Review: Amanemu Resort

Filed Under: Hotel Reviews, reviews

Historically Amans have been my favorite hotels in the world. I used to find that the group consistently delivered unparalleled experiences, and I’ve gone out of my way to stay at their hotels, and even plan trips around them.

Unfortunately my opinion of Amans is slowly changing. I still like them, but as a brand I can no longer rely on them consistently offering amazing experiences. In other words, I actually need to do my homework and study properties, rather than just saying “Amans never let me down,” which was the case prior to this year. Yes, I know I should have probably done this all along. 😉

Unfortunately our recent stay at Amanemu was probably my least favorite yet.

Booking Amanemu

Amanemu was pricey. The rate was ~$1,000 per night, though we were staying four nights and used the Citi Prestige fourth night free benefit to get the fourth night free, and bring down the average nightly rate to ~$750.

This rate included breakfast, though not other meals.

Obviously this was incredibly expensive and we’re lucky we get to have these experiences.

Getting to Amanemu

Amanemu is located in Shima, which is in the Mie Prefecture of Japan. This is about a two hour direct train ride from Nagoya, and there are several services per day. So we had flown into Nagoya and took the train to Shima, while on the return we were going to Tokyo, so we took the two hour train ride to Nagoya, and then the bullet train to Tokyo, which took under five hours total.

Train to Shima

Train to Shima

The hotel includes complimentary transfers between the train station and hotel, which is about a 20 minute ride. We were picked up in a Lexus, and there were cold towels and water waiting for us in the car.

Transfer from Shima station to hotel

The hotel is located on a hill, and we were dropped off at reception, which is right near the road that leads to the hotel. This is an area you really only go to for check-in, while otherwise you’d never be up here.

Amanemu check-in area


Amanemu check-in area

We were offered a welcome drink and cold towel.

Amanemu welcome drink & cold towel

Yoshi processed our check-in (I’m not sure if she was the manager or what — we never saw any other manager, and we only saw her at check-in), and was incredibly professional and kind. She seemed a bit surprised we were staying for four days, which should have been a warning of what was to come.

I asked about what kind of guests they get, and she explained about 60% of guests are Japanese. It’s funny how the type of guests changed throughout our stay. When we checked in, 100% of the guests were non-Japanese, while on Friday we were the only non-Japanese guests, as it was mostly people on weekend getaways checking in.

Yoshi presented us with a map of the property, and explained the basics to us, before we were brought to our room.

Amanemu map


Amanemu map

Amanemu room