Aman means peace in Sanskirt and Zoe means life in Greek--peaceful life--how apt a name to describe this zen like sanctuary. Opened in 2012, Aman’s sleek luxury resort is surrounded by olive groves overlooking the Eastern Peloponnese island of Spetses. Similar to New Yorkers exodus to the Hamptons, this is where the well to do have homes to escape Athens for the weekend. It’s mainland Greece, a place many don’t know to visit, perfect if you want to explore a different part of the country or as a stop before or after island hopping.
Tripper Tips:Read Daniel Klein’s Travels with Epicurus, a lovely book about aging gracefully, set on Hydra. Archaeological buffs have more to explore! Other important sites include the legendary Citadel of Mycenae, the Cemetery of Dendra, The Temple of Hera, and Monemvasia’s preserved medieval churches.
Logistics: Amanzoe is approximately a 2½-hour drive from Athens or a 2-hour journey by hydrofoil from the Athenian port of Piraeus. You can splurge and charter a helicopter – a flight of just 25 minutes from Athens Airport and land on Aman’s own helipad outside the front gates.
Setting: Walk in to a modern riff on ancient Greece with stunning architecture designed by Ed Tuttle. The spacious reflecting pool leads to a huge terrace overlooking the olive groves and the distant ocean, perfect for a late day cocktail at sunset. The design is clean, sparse, and all white and creams with tons of marble and stone.
Rooms: More than a room, each suite is a stand-alone pavilion set in its own courtyard with a private plunge pool looking out towards the sea. It is one of the nicest rooms I’ve ever stayed in. Everything is thoughtfully designed with local materials, this is not Aman, who are typically located in Asia, recreating their stunning signature Asian design in Greece, but instead creating an authentic Greek feel and style.
Relax: Incase you’re not feeling relaxed enough, the spa offers amazing treatments using natural products from the local olive groves.
Food: Everything is fresh and locally sourced. The Amanzoe’s menu lists local producers by name. The honey is from local bees, nearby farms supply the produce, and the olive oil comes from the trees on the property. Overall the food was delicious, simple and healthy.
Sun and Sand: At the main complex there is a beautiful pool, but most people tend to base themselves at the private beach club, a 8-10 minute drive by shuttle van from the hotel. (For the fit, you can use Amans mountain bikes to get there as well.) With two 25-metre lap pools and another smaller kids pool, it's very easy to spend the entire day there, doing nothing more than relaxing on loungers in the sun or beneath shady pergolas. There is also a full restaurant and bar open throughout the day. While it was a slight annoyance to shuttle to the beach, once there the set up is first rate. And back at the main complex the views from up high justify the distance to the beach.
Landscape: Reminiscent of Tuscany, it’s very hilly and dry, with the ocean off in the distance. The property is new and will get more lush each year as the olive trees mature.
Must do: The Peloponnese is most beautiful out on the water. Rent the Wally One, Aman’s luxury speedboat, for the day to visit the neighboring islands of Hydra and Spetses and swim in secluded coves. The Wally One was extremely comfortable for our family of four. Its not inexpensive, but well worth it. Hydra approximately a 25 min boat ride from Amanzoe, is a dream. There are no cars on the island, making it a lovely place to wander and explore. Have a drink or a bite in one of the seaside cafes overlooking the gorgeous harbor. Hydra has no real beaches, so people swim off the rocks. A good spot up from the harbor is the Sunset restaurant; you can have a drink while watching the swimmers below. Soak in the scenery--this is picture postcard Greece. Larger Spetses has its own charms and beautiful beaches. Take a horse drawn carriage to view the lovely Venetian and neoclassical mansions. There are nice shops and many places to eat, Amanzoe can give you their recommendations or pack you a picnic lunch if you prefer.
Day trip: The historic town of Nafplio is approximately one hour by car. It is one of the original capitals of Greece and a charming town in which to spend the day. Visit the historic Palamidi Castle, wander the streets, and dine at one of the seaside taverns. On the way back, stop at the old amphitheater of Epidaurus, a Unesco World Heritage site and one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece.
Drink: The quality of the Greek wines were a big surprise, we really enjoyed both the reds and the whites. Near Amanzoe there are numerous vineyards open for wine tastings. The hotel can arrange tours and tastings if you’re interested.
Late Night: Spetses has many restaurants, bars and clubs where people party till the early morning, the water taxi from Porto Heli to Spetses takes 10 minutes and runs all night.