My First Impression Of Aman Resorts

Over the past year and change, Ben has instilled in me a new level of appreciation for value and how to maximize it. Ben knows a good value, and it’s the reason he is able to travel so often and so well.

He has to some degree deterred my love of the Caribbean and a few particular resorts on the Mediterranean, citing high prices, mediocre service, and, most importantly, bad value. However, Ben isn’t cheap, and he is willing to shell out for peak experiences, especially ones that he deems worth it.

When we first met, we of course talked about where I had traveled, and he asked if I had ever been to an Aman. “An Aman?” I asked. I had heard of Aman but didn’t know much more than the name… In my defense, Amans are truly bespoke luxury and off the beaten path.

Ben lauded the amazing value of Amans despite their high rates. Like the WhatsApp CEO who rushed the closing of the app’s sale to Facebook because there wasn’t award availability at a later date, Ben puts good value above all else. That said, he thinks Amans are worthwhile, particularly for a special occasion (for example, he took his mom to the ones in Bali for her birthday a few years ago).

For my 25th birthday, Ben took me to my first Aman, Amansara in Siem Reap, Cambodia, home to famous Angkor Wat. I now am writing this post from Amantaka in Luang Prabang, Laos.

The properties have been elegant and exemplified pared-down luxury. Their standard rooms are generously sized suites and the grounds are pristine. Anyone who has visited Southeast Asia before knows many of the cities can often be hectic and chaotic. Despite this strong energy, both Amansara and Amantaka have been peaceful and calming. In fact, Aman means “peace” in Sanskrit.

amantaka

While the properties I have visited are themselves impressive, the X factor has been the service and attention to detail — nearly everything is thought of and done before you can even ask for it.

The experience of Amansara in Cambodia started from the moment we were picked up at the Park Hyatt — in a gorgeous 1962 Mercedes-Benz! Cold waters, towels, and a tray of snacks awaited us inside, which I quickly understood to be the norm for Amans. The staff were polite and professional but most importantly warm and caring, both at arrival and throughout the stay.

amansara-mercedes

Ben has written about the service blunders at many luxury chains in the states. The service at both Amansara and Amantaka could not be further from that. Rather than repeatedly address us by our last names in attempt to flatter, they instead focus their efforts on the details.

Nearly everyone we have interacted with has been aware of our daily schedule of tours and excursions, and we never once have had to state our room number, explain who we are, or even sign a single bill at lunch, dinner, or the spa. Earlier we made an appointment at the spa and asked if she needed our villa number to confirm the reservation. With a smile she said “of course not, I know.”

I’m not sure if Aman staff have a morning meeting where our photographs and corresponding room number are studied and tested, but it certainly seems like it!

How else have Amans impressed me? Well… When we returned from a day out, a basket was waiting at our door with a note offering to clean our shoes (complimentarily, of course). When we arrive at lunch or dinner, there is no need to state our preference for sparkling or flat water, because they already know and remember from our first meal. At lunch and dinner, Amans feature live music from local musicians — picture a Cambodian woman singing serene vocals a cappella in her native tongue or a Lao flutist humming away.

Processed with VSCO with c3 preset

Every time we step out of the room, we return to a freshly made bed, more bottled water, and little touches like a bathtub filled with water and fresh flower petals. What’s more is that we have yet to have an awkward run-in with the housekeeper upon return. In fact, I haven’t seen someone enter or exit our room. We joke that they are watching with binoculars waiting for us to leave. Even when we just leave the room for 20 minutes we return to find that it has been refreshed.

amansara-bath

We were told when we arrived at Amansara that this was our home and that it should be treated accordingly. If this is home, Mom, I’m coming back! Amans feel like private residences more than resorts. In fact, Amansara was once the guesthouse of the former Cambodian King. Even though both Amansara and Amantaka were half full during our stays, we went hours and entire meals without seeing another guest. We certainly didn’t have to fight for a good table or vie for a time slot at the spa. Both properties are under 25 rooms, so even when full, they still maintain a sense of exclusivity and privacy. 

amansara-dining

On our last morning at Amansara, Veasna, the employee who oversaw our stay, told me she had invited a local Buddhist Monk to bless me in a ceremony for “the special occasion.” “What occasion?” I asked. I thought I knew what she was referring to, but I didn’t want to be presumptuous. “Your birthday tomorrow, of course!” she told me. I was touched she had planned something proactively for my birthday, even though we would be checking out of Amansara the day before.

