What We Love
- Hushed leafy surroundings steeped in ancient Japanese traditions
- The 100-foot infinity pool overlooking Ago Bay
- Drinking Japanese whiskey on sunken open-air terraces surrounding a fire pit
- A spa built around natural hot springs converted into shallow pools edged by oversize daybeds
What To Know
- Because of the focus on relaxation and regeneration, options for active pursuits are limited
- The property is quite spread out; bikes or a staff-driven buggy are on offer
- Guests have access an 18-hole championship-level golf club nearby
Aman’s trademark restrained luxury is especially subtle at this countryside property, 190 miles southwest of Tokyo, made up of a series of low-slung, pitched-roofed pavilions inspired by Japanese farmhouses known as minka. The hotel’s contemporary interpretation of vernacular architecture was informed by Amanemu’s setting in Ise-Shima National Park, a foliage-rich area bordering Ago Bay where ancient traditions like pearl diving are still alive. At the resort’s heart is a 22,000-square-foot spa built around a natural onsen that was designed as a series of tiered shallow pools. Signature treatments like the 90-minute Seasonal Journey, which starts with a centuries-old foot-cleansing ritual using wasabi scrub, are a must.
Blond wood and off-white textiles predominate at Amanemu’s 24 luxurious but spare suites and four two-bedroom villas, all with alfresco decks overlooking Ago Bay or the resort’s gardens. An exception is the bathrooms, whose dark palette is made up of black basalt stone tiles covering walls, floors and private onsen bathtubs that draw mineral-rich water from nearby hot springs.
At the in-house restaurant, a small army of chefs create the daily-changing menu, which focuses on the area’s natural bounty, including rare fruits and vegetables, freshly caught fish like abalone and spiny lobster, and Matsusaka, an ultra-tender and finely marbled wagyu beef. Western options like pasta are also available.
Amanemu is set within Ise-Shima National Park in the southern Mie Prefecture, a region known for its seafood, pearl farms and one of Japan’s most sacred shrines, Ise-Jingu. High-speed trains from Nagoya, Osaka, or Kyoto, which take between two and three hours, arrive several times a day at Kashikojima station, where guests are ushered to a private car for the 20-minute drive to the hotel.
How to Get There
The Amanemu was all I had hoped for - well up to Aman standard, quiet, integrated with nature, perfectly clean, and peaceful. I came for the nature, proximity to Ago Bay and the Ise Grand Shrine, Aman aesthetics, and the private onsen. The resort is assimilated with the surrounding national park, very peaceful and with areas that allow you to easily wander and see nature. The Ago Bay itself was relaxing and you can walk to the Sunset Beach (among other places) to enjoy it.
The onsen was spectacular, both at the spa and in my room. It was exactly as advertised - the hot spring water flows directly into your own deep room tub, through its own faucet. The spa has a larger onsen (bathing suits are required) that was like a series of wading and sitting pools, set outdoors.
The overall room and resort were very very clean. This may be the most clean hotel I have been to, on par with Aman Tokyo. The robes and two types of slippers in the room were local in style and comfortable. The staff was attentive and quick, without being intrusive. Also, the staff was quite detail oriented, to the point of saran-wrapping leftovers I put in the mini-fridge, but knowing not to fold clothes I left out to air.
The tour guide the hotel provided for the Ise Jingu tour was informative and fluent in English. She and the driver provided a nice day of shrine touring, shopping in Oharai-machi, and seeing the Ago Bay as well. All in all, it was a relaxing getaway and another great Aman experience.
Below what you would expect from an Aman.
Quality of guests is an issue:
they get noisy very often, sending and receiving loud voice messages on Wechat all over the place.
This turned out to be a problematic place to take a good rest and wind down from life's burdens.
Would not return.
We have stayed many Aman resorts and never complained (except the one in China). Aman stands for perfection. It is hard to find fault and it has always been beyond our expectation. Unfortunately, not this time.
Never, ever in an Aman resort, you come back from your breakfast, your room was NOT made. Never, ever in an Aman resort, you stand in front of the reception but being totally ignored by the staff as you are invisible.