I look over at Mr S on his sun lounger by the pool, a beer in one hand and his kindle in the other – and a huge smile on his face as the sun beats down on him. I’ve won serious wife points for choosing the exact right resort for Mr S to spend his 40th birthday – there’s no denying Amanzoe in Porto Heli, Greece, ticks all the boxes for my husband.
But let’s go back to the beginning as this was a holiday that was months in the making. I had in my mind an epic adventure for his 40th birthday – safari in the Serengeti, a helicopter to a private island, bucket list worthy scenery and exciting new experiences. But when I asked him what he wanted, he said not to have to wake up early and not to have move around. Ok, time for a rethink and a focus on what Mr S actually loves which is hot sun, cold beer, relaxation, beaches, pool, boats and minimum inconvenience. With his birthday being in September but still requiring hot sun, Greece seemed the ideal destination and Amanzoe was a resort that had been on my radar for a while. With a smooth pick up from Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens, I sat in the car with eager anticipation the whole two and a half hour drive to Porto Heli (are we there yet?) and as soon as we arrived, I just knew I’d chosen the right place.
From the off set, there’s absolutely no doubt that you will blown away by Amanzoe. On arrival we were greeted by the General Manager and several other members of staff, immediately making us feel welcome with cold towels and herbal infusions. But forget about the welcome, it’s that view that strikes you straight away.
The hotel’s main pavilion is truly breathtaking, the first thing you see is a beautiful body of water, flanked by the hotel’s utterly stunning architecture. Designed by renowned architect, Ed Tuttle, the structure of the hotels with it’s majestic columns and shady courtyards is inspired by classical Greek architecture. It’s like a modern Acropolis for luxury travellers.
The hotel’s main pavilion with the circular platform at the end was seriously so beautiful that I’ll just let a picture do the talking…
Amanzoe is part of the Aman group, renowned as the world’s most luxurious hotel brand. One of the key characteristics of Aman hotels is (to quote the website) how they are ‘designed to frame their natural settings’ and despite being a modern resort building, there is still a strong sense of place. To me this is part of the ‘subtle’ luxury that I feel that the group espouses, it’s not about fancy bling it’s more that staff know exactly what you want, before you even realise you want it… your favourite wine ready for you, your coffee just how you like it, never having to sign a bill cos the staff already know who you are.
That’s why there’s a name for people that revisit Aman hotels again and again, and while I’m not quite an ‘Amanjunkie’, I’m certainly one in training. Amanzoe is my third Aman hotel, having visited their Courchevel property Aman Le Mélézin eariler in the year and Amanpul0 in The Philippines two years ago. Most of the hotels in the group are prefixed with the brand name ‘Aman’ meaning ‘Peaceful’ in sanskrit and a relevant suffix, in this case ‘Zoe’ meaning ‘life’. Could it get any better? A peaceful life is exactly what Mr S wanted!
The columned walkways lead up to a circular platform with a fire pit at the end which not only has a panoramic view of the Peloponnese countryside but it is also the prime spot for watching the sunset.
Whilst we didn’t quite make it to see the sunset every night (this was not a holiday where we rushed places!) we did get to see it a few times and it was truly spectacular.
We didn’t experience one drop of bad weather while staying at Amanzoe, apparently bad weather is very rare here (this is paradise after all). But if it rains, guests can head inside to the bar and enjoy cocktails inspired by Greek gods made with local herbs.
Behind the bar is the hotel’s garden. A very photogenic spot with these gorgeous towering trees.
Another beautiful room, found just off the main pavilion is the library…
Once again, the pictures really do the talking here! The symmetrical golden staircases, the marble walls and ceiling and over a thousand books… I thought such a room only existed in dreams! Guests can find books in all different languages and there’s plenty of literature on Greek history too. The final room to explore around the main Pavilion is the boutique, selling gorgeous locally made artefacts, clothing, jewellery and the new Aman Skincare range. I love a good hotel shop and of course this one was super stylish.