As we left, they affixed personalized luggage tags to our bags, which were another nice touch, although we won’t need them to remember how special a stay it was. Loyal followers are called “Aman Junkies,” and I can see staying at these resorts is likened to an addiction. 

amansara-luggage-tag

More to come soon… It’s the end of Buddhist Lent in Laos and we are headed out to cruise down the Mekong in Amantaka’s boat to watch the celebratory fireboat procession.

Comments

  1. So the two of you think that by spending time in a luxury resort in a third world country like laos for a few days that your well travelled then your both truly delusional!

  2. @dr bongo

    Why the hate? This blog never pretended to be about the human element of travel. It showcases the gluttonous indulgence of luxury travel. You’re coming to a blog that celebrates delusion and you’re calling its writers delusional. LOL

  3. Ford, your writing is getting a lot better! Not a single snooty comment in this post. Still not the least bit interested in your opinion but that’s a problem with me, not you. Keep it up!

  4. For a starting price of $1,500 a night for a courtyard suite to over $2k a night for a pool suite, the Aman better be perfect and they better have learned your names and preference sheet before you arrived. That is more than what the average Cambodian makes an entire year. Doesn’t appear to be any way to use points there.

  5. So where was the value in spending $2000 a night in one of the poorest countries in the world? For that price I would be expecting a hell of a lot more than the staff remembering my name or room number or my preferred style of water.

  6. dr bongo,

    Jealous much?

    Other classic OMAAT trolls include the ones that complain a miles and points blogger is staying at hotels you can book with points.

  7. Ben,

    This isn’t a value blog…or do you think there is value in flying first class for the sake of it? And what difference does it make if Laos is poor? Not going to Aman will make people rich there? Aman actually provides people with employment. So stop this patronizing nonsense. Or if you genuine feel so bad, cut a check.

    As the Rolling Stone story suggested, Lucky is a millionaire or close to it. And he stays where people with means stay especially for special occasions. why the hate? And don’t get me wrong, I have never stayed in an Aman property and unlikely to do so anytime soon. But hey if I had a million bucks…

  8. What this is article is missing is a link to a post that discusses “How does one get the most value from booking an Aman stay?”

  9. @ R – from the article: “Ben lauded the amazing value of Amans despite their high rates. Like the WhatsApp CEO who rushed the closing of the app’s sale to Facebook because there wasn’t award availability at a later date, Ben puts good value above all else. That said, he thinks Amans are worthwhile, particularly for a special occasion (for example, he took his mom to the ones in Bali for her birthday a few years ago).”

  10. Ford sweetheart, I am just so touched by this report! And how cute that you’re named either after the automobile company or that President Lame Duck. I’m sure there have been many babies with the first name Obama that have just sprung up in inner city neighborhoods in the past eight years. Just imagine if Whitney and Bobby had a child, he’d be named Obama Brown. Oh sweet Jesus. I’ve gone way off track. Well congratulations, sweetie on your big birthday and remember, life is short and youth fades away so keep on diggin’ that gold off them old geezers!

  11. There’s no such thing as Buddhist Lent – please educate yourself and stop viewing everything parochially through your Christian lens.

  12. I am a huge fan of Aman, and have been to both sara and taka. The sara experience is one of a kind and world class and I left there saying it was worth it (although it has become much more expensive in recent years). I also loved LP and taka.

    That all being said I’m bothered by the post – I have been a OMAAT reader for years and have learned a lot from Ben’s tips, but things have really changed. Ben is who he is because of his readers and many would never be able to afford a stay at Amansara, so I find it trashy to put up a post bragging that because of all of his readers he can afford to go here.

    I could never imagine bragging to my clients about staying at a place like Amansara, and that is basically what they are doing here.

    Unfortunately, I have now put Ben and OMAAT on the same level as TPG, which is not a good thing. Too bad what has happened here.

  13. LOL loving all the comments, especially Joe’s.

    How can one not feel bad about spending that much money in such luxury in a country where children are selling trinkets on the streets so they can have their daily’s meal.
    Typical spoiled American brats pretending to be knowledgeable about the world and cultures..

  14. @Greg at least he doesn’t have quite as many guest writers as TPG and he doesn’t ramble on about how he used his favorite overpriced credit card to book an airfare. His reviews are also significantly more interesting and copious.

  15. Hey Ford – I think your description of the resort is bitchin’! And sorry you got some peeps out there that are harshing your gig, but don’t listen to them. They just need to spark the owl.

    @dr bongo – you need to be less of the uptight. By the way, did you invented the bong? It’s you, right? That’s so bitchin’!

  16. This blog post is stupid not because of of the expensive room but because of the shock and surprise that a $1500/night 25 room max luxury hotel that’s at half capacity in a service oriented country can have their staff remember who you are, thinking that the shoe cleaning service is complimentary and being able to go for hours not seeing any of the other 10-20 guests.

