Christmas and the holidays are a time for family and loved ones. This year Aman Resorts celebrates its 30th anniversary, and the 2017 festivities promise to be the finest yet. Here are five unique celebrations taking place at Aman’s iconic properties in Thailand, the Philippines, India, Cambodia and Turks & Caicos. So sit back, relax, and kick off your shoes and the new year in style!
1. Amanpuri—Phuket, Thailand
Why go: Beach club, 5-star cuisine, holistic sanctuary
Tucked away on a private peninsula with a secluded white-sand beach, Amanpuri is a “place of peace” and Aman’s founding resort. Up to Christmas and through the new year, Amanpuri becomes even more magical.
On Christmas Eve, carols are sung around the resort’s spectacular main swimming pool. Christmas Day itself will see decadent traditional and not-so-traditional Christmas lunches and dinners served at all of the resort’s dining venues.
And the highlight of Amanpuri’s festive calendar is a fantastic New Year’s Eve celebration with dinner and fireworks beside the main pool, followed by an after-party at the Beach Club. At the countdown, Amanpuri’s iconic steps will be the ideal spot from which to watch a magnificent firework display heralding the New Year and, with it, Aman’s 30th anniversary.
2. Amanpulo—Pamalican Island, Philippines
Why go: coral reefs; treetop pool; wellness experts
Pasko sa Pilipinas is the nation’s favourite holiday—Christmas—with celebrations lasting well into January. As always, guests of Amanpulo can expect a truly memorable festive season with white sands, warm sunshine and turquoise waters all around. The 2017 festive programme is even more exciting than usual, as Amanpulo gears up to celebrate its 25th anniversary.
Like Amanpuri, festive meals will be celebrated with inspiration taken from the best of the Philippines, Spain, Italy and Japan, and with special anniversary cocktails. The ambience is enhanced by a unique festive programme and the island’s magnificent natural setting.
Gourmet events will include Chef Michele’s ‘Bacaro on the Beach’—a magnificent Italian antipasti spread and seafood BBQ—on December 22 and January 1 and a Mediterranean-inspired dinner at the Picnic Grove on December 28.
Christmas Eve’s ‘Noche Buena’—a Christmas dinner with classic Filipino fiesta dishes such as roast-suckling pig and pancit noodles—will be held in the Picnic Grove with live music late into the night. The next morning, all guests are welcome to join the Amanpulo community for Misa de Aguinaldo (Christmas Mass) beside the picturesque Island Grotto, followed by a colourful Manamoc Folk Dance performance. Father Christmas may also make an appearance!
During the festive season, Amanpulo guests can experience a chartered helicopter flight to Jewelmer, the region’s gold-lipped oyster farm producing coveted South Sea Pearls, or cross the strait to Manamoc Island to hike up Mount English and explore the local village. Also in residence over the festive period are Rohan Quarry Day, known as the ‘muscle whisperer’ for his bodywork and structural integration therapies, and Clint Pailago, an iridologist, reflexologist and herbal medicine practitioner.
The last evening of 2017 will begin poolside at the Clubhouse with a glamorous cocktail and canapé reception, or at the Beach Club toasting the setting sun. Guests will enjoy a five-course wine-pairing degustation menu featuring caviar, lobster and Wagyu beef at the Clubhouse; and an a la carte Seafood & Champagne extravaganza at the Beach Club.
3. Amanbagh—Rajasthan, India
Why go: Bengal tiger sanctuary; camel polo; Ayurvedic spa therapies
December and January are the most pleasant and popular months to visit Rajasthan, when summer’s intense heat has waned and the monsoon rains have blown away. Locals celebrate Christmas, getting into the spirit of the festive season with all the community, colour and soulful enthusiasm so typical of India’s “Land of Kings”.
Amanbagh is tucked into Rajasthan’s starkly beautiful Aravalli Hills on a lush garden estate. The resort’s take on festive traditions includes Babu the resident camel who replaces Rudolph as Santa’s noble red-nosed steed.
