The Weekend Australian - Travel - - DESTINATION LUXURY -

go­ing. I be­came an Aman­junkie. Has he a favourite? “I like very much Aman­jena, Aman­yara, Aman­giri ...” He tails off at Aman-i-Khas, a tented camp on the edge of In­dia’s Ran­tham­bore Na­tional Park.

In 1993, how­ever, hav­ing re­turned to Rus­sia, he founded Cap­i­tal Group, Moscow’s lead­ing real es­tate de­vel­oper, which has com­pleted more than 70 ma­jor con­struc­tion projects. Mov­ing into the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try was, he says, a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion. “I had learned the busi­ness by build­ing and de­vel­op­ing ho­tels in Moscow and al­ways thought I would like to buy a ho­tel chain.”

Not that he plans rad­i­cally to trans­form Aman. Rather his in­ten­tion is “to make it a bet­ter, more 21st-cen­tury com­pany and to use new, tal­ented ar­chi­tects”. He won’t name names, but clearly cares about de­sign.

He is, how­ever, pre­pared to talk up John Heah — “He’s very tal­ented. I’m sure he’s go­ing to be a big suc­cess” — the Hong Kong-born, Lon­don-based ar­chi­tect of Aman­era, which opens on the cliff above the mile-long beach near Playa Grande on the north­ern coast of the Do­mini­can Repub­lic this north­ern win­ter. With a back­drop of the Cordillera Septen­tri­onal moun­tains, its 25 sea-fac­ing ca­sitas are set amid 810ha, 20 per cent of it rain­for­est, an­other 150ha of which is a golf course orig­i­nally de­signed by Robert Trent Jones as the “Peb­ble Beach of the Caribbean”. Ten of its 18 holes are di­rectly “on the wa­ter,” Doronin en­thuses. Is he a keen golfer? I ask, not­ing that there’ll also be a golf course at Amanemu in Shima. “I play, yes. But the prob­lem with golf is that you need to have a lot of time, and I’m quite busy.” Founded in 1988 by Adrian Zecha, Aman names its prop­er­ties for the San­skrit word “aman”, mean­ing “peace, se­cu­rity, shel­ter”. Among its favoured ar­chi­tects is Aus­tralia’s Kerry Hill, who has de­signed the new Aman Tokyo. More:

Golf may not hith­erto have been a pas­time read­ily as­so­ci­ated with Aman, but as Doronin points out, the orig­i­nal Aman reg­u­lars are the far side of 50 now. Does he worry that its de­mo­graphic is age­ing? On the con­trary, for their chil­dren are now Aman­junkies too, and their grand­chil­dren will soon be if the kids’ clubs that sev­eral re­sorts are in­tro­duc­ing, meet expectations. “They’re very discreet,” says Jo­livet. And low-tech. “No video games or any­thing.” At Aman­yara in Turks & Caicos, for in­stance, “We’ve done some things with Na­tional Ge­o­graphic.”

Hav­ing pre­vi­ously worked for the fam­ily-friendly allinclu­sive Club Med, one might sup­pose Jo­livet’s ap­point­ment as CEO last year was a sign that Doronin wanted to broaden Aman’s ap­peal to a wider though still big-spend­ing con­stituency (Aman rates tend to start at four fig­ures). In fact, though, Jo­livet was hired by Zecha and has been with Aman since 2008, one of the few se­nior man­age­ment staff to have sur­vived the regime change and clearly the cus­to­dian of Aman’s brand val­ues.

So what is it, does he be­lieve, that de­fines an Aman? “First, space,” he says. “Space in­forms ev­ery­thing. Sec­ond is in­ti­macy. Even though you have space, you still want to be pam­pered, to feel com­fort­able. Num­ber three is out­stand­ing ser­vice. But lest this sounds as though Jo­livet has mem­o­rised a check­list, he is quick to stress that ac­tu­ally at an Aman noth­ing comes as stan­dard. “There are no stan­dard­ised rooms, no stan­dard­ised di­men­sions or de­signs. Ev­ery­thing is dif­fer­ent. Ev­ery­thing is unique … When you go to Aman you feel like you’re at home.”


Aman Canal Grande, Venice, left; Aman­gani, Wy­om­ing, above

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