  17. Great article Ford and nice capturing of the Aman charm. I have stayed in many of the Amans and the service is outstanding. At the Amanjiwo is Yogyakarta, we played tennis and the Aman, without asking, provided us with a ballboy! And, yes, I think the staff memorizes guests’ photos from the passports, so they always know your name and never ask for your name or you to sign anything.
    At the Amanjiwo, they, without us asking, picked us up at the staircase from the plane, and drove us 100 feet to the airport lounge while they fetched our luggage. When the luggage was in the car, they came to get us from the lounge and took us to the car to be driven to the hotel. That’s service!

  18. Ford,

    Your review is spot on! and your pictures brought back lovely memories of my time there with my husband Frank. Like you, we could not for the life of us figure out how they could refresh our room so quickly! Thank you, and yes, we too cherish our memories … and luggage tags. Even though Frank put it on his golf bag!

    Frank and I look forward to your full trip report, post haste!

    And hush to all those nay-sayers out there!

  19. Wow some keyboard cowboys really need to get a life. Just because you cannot afford something doesn’t mean others won’t value hearing about it. While I typically vacation in villas (mostly for the privacy and the option to have a private chef) I do occasionally stay at a luxery hotels on vacations and appreciate hearing about the experience at the Aman

  20. My partner and I were in Luang Prabang two years ago and passed this one up to stay closer to town. We choose the Maison Suite at the Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel due to its proximity to catch the Monks walking in the early morning. Amasara looks lovely and I’m happy you were properly celebrated for your birthday.
    I hope to stay soon at the Aman resort in Utah soon and enjoy the desert there and resort there.
    I’m looking forward to hearing about your cruise down the Mekong in Amatankas boat.

  21. I have to snort at all these comments about Ford being called or implied as a gold digger. Let’s remember that his favorite childhood vacation spot was a European billionaire’s resort village in Sardinia. Ford is unlikely to be hurting for money and this post seems to suggest his appreciation for Ben showing him that it’s not just where and what you can do with your money that matters, but the value of using that sum of cash wisely and strategically too.

    That said, I echo other comments about how Ford has tremendously improved his writing and tone on this blog. It’s great to read perspectives and experiences about different chains like Aman, even if I probably will never have the money to afford even a night at such a place.

  22. Great review! Thanks!

    Btw how far is it away from town and would you recommend splitting the stay to try another (city) hotel more convenient for sightseeing?

  23. Bitter, party of….many? Wow. So much envy and lack of appreciation for something that isn’t in everyone’s wheelhouse but which nonetheless is remarkable and certainly worthwhile for comment.

    If you don’t find value in this article, move on. The number of self-indulgent jerks commenting about how they perceive Ben or Ford to be self-indulgent for sharing their stay details is laughable to me. No one whines when bloggers use points to stay at a St Regis and get upgraded to a suite costing well beyond $1500/night. So spending that actual amount and sharing it is pretentious? No…you’re just envious and can’t admit it.

    Suck it up, people.

    Ford and Ben, write away. Please ignore the self-important whining. 🙂

  24. Some of the hate here is overblown, for sure. But for me the real problem with this blog is that Lucky attempts to write for “real people,” but is a silver spoon trust fund kid with zero concept of reality. Ford seems to be even worse, the defintion of white, male privilege.

  25. Very few things in life are worth $2000 per night (even if you have the money).

    A hotel outside the main city center area in a new place you want to explore is not one of them.

    You and Ben continue to make me sad with your travel choices. You’re going, love life as a young adventurous traveller, save this resort stuff for yoie golden years.

  26. Ford,

    A spirited review and the most authentic, honest one I’ve seen you write. Perhaps Aman makes that easy

    Lucky has ultimate editorial control, I imagine, but at times I look at both of you and say, “Shit, they are like 25 years old.” An occasional review of the virtues of a particular youth hostel or airbnb in a challenging place would be refreshing without diluting the OMAAT brand. You are young – don’t let Four Seasons’s and Ritz Carltons get you soft prior to turning 30. I suspect readership will enjoy occasional reports from the many, many $40/night hotel rooms and experiences to be had in far flung places.

  27. My only criticism is that Ben (through his own posts) has set a VERY high bar for quality writing. Ben is a GREAT writer! Ford, on the other hand, doesn’t have that same natural talent (though it can be developed).

    If I were to offer advice, it would be for heavier editing. This post looks like a first draft. As a post on someone’s personal blog with only family as readership, it passes muster; however, the writing quality falls well short of the professional standards I’ve come to expect at OMAAT. Ultimately, OMAAT is marketing arm of Ben’s brand, and as such, should feature great writing every time.

