Courtesy of Aman © Simon Lewis Studio
A New Aman in the Dominican Republic
By Hideaway Report Editor
August 15, 2016
Amanera, the 29th Aman resort, is set atop a cliff in a remote part of the Dominican Republic, in keeping with the company’s long-established preference for pristine, out-of-the-way locations. The chosen site is a superb tract of land that encompasses 2,170 acres of untouched rain forest bordering Playa Grande, one of the most spectacular beaches in the Caribbean. Aman also acquired a legendary Robert Trent Jones golf course immediately adjacent to the property.
The resort’s main building, the Casa Grande, is a large two-story structure, much of it glass, with open walkways, atriums, terraces and cantilevered water features that combine to give it a subtle complexity. It reminded me of the work of both Edward Durell Stone, who designed the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and Philip Johnson, who created the iconic Glass House in Connecticut. The architect was London-based John Heah (who is currently at work on another Aman resort on the Greek island of Kea).
Rising from the beach up the hill into the rain forest, the 25 individual Casitas (13 with pools) form an array that resembles a large amphitheater. From the outside, it is hard to appreciate just how large they are. On entering, we were taken aback by the exceptionally generous interior, augmented by a spacious terrace. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls provided unobstructed ocean views. The living room featured midcentury modern-style furniture, augmented by a built-in desk and wooden bookshelves. A bright area rug added just the right dash of color. Sliding wooden panels separated the living room from the equally large bedroom, with an adjacent dressing room. The bath came with a walk-in shower and soaking tub, as well as a large glassed-off garden.
Having settled in, we succumbed to the lure of the beach. There, chaises longues and umbrellas dotted the mile-long arc of golden sand. An attendant was on hand to help with towels, drinks and sports equipment, and an open beach bar proved a fine spot for lunch.
As evening approached, we strolled back to the Casa Grande, where the upper-level lounge and bar provide a perfect place for an end-of-the-day drink with a stunning view of the sea and the rain forest. Downstairs, The Restaurant is a stylish place with soaring ceilings, subtle lighting and a delightful staff (who embodied the flawless service we experienced throughout our stay). Here, however, we encountered the resort’s only deficiency — the food — which for a property of this caliber (and expense) proved uninspiring. For example, a salad included rubbery burrata and tomatoes that were tough and flavor-free, while a bowl of fish soup was lacking in both seafood and flavor. And at lunch on the beach, I ordered the fish burger and was presented with a piece of slightly overcooked fish on a bun, with no accompaniments. Other new Aman resorts have suffered from lackluster cuisine at the outset, and the problem has been remedied over time. I strongly suspect that the same will be true at Amanera.
Aside from the beach and the infinity pool, the principal activity at Amanera is provided by the Playa Grande Golf Course. One of the great courses of the Caribbean, it was originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., whose son, Rees Jones, has recently undertaken a complete renovation. The storied 7,085-yard, 18-hole course has no fewer than 10 holes beside the sea, the most of any course in the Western Hemisphere. Non-golfers can enjoy guided nature hikes through the rain forest, mountain biking, tennis on the two Har-Tru courts and deep-sea fishing. There is also a well-equipped gym and a lavish spa with a wide range of treatments. Those feeling more cerebral may wish to pass a few hours in the splendid library, tucked away off the main lounge in its own glass cube, where the selection of books is one of the best curated I’ve seen at a resort.
Amanera is a spectacular property, not just for its dramatic situation between the rain forest and the sea, but for the way an exceptional design has been integrated into this singular location.
The seamless integration of the natural environment and the resort buildings.
Some of the Casitas are a walk of up to 10 minutes from the Casa Grande; however, golf carts are on call.
Good to Know
Pick-up at the airport includes a welcome service that whisks you through all the government formalities.
Rates: Casita, $1,850; Pool Casita, $2,620.
Address: Auto. 5 Carretera Rio San Juan, Cabrera, Dominican Republic.
Telephone: (809) 589-2888.