main pool an on the beach (one of them becoming a Japanese restaurant in the evening). The menus did not change during my 3 day stay. While the cuisine is absolutely to die for, the food options lack a little variation when you consider a longer stay, especially since the hotel is in a remote location, so most guests rely on Amanzoe’s restaurants exclusively for the duration of their holiday. Perhaps that the addition of a daily special menu and destination cuisine would enhance the gastronomic offerings.
- It is definitely worth knowing that the beach club – which only operates from May to October – is 3 miles (4,8 km) from the resort’s main hilltop facilities. So you cannot go on a quick beach stroll as it does require some organization to get there. Amanzoe, of course, offers free shuttle services in luxury cars down there as and when you want. IMHO, while the beach club is absolutely wonderful, the pebble beach itself is charming but not very special. There are more spectacular beaches to be found in Greece, so I am a little puzzled why the Aman group chose this particular beach location. Also, the beach is not privately owned, so from time to time outsiders pass through, although it does feel secluded as it’s hard for non-guests to access this beach.
- You need to prepare for a long journey to the resort (unless you’re taking the helicopter). The drive from Athens airport is about 2.5 hours – albeit on excellent roads – and the last part is winding up and down the mountains. But once you drive through the resort’s gates, you’ll appreciate the remote location as it’s the perfect place to withdraw from the stress of daily life.
- If you like night life and action-filled holidays, you may find yourself disappointed at Amanzoe, since the Aman brand appeals to a totally different type of traveler.
- The rooms are simply stunning, with no expense spared and privacy at the forefront of the design. However, not all pavilions come with the view that Amanzoe is famous for. The lower category pavilions enjoy views of the surrounding vegetation, and you can barely see the sea from them. If a view from your villa is what you’re after, make sure to book at least a ‘premium view pavilion’, since this villa type features a magnificent panorama of the Aegean Sea.
- Be prepared to become an Aman junkie as Amanzoe will raise the bar for your future trips.
- Location: 9/10
- Design: 10/10
- Pool: 10/10
- Rooms: 10/10
- Food: 10/10
- Breakfast: 10/10
- Spa: 10/10
- Service: 10/10
- Value for money: 10/10
- Overall experience: exceptional: 9,8/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at an Aman hotel (and/or receive many free perks).
- Save money: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and one complimentary à la carte lunch for two).
- Room tip: with 38 pavilions available, I don’t imagine you can pick a bad one, especially as the rooms are more or less identical in layout. The main differences are the pool size (pool pavilions feature a 6 m or 20 ft private pool, while the deluxe pavilions have a 12 m or 40 ft pool) and the vistas (only the premium view pavilions offer unobstructed panoramas of the sea).
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The Peloponnese Peninsula, where Amanzoe is located, is blessed with a Mediterranean climate. In spring (May & June) and autumn (September and October) the climate is pleasant, the temperatures warm, and sunshine is plentiful. July and August are very hot with temperatures reaching 40°C (100°F). Winters see an increased chance of rain, but the resort closes during this season.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Athens, it is a 2,5 hour drive to the area around Amanzoe. The road until Corinthia is a fast and newly built tollway. The drive from Corinthia to Porto Heli is winding but beautiful, passing through coastal villages and the interior of the region. Although Aman can provide limousine transfer to/from Athens (450 euros one way), it’s cheaper to rent a car yourself or prebook a taxi (I used Welcome Taxi for 250 euros one way and was quiet happy with their service).
Alternatively, Amanzoe can also be reached by a 2-hour ride via hydrofoil from the Athenian port of Piraeus or a 25-minute helicopter flight from Athens Airport.