  28. @Esther-
    I haven’t stayed at the Aman in Luang Prabang (but I have stayed at other Aman properties – and they are indeed special and memorable), but I have stayed in town. In my opinion, it would be worth it to try to stay in town for a few days too. I stayed in a guest house and each morning awoke to see the monks on their commute to and later from their monasteries. It was a magical proceeding every day, and I’d recommend staying in town on the route just for that. And there are a number of amazing properties in town. Luang prabang is a special place and I highly recommend it to anybody traveling through laos.

  29. Thanks for the insight… I’ve been following along on Instagram so looks like a great trip. I sent my parents to Amantaka for their anniversary a couple years back. I’ve been fortunate to visit a number of Amans so I guess I’m a junkie too…

    Of course I always use points to get there…

  30. Ben – please try and re-focus on airline deals, the usage of miles and credit card points, flight availability etc. Its a good and useful site but lately you have been losing the direction a bit – I know the reason for it plus the reason for the backlash.

    Listen to what your readers are saying and take note of what they don’t want.

    Chin up guys

  31. @worldtraveller

    “Listen to what your readers are saying and take note of what they don’t want.”???????

    Indeed, the brand’s common thread surely needs to be, airline miles, cards, hotel points and status perks related to all of them or the blog will lose its rudder. But Ben has listened – we do not have the monthly CX and LH first class reviews which, while fantastic, became repetitive and now we have some reviews of products on airlines few Americans know to exist. The comments to this post, as well as many others manifest reader interest in additional content.

    I do not know how you presume to speak for the readership.

  32. Can’t believe all the hate here. People whined because of all the repetitive reviews of premium first cabin reports (CX, LH, SQ etc…). So now here on OMAAT they are branching out onto new reviews (i.e J-class business products) and other “boutique” hotels and people still whine. Remember no one is forcing you to read what is published here on OMAAT or any of the other blogs.

  33. Wow. There is something to be said for spending for an experience. Value is totally relative and, of course, depends on the individual. I value the Savoy Hotel in London immensely because it was the first place I stayed on my first trip outside the US when I was 18.
    Fallacy: If I visit a country in the developing world and decide to stay at an expensive resort rather than help the children on the street, I have done something wrong. By that logic, we should all give everything we have after subsistence is accounted for to charity.

    So much jealousy and hate for something that has no impact on your life. Grow up and move on.

  34. Ford:

    This was an excellent review and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your comments. As others have noted, your writing skills are getting better and I look forward to further improvements.

    I for one love reading about these aspirational properties and trips. Yeah very few of us will have the opportunity to experience an Aman resort, but it’s still fun to read. (For comparison, the fact that becoming a professional athlete is incredibly ridiculously difficult doesn’t stop us from watching sports!)

    I don’t get jealous of Ben and Ford for being able to take these trips… I get inspired and think about how I can save up one day and find the opportunity to enjoy an Aman resort myself.

    Keep it up OMAAT squad!

  35. @Lucky, @Ford – The appeal of the blog (outside of those following your relationship) is “accessible” luxury. I for one do not appreciate hearing about he Aman as It is not “accessible” to me (or likely the vast majority of your audience).

    @Lucky – when I first got into the points game, i learned so much from your blog but the blog quality seems to have gone down hill.

  36. @ Ryan — And that’s still the primary focus of my blog. I’ve been reviewing “accessible” business class products and hotels on points all year long. I’ve written more trip reports this year about accessible products than ever before. That’s in response to reader feedback, and hopefully you recognize that and feel that way too.

    This is a one off Aman review. This is nothing new. I reviewed Amans in 2012 in India, and I reviewed Amans in Bali in 2013. Ultimately I thought taking my mom to Bali for her 60th birthday and staying at an Aman was worth it, and I make no apologies for that. Given that I was going to do it, it seems better to write a review than not write a review.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve had dozens of readers email me asking questions about the Amans in Bali, and many of them ended up booking and having amazing stays.

    So I appreciate the feedback and really appreciate you reading. Perhaps this explains it a little bit, but there’s nothing I’ll write that will appeal to everyone. I’m sorry this didn’t appeal to you, and I totally get why. Hopefully in the future posts like this are easy enough to skip.

  37. You are representing Americans, gays, whites. Remember to tip well. Be nice to people. Remember they were bombed to pieces by Americans. No reason to feel to guilty about it but no reason to act like entitled schmucks either. Your golden spoon was probably washed with their blood. A little humility goes a long way.

