1. A village reborn
In the heart of the 10ha Amanyangyun resort are the restored buildings and 10,000 camphor trees that were transported – stone by stone, tree by tree – under the purview of Chinese entrepreneur Ma Dadong, after city plans to demolish a forest and villages in Fuzhou, Jianxi province, were approved for the construction of a reservoir. Long before the idea to create the hotel came about, Ma was committed to saving these ancient trees and buildings by moving them to a new site in Shanghai’s Minhang district, 700 kilometers away.
The care taken to preserve each building in their uniqueness throughout the move and restoration project, which took a total of 15 years, is apparent. This detailed consideration extends to the trees too – in particular, the awe-inspiring, 17m-tall Emperor Tree that takes pride of place in the courtyard. The story behind this project can be viewed in the resort’s private IMAX theatre.
2. Modern comforts
The 13 Antique Villas and 24 contemporary Ming Courtyard Suites nestled in Amanyangyun are a testament to the late architect Kerry Hill’s take on the Aman spirit of balancing a respectful reinterpretation of ancient design with modern luxurious amenities. The standard Ming Courtyard Suites start at an expansive 99m2 and include a living area and fireplace, private outdoor courtyard and a bathroom with shower and bathtub facilities. The Antique Villas, worth a tour even if you’re not staying in one of them, range from having one to five bedrooms, and feature a private pool, garden and courtyard.
3. Authentic dining experiences
While restaurants Arva and Nama serve up authentic Italian and Japanese cuisine respectively, a visit to the resort’s Chinese dining venue, Lazhu, should not be missed. You can sample delicacies from Amanyangyun’s home province of Jiangxi, as well as Shanghainese cuisine. The Yu Zhang crispy chicken is a highlight, from a recipe dating back to the Qing Dynasty, as are the crispy rice dumplings rolled in sugar.
4. Cultural education
Amanyangyun’s pride in its origins is something all guests can experience in the hotel’s cultural centre known as Nanshufang, named for the royal reading room in Beijing’s Forbidden City. Housed in one of the hotel’s best-preserved antique structures, it’s furnished with nanmu wood pieces characteristic of the Ming Dynasty. Take time to peruse the building’s stone block carvings for an idea of scholarly life in the past and experience a Chinese tea ceremony in one of the nine private rooms, or take a guzheng (Chinese zither) lesson. Near the entrance of the courtyard stands the Emperor Tree, which guests are encouraged to water when they arrive as a sign of respect.
5. Rest well
The Amanyangyun Spa & Wellness Centre is one of Shanghai’s largest spas, spanning 2,840m2 and featuring eight single treatment rooms, two double spa suits as well as indoor and outdoor swimming pools. Other facilities include a Russian banya spa and a fitness centre.