The Christmas Eve Gala Dinner is a highly anticipated event. Local musicians perform traditional music while Amanbagh’s chefs prepare a multi-course feast of both regional and international favourites. Christmas Day follows with traditional turkey and trimming offerings in every dining venue.
Celebrated as a traditional Rajasthani fair, New Year’s Eve at Amanbagh offers a glimpse into the future with fortune tellers and palm readers, fire dancers and qawaali singers, and a seven-course banquet fit for a maharajah. Guests will get to experience the thrill of “The Sport of Kings” with a twist. In Amanbagh’s exceptional adaptation of this ancient game, camels replace horses as the polo players’ mounts.
As well as discovering rural village life and exploring Rajasthan’s historic ruins, palaces and forts, guests can experience aspects of Rajasthani culture. Local jewellers will make crimson lac bangles, gifting these to Aman guests. Mehndi artists will decorate hands, faces and feet with delicate temporary henna artwork, while intricate rangoli patterns from coloured rice, flowers and powder will decorate courtyards and welcome guests.
4. Amansara—Siem Reap, Cambodia
Why go: UNESCO ruins; sunrise yoga; Cambodian performing arts
The deep sense of spiritual bliss that pervades the temples of Angkor sets the scene for a more spiritual festive period at Amansara, situated just 10 minutes’ drive from the renowned archaeological park. Housed in the original guesthouse of the late King Norodom Sihanouk on a verdant estate, the resort’s newly renovated Roof Terrace Garden will open in late November, in good time for Christmas Eve cocktails.
Offering unprecedented privately guided access to the temples, Amansara would recommend that even Christmas Day should start with an early adventure to Ta Prohm, Angkor Wat, Bayon or perhaps even a secret temple. Upon returning, Christmas day at the resort will be celebrated with a special al fresco brunch in the gardens, a dip in the pool, time out in the Aman Spa or even a cycle around Siem Reap.
This year’s New Year’s Eve celebrations will be held in the grounds of the atmospheric 10th-century temple of Prasat Kravan. The temple will witness an al fresco Khmer banquet and Cambodian performing arts entertainment. The evening will end with pratip offerings floated down the river, and then fireworks and Champagne back at the resort’s main swimming pool. New Year’s Day lunch will feature crispy lotus seed filled spring rolls with tamarind chutney, sea bass baked in a lotus leaf and a selection of lotus-inspired desserts.
5. Amanyara—Providenciales, Turks & Caicos
Why go: Nature Discovery Centre; active holiday; celebrity entertainment
As the Caribbean recovers from the after-effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Turks & Caicos are eager to welcome visitors back to their shores this festive season. Perched on the secluded west coast of Providenciales, Amanyara is as pristine as ever, with its 800-metre expanse of beach lapped by the turquoise waters of a marine reserve teeming with sea life.
Known for its scuba diving and unparalleled setting, Amanyara’s festive calendar celebrates ‘The Colours of the Turks & Caicos’. This draws inspiration from the national costume: brilliant white redolent of the islands’ beaches, and the eight rainbow bands representative of each of the inhabited islands of the archipelago. Amanyara offers something to suit every age and every interest, every day of the holiday.
Before Christmas, guests can enjoy guided eco-hikes, morning yoga or beach core training sessions, before learning more about the local coral reefs on a Reef Ball Snorkel. The resort’s Nature Discovery Centre offers courses and programmes for all ages, as well as guided tidal pool exploration and critter safari outings for the kids. Kids can also enjoy writing letters to Father Christmas, decorating gingerbread houses and junior basketball.
On the 25th, Father Christmas will make his entrance on to the island, on the 26th the Maskanoo Street Fair will be the main attraction, and the Junkanoo traditional street parade kicks off at sunset on the 30th. On New Year’s Eve, the party will see gala dinners at both The Restaurant and the Beach Club, with a legendary Amanyara after party.
With 2018 heralding the start of a new chapter for Aman, the brand looks forward to celebrating this festive season with friends old and new. Immersed in the cultural, natural and spiritual heritage of their destinations, these five resorts, along with every other Aman, are looking ahead at what exciting offerings the next decade will bring.
Happy beautiful holidays!
Written By: Adriane Rysz