  38. Must be nice being a miles digger and hooking up with a blogger that has the means to take you around the world.

  39. @credit don’t you think you are a bit extra by making comments that presupposes how they are behaving? keep those useless comments to yourself.

    And as with many readers here I cannot understand the baseless hatred..

  40. Love reading about all kinds of higher end properties, whether or not they are accessible using points. Thanks for sharing your impressions.

    Not understanding all the hate. As he reminded us, Ben has supplied many reviews of points accessible products in 2016.

    And for those in the know… it’s wonderful to see Bobbie Dooley and Margaret Gray contribute to the comments. They’ve been out of sight for far too long. Now if we could just get Colleen Kristen Brewster to come out and report, we’d be golden!

  41. @Ford–First, happy birthday! You are now officially in your mid-twenties 🙂 I wish I could have spent my 25th in Laos, but alas, my schedule is much less flexible than yours. Second, I enjoyed your commentary (as always). Hope you and Ben have a wonderful rest of your trip.

  42. Aman is not a sanskrit word. It has arabic origins and is used in Urdu in Pakistan and Hindi in India.

  43. Some of the Readers are simply nuts.
    Not pleased with a particular post by Ben or whoever.
    CANCEL your PAID SUBSCRIPTION.

    I stay in over 80 hotels a year, fly over 120 flights,
    All are within the range from 4-5 stars, and most of them are in Asia.

    What do i do when a post comes up on something irrelevant to me?
    I skip it.

    Now do i review every flight I take or resort i stay at, no i don’t.
    I don’t have time for that, but Ben does.

    Do i trust Tripadvisor?
    Not much.

    Finding a consistent professional reviewer like Ben is something i’m glad i came across, it saves me so much time and gives me many insights. Some are useless, some are for places i will never stay at, but overall he supplies such an added value to the online preparation phase that i really salute him.

    Does he push for products?
    Heck, they all do, including CNN pushing for their candidate.
    All you have to do, is choose what to read, and what to spit out.

    2. Regarding these particular Aman stays.
    Actually, when so many blogs run the same points manipulations and stay at same Chain hotels, we end up having tons of reviews of a Conrad Maldives, but very little of an Aman or Mandarin Oriental that simply don’t have this type of access to.

    I truly appreciate any rare proper review regarding:
    Shangri-la
    Mandarin Oriental
    Belmont
    Raffles
    Peninsula

    and all of the other mini chains that are not in the points game.
    That type of review is rare.

  44. Hey Ben and Ford. I enjoy reading OMAAT and appreciate your opinions. As for “Dr. Bongo”: 1) this blog costs you nothing, 2) I find it inappropriate to call someone a gold digger – you don’t know these gentlemen, and 3) why begrudge others if they have means? Also, if Ben were straight, would you actually be so hateful to call his girlfriend or wife names? Such words are very unkind. Where is your decency. I hope Ben will delete your obscene comments.

  45. @Ford @Ben, how did you guys book these? Via Ford’s new business? We are looking for the best deal at some Amans. Appreciate your advice.

  46. Ford – keep up the good work! Enjoy your travels and write about the fun you are having – after all, that’s what it’s all about! If it’s not fun then it’s not worth doing. Pay no attention to the haters behind the curtain. They always stay in the dark.

    Ben – I like your blog and I honestly admit you post so many times a day it’s hard for me to keep up. Feel free to relax a little. It’s your blog, do what you want with it. Enjoy it while you can and while you’re young. We’ll still be here when you write your next post.

  47. Kevin,

    While the moaning is somewhat unjustified given its a free blog, and is clearly way over-personalised with the insults, I don’t think people complaining about too many first class reviews are really going to be happy with a hotel review for the super rich!

    I actually found this review interesting (though only in a terribly arrogant “I travel better than those spoilt bloggers” sense!), but it’s clear that the blog has changed from a miles and points blog towards a “follow my excessively extravagant trips” blog which is why so many people are annoyed.

    That being said, I’m all for criticism but if you’re so angry you think it’s acceptable to be abusive you should find somewhere else.

  48. Good review and happy birthday! Looks like an incredible place and gives me something to aspire to, some day. Keep it up!

  49. As a long time reader of your blog, I enjoyed the write-up about the Amans. I have always been curious about this luxury chain. I probably won’t be able to stay in one because of the cost, but, hey, I can dream!

  50. I wish Lucky would hire an editor. This is another post by Ford that is hard to read due to poor grammar and sentence structure.

  51. Who opened the Hatorade? Ford – well written article and a great insight for those of us interested, but yet to stay at an Aman.