One of three in the hotel, and named simply The Restaurant, the dining area by the main Pavilion is the place for breakfast and one option for dinner. Breakfast is a choice of delicious Greek options (think bread and feta, pastries, pancakes) as well as classic egg dishes, cold cuts and cheese. I have to say though we preferred having it inside as due to the sweet lavender there were lots of wasps around (yes even in Paradise you are here).
By night, the Restaurant is a gorgeous candlelit spot serving International and Greek cuisine. We enjoyed fresh fish, grilled meats, calamari, tuna tartare and carpaccio of beef but there were also pasta and risotto dishes on the menu here.
Just off the main pavilion is the hotel’s spa…if you’ve stayed at an Aman hotel before, you’ll know their spas are a unmissable experience. Here there are five double treatment rooms with steam room, a Thai massage room, a watsu pool and a hair salon. Treatments combine ancient Greek rituals with Asian techniques to promote wellness, energy and empowerment. Our couples massage was absolutely heavenly and the spa itself is beautiful – there’s also a full gym, yoga studio and tennis court for those feeling active.
Past the spa, through a shady columned walk way and up the stairs is the hotel’s main pool…
Now if you’re anything like Mr S and absolutely hate it when you pretty much have to fight for a space around the pool (think getting up at 7.30am to put your towel on a sun lounger) then you’ll be happy here. We never saw more than one other person around the pool as most people stick to their rooms or the beach.
Despite the apparent lack of popularity! The pool is of course gorgeous with stunning views to the mountains beyond. There’s also a cute children’s pool around the back with views of the hotel itself.
There’s a beautifully designed restaurant here too, by day it’s known as The Pool Restaurant and serves Mediterranean food for lunch.
We ate here twice and it was pretty quiet in the restaurant too. To be honest, I could see why it was the slightly less popular option as I found the menu a little limited, though still very tasty.
We loved the sashimi and pitta bread and dips for starters.
And followed up with chicken skewers and salmon for main course with a side of Greek salad. We accompanied pretty much every meal with a bottle of our favourite rosé, Whispering Angel.
By night, The Pool Restaurant becomes Nama, the hotel’s stylish Japanese restaurant. Nama is actually a feature at several of the Aman properties (the name is Aman spelt backwards as well as the Japanese word for ‘raw’) so we had already tried the concept at Aman Le Mélézin.
On the menu were lots of our favourites such as spicy tuna rolls, incredibly quality sashimi, black cod and nigiri. Now Mr S and I have been to Japan and are also used the sensational Japanese restaurants in London and I don’t think Nama quite lives up to those. Don’t get me wrong, it’s excellent, just not perfect – for example the rice on the sushi rolls is a little too thick.
Moving on to the next part of the hotel tour – the Beach Club! The Beach Club is located about a ten minute drive from the main part of the hotel – it’s not really a problem but worth being aware of. There is pretty much always someone available to drive you down (we never had to wait) and the drive itself is smooth and scenic.
At the beach you can take a seat on the sand or by the pool and just enjoy the service from the bar. There’s another mini boutique here so if you get a little bored you can take a browse! Everywhere at Amanzoe is calm and serene but the Beach Club is a little buzzier and it seems to be the most popular spot at the resort. Though this still doesn’t mean you’re fighting for a sunlounger! There’s only 38 rooms at the hotel here so there’s space for every guest.
If you do want a little more privacy, you can opt to stay in one of the beach cabanas.
The Beach Club restaurant was our favourite of all the options, open only for lunch it is in the style of a traditional Greek taverna.
We ate there three times cos we loved it so much.
Crisp sardines and mussels were our favourite dishes… though the mussels were a little inconsistent, another day we had to send them back because they were too salty.
The pizza was excellent with several different topping to choose from. The lamb, I found too salty but Mr S loved it.
The prawn pasta was another favourite of ours…
As were the langoustines…
Octopus and whole grilled fish…
And seafood pasta. I think you can tell how much we liked this place!