    Keep it up and happy bday.

  52. On my vacation to Siem Reap, I stayed at the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, which is across the road from the Amansara. I asked the Amansara manager on duty for a tour, which they graciously gave me. I guess it depends on your preferences, but I don’t think I would enjoy it. It was almost too quiet and serene. There was no one there, and it seemed to me to be kind of lonely and deserted. I much preferred the Grand Hotel, which of course wasn’t as “luxurious” but I thought quite lovely, and the service was outstanding. The architecture of the resort is also mid-century modern to the max, which to me seemed kind of out of place in Siem Reap. But to each his own I guess.

  53. Great post. While I’ll probably never stay at an Aman due to the cost and my general aversion to luxury properties when I travel (spent $20/night for a basic but solid 3* hotel in Siem Reap last year); I really enjoyed reading this post and am glad you enjoyed visiting two of my favorite countries. While I like reading about J class on random airlines, I really enjoy hearing about your personal experiences at the destinations you choose to visit.

    Shocked, but sadly not surprised by all the haters. Is this truly a concern for the Cambodian people and their economic situation?? No, you’re jealous because Ben & Ford get to travel the world while you’ll be lucky to stay at a Radisson in Tampa for your big vacation this year. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to travel, where they want to visit, how much they want to spend, how they choose to interact with the destination. That’s cool if their interests don’t totally mesh with yours but if this bothers you so much there are thousands of other ways to spend your time.

  54. I have never stayed in an Aman Resort, but definitely want to. All of them display an almost austere design aesthetic I love, however it is difficult to work out why they are so expensive. Ford’s review explains that – the attention to detail and personalisation costs to maintain, requiring well trained intelligent staff, and plenty of them.

    For me, that kind of detail makes a hotel stay memorable, and tends to be found in the smaller brands like Four Seasons, Peninsula, and Aman.

    We passes this Aman resort in Luang Prabang a couple of years ago. We were staying at the Hotel de la Paix, which is now a Sofitel. It looked fantastic.

    Keep the high end reviews coming. They help with our travel choices.

  55. I think it’s funny how many of the people criticizing Ford’s writing can’t string together a sentence themselves. There truly is a lot of jealousy in these comments and it’s sad.

    It is kind of silly, though, that Ford sees himself as any kind of traveler, given the way he “travels”: totally insulated from the reality of the places he’s in, interacting with local people only when they are in absolute servitude to him. I know Lucky denied being a trust fund kid earlier in these comments (I doubt that after reading the Rolling Stone article to be honest, he obviously got a head start from his parents), but Ford would clearly be on Rich Kids of Instagram if he were a little younger.

    As others have echoed, part of what attracted me to this blog in the beginning was that Lucky made extraordinary luxury accessible to ordinary people. This post and many of the other ones recently by everyone but Tiffany just seem like bragging. I might appreciate trip reports if they were done artfully or with some kind of maturity or insight, but Ford seems to have fallen into the old trap of “this happened to me, therefore it is important.” I hope he grows up.

  56. First of all, happy birthday and sorry for all the extreme hate on here. I hope you are developing the thick skin that Ben has! Thanks, too, for going back and editing your post to take care of the grammatical issues. I agree your writing is starting to get better. Can I make a couple suggestions without sounding snarky? Have you considered updating your bio and/or profile photo. If you are aiming to be a travel professional and Virtuoso agent you could use a more professional head shot. No doubt that you’re handsome. However, I’ve never met the Virtuoso agent I use but I would have a hard time taking him seriously with a similar photo on his website. Second, your bio could use some polishing. It’s hard to take someone seriously as a professional who highlights being a “devotee of life’s ever-changing journey.” Huh? Finally, you might want to downplay your academic credentials – at least until your writing level improves. Let’s be honest, you need an image makeover – right now your bio just reads “I’m an entitled millennial who lives on mailbox money”. Maybe I haven’t done a very good job of it but this really is aimed at being constructive criticism. It can’t be easy reading hateful comments and I’m sure Ben hates it for you, too. Again, happy birthday, much happiness with Ben and best wishes for the next twenty five.

  57. Thanks for the great review. Happy belated birthday, Ford! I agree with the “value” statement. I am a man of modest means but I saved and saved and did a trip to Africa using points (in Y) to get there. The safari was great but our time at the $1,000/night Giraffe Manor (very pricey for my means) was incredible!!! It had tremendous value and I would do it again in a heartbeat! Now I’m back to the ‘Holiday Inns’ of the world and it’s all good!

  58. The outpouring of hatred is amazing. If people have the means and want to stay at properties like Aman, and feel it’s a good value, then what’s the problem? Although my husband and I have the means, we personally don’t find it a good value to go above four or five hundred a night, and instead we like to spend on experiences outside of the hotel. We also chose to stay at Hampton or HGI or Courtyard when that seems like the better value. I don’t think it’s right to judge people for their travel choices either way. Everyone should do what makes them happy.

    Ford & Ben, just always remember that traveling (no matter how) is a privilege, and be humble and kind to your hosts. Obviously you are going to get grumpy/lousy service along the way, but just keep in mind that they are doing their best at that particular time. You don’t know what is bothering them, so don’t ever blame them personally.

  59. Happy birthday Ford. Great article. Typical bloody dick heads on here complaining. Must be American. That Mark fella is a whinger for sure

  60. Ben & Ford, I stand on my highest heels and say ‘Hurrah’ to you both, with my fist held high!

    And to those of you that think Ben is a trust fund kid, and Ford is a gold digger, I find your comments to be as laughable as my husband Frank suggesting we play a game of leap-frog while celebrating our 30th anniversary at the Four Seasons. But that’s another story.

    I’m not sure what some of your jealous commenters are doing with their other hand, but it only takes a few clicks to link over to Ford’s instagram to see that he, much like my son Jason (a child actor, no less), is blessed by a wonderful and loving family. Preposterous to think that Ford is a gold digger when he is as well educated as he is. Trust me, I work in the media, and cover the entertainment industry. I know a gold digger when I see one! I’m Margaret Grey.

  61. Only stayed at purpose built amanresorts before.. This being one of the city hotels converted from historic buildings, does it feel eerie in any way? Especially when it was a hospital before…

    Ford, do you do hotel deals with aman properties? An agent my mother had in the 90s did but they have folded already…

  62. There is something to be said for being humble at all times. I kind of cringed when I read this. “New money” LOL. It was cute when you gushed over the cold towels in the car though. You will soon learn that is the standard in Asia in any 5 star hotel group.

  63. Ford, happy bday. Don’t mind the negative comments. It’s par for the course when you write public blogs as you are well aware. The comments only reflect on the commentators themselves and how they view the world. Lots of negativity out there. Chin up.

    Glad you are enjoying Aman experience. Once you stayed at one, every other place will seldom live up to that standard. Unfortunately there isn’t anyway you can game a stay at Aman with points or miles. But that’s the way true luxury hotels/resorts operate. St. Regis is a souped up Sheraton. The service level can never be comparable to an Aman or a Mandarin. Hardware yes, but never service.

    I hope you didn’t pack and unpack when you move from Amansara to Amantaka. At your request, your butler will move all your clothes from one Aman and have them magically appear in your room’s closet at your next Aman destination . No need to waste your time on doing something so mundane when you can be splashing at a pool or picking your next excursion from their culture/activity menu. Now that’s service.

    Have a great time collecting those luggage tags. I would highly recommend Aman Sveti Stefan. It’s a Unesco World Heritage site and their Adriatic Suite is simply Amazing with a capital A.

    And lastly, remember to be appreciative of these wonderful experiences as 99.99% of the world population will never get to experience them. It’s truly a privilege and I’m always so grateful to get to experience them. Happy travels.

  64. @Ford

    Firstly, I have to say this is one of your posts that I can finally give you a “pass” grade. (Sorry, Ben and Tiffany set high standards here, so I cannot say this is a “very good” post)

    I believe in constructive criticism, and I think you have taken some on board, and this post is an improvement.

    Since this is first impressions, I await another post – but I hope have some analysis of Aman vs other properties that also in the high-end range within the same city, and how is there “value”, vis-a-vis other alternatives.

    Would be interested in how much you paid, and also the rates of other high-end properties in the same area during the same period.

    I presume this is a Virtuoso property, so I am sure you will share some of the benefits received that boosted the value of the stay, but let’s also analyse other Virtuoso properties & top end chain hotels that are possible alternatives (briefly).

    The property looks good, so I am interested in the value analysis.

    Keep up the improvement!

  65. My first impression is that this reads like an ad or sponsored post. I’m open to benefit of the doubt, though, and that this is a new experience paid for out of pocket and reviewed honestly. Could someone confirm?

  66. So how much was this stay? How does it compare to other options there? Without knowing that, how do I know that this was a great value for the price?

  67. In Oz we call it ” the tall poppy syndrome” It’s a blob about first class and getting it for points not cash but sometimes some places first class is only available for cash. Having a paid first class stay in this blog is still relevant. The price of fame appears to be trolls and hate, please continue your great blog and don’t change a thing. Stay sane, great stories have enjoyed your views and writing for years. I am told after awhile the trolls, they get bored and move on.