And to the final destination of the hotel tour, our beautiful room which was one of the hotel’s pool pavilions peppered across the landscape. Each is a gorgeous individual villa and price varies on the location and the view of pavilion, then there are the aforementioned beach cabanas and the larger more self-contained villas; there’s a one bedroom villa as well as four, five and six bedroom villas. Finally Villa 20, the nine bedroom villa which has six levels, two infinity pools and a full complement of staff – it’s one of the world’s most luxurious villas. Seriously our own pavilion was huge, I can’t even imagine staying in Villa 20.
There’s an initial door opening up to a walkway, before you enter the pavilion itself.
An entrance way with snacks, a coffee machine and a mini bar, that you can request to be filled with anything really.
Before the room opens out to this plush seating area and bedroom. The design of the room is absolutely gorgeous marble, local stone and wood – the result is pure, simple and minimalistic but utterly elegant.
Pretty much all the doors around the room can be opened up with that you can live the indoor / outdoor life with the fragrant scent of the garden breezing into the room.
The bathroom was one of my favourite bits. Basically it’s double-sided so we each had our own dressing area, loo (speaking of which there’s fancy Japanese loos in every bathroom) and sink which were joined in the middle by this most gorgeous sunken marble bath and double shower. There is a his and her hat to borrow, a beach bag and a whole box of amenities such as mosquito spray and other bits and pieces.
As you can see, even the doors by the bath opened right up to the outside.
The outdoor space is as big as the indoor, with a gorgeous terrace where you can both sunbathe and have your breakfast.
Every room has a private pool, ours was six metres long.
I even bought Mr S a massive unicorn so he could while away his time floating around. Regular readers will know I have a bit of a short attention span, and I like to ‘do things’ while I’m on holiday. But this trip was all about Mr S so a standard day meant a leisurely breakfast before popping down to the beach club to chill and later enjoy a wine-fuelled lunch. After lunch we’d head back up to the main resort for a chance to enjoy our beautiful room before heading out for dinner. The hotel gave me a few examples of restaurants nearby to try but apart from one day trip, we pretty much stayed and ate in the hotel the whole time. We loved it so much we just wanted to make the most of it.
The hotel offer various tours such as visits to Archaeological sites, trekking, and culinary discovery such as wine, and honey tours – you can even visit local bee keepers. But I knew Mr S would just want to chill so I didn’t book any of these tour thinking I could always arrange something if we wanted to. The only day trip I did book, was a day trip on the hotel’s own boat, Aquazoe, because Mr S loves boats and it gave us the chance to do some island hopping in the local area. I’ll tell you a bit more about it in another post! I did book a few other surprises for Mr S but I made sure they were at night so that they didn’t interrupt his time enjoying the sun.
One night I told him we were going for a special dinner and we headed up for the sunset drinks beforehand… after our drinks he was surprised to find out that we were headed back to the room which had been decked out with candles, rose petals and we had our own private chef who prepared a barbecue for us.
For the menu, I was given the option of meat or fish, or both. Well that was a no brainer as Mr S loves both! Our menu consisted of pita breads, olives and artichoke cream, greek salad, potatoes with grilled veggies, Plevrotous mushrooms with garlic
and Tarama salad to start. It was followed with fresh squid, sea bass, local octopus, corn-fed chicken, Beef Picanha steak and lamb leg. Needless to say, we were very full and there wasn’t much space for the fruit platter dessert.
Another special dinner I organised for Mr S was in the hotel’s own amphitheatre! Yes, you read that correctly! We’ve had lots of special private meals together but an amphitheatre was something really different.
Here it is by day. The whole team at Amanzoe kept the special surprise dinner secret so Mr S had absolutely no idea what was happening when he arrived in the evening and it was all lit up with candles.
They’d even written our initials in candles…
For this meal, we were treated to a gastronomic tasting menu which was just an utter taste sensation! They even put our trip hashtag on the cake!
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know my final surprise (which wasn’t greeted with quite the same enthusiasm!) was a private photo shoot. I’ll be writing a full post on that as I’ve got lots of pictures to share!
Every hotel will have one dish that’s too salty, a few wasps at breakfast or slightly slow service on one day … no hotel is perfect…but I think Amanzoe may well be as close to perfection as there is. I seriously couldn’t have chosen a better hotel for Mr Silver’s birthday and fortunately he agreed!
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