  68. Haters are going to hate. They are SERIOUSLY jealous of Ford! You should just delete any negative comments. I enjoyed reading this post.

  69. I revisited the post and just find it astounding that “amazing value” describes the $2,000/night stay. The Park Hyatt in the same city is about $200 for comparison.

    Cold towel, monk blessing, filled bathtub, shoe polish and luggage tags really justify TEN times more than a Park Hyatt night? You could hire a personal assistant to guarantee the “little touches” for a fraction of the cost. How long are you actually spending, awake, in the room when you are there to see the sights?

    I agree that the service sounds great; proactive, courteous, memorable, but I guess that you have not lived much in the real world if you think it’s an “amazing value”.

  70. Hi Ford and Ben!
    It’s sad to see so much hate in the comments. But just keep writing and ignore these haters. They could have easily stop reading. But I want to say thanks for writing this post. I had no idea about the Aman brand of hotels until I started reading/following this blog since Oct 2015. This is a great intro about the hotel and definitely something I would like to strive for one day soon 🙂

  71. Gentlemen,

    Welcome to the wonderful world of Aman.

    So glad you had a great time. The review was great. We have been guests at various Aman properties throughout the globe and have always left feeling relaxed and pampered.
    Would not mind a review of… lets say, the new Ritz in Paris…
    Come on Ben ! Do it!

    Ron R

  72. Of my visits to 6 different Aman properties, Amansara in SR was my absolute fav. Service, staff, villa, tours, food all exceptional. The manager even remembered me from a visit to Bali some years before.

    Less impressed with Amantaka, service just seemed very off during my stay.

    Also important to note that Aman does a lot of support to local groups in their locations.

  73. If you ever go back to Indonesia, try Amanwana, the tented one on Moyo Island and try to charter the Amanikhan. “This unique vessel is available to charter throughout the archipelago, mainly cruising in Komodo National Park, the Bandas – also known as the original Spice Islands – and Raja Ampat, a collection of islands close to West Papua.”

  74. Wow, I don’t understand the negative comments. Great post Ford and right on replies Lucky.

    Folks,
    Staying at an Aman property is a treat that should be on everyone’s bucket list. One has been very fortunate to be able to stay at five different Amans over the past 40+ years of traveling. Each one is simultaneously totally unique but unswervingly consistent. Hopefully Ill be able to stay at one again before extensive travel becomes difficult.
    $0.02 deposited

  75. Well, I’m amazed how emotional people get when Ford is posting …

    But taking it back right on track:

    – Aman is well beyond first class, as we all know. I enjoyed reading about that experience (which I normally can’t afford … but still enjoyed reading it)
    – Ford’s article is well written and makes it clear it was a special occasion (his 25th birthday – congratulations!) he was invited to stay at Aman by Lucky (well, certainly better than spending the occasion at a FourPoints somewhere in a suburb)
    – I think it adds some value if the hotel includes some local tradition into their offerings, this may even include marking religious holidays (yes, Buddhist Lent – or rather the end of it – is celebrated in Thailand and Laos, contrary to some posts)
    – Bottom line, a nice review, well written by Ford. Of course, I do appreciate if most of the reviews stay within my budget range, but why not sometime have a glimpse beyond …

  76. Aside from grammar, punctuation, syntax, and word choice I agree that this post is extremely well-written.

  77. @Mark right? I get people wanting to be kind, but Ford writes like he`s celebrating his 15th birthday, not his 25. I guess that`s what a childhood of luxury and isolation from the world will give you. That, and the idea that a 1`500 dollar per night hotel room in a 3rd world country is a great value, or that things like this even qualify as experienceing Cambodia lol

  78. Great review!

    @Ford When I first looked at this post and saw it was written by you, I thought, Oh, here come the haters. No doubt Lucky warned you early on about being in the public eye and having to deal with nasty people, and I’m sure you’ve gotten used to them by now. But reading through the hatred is still uncomfortable for many of us, so it must still be unpleasant for you. Ignore them. This was the post I enjoyed most on the blog this week.

  79. The comments on this blog are amusing, it’s as if some people just come on these travel blogs to start a fight or incite hatred for the lolz. I sincerely hope that some introspection on their own part will help them to alleviate their own negative nature so that they can strive to live up to their own positive potential in life. Anyway, the property looks beautiful and I’m glad you guys got to enjoy it. Such a beautiful luxury property already exists and is priced quite high, but if one can afford it, I don’t see why it would be a problem to stay there. Not everything in life has to be a choice based upon some social or political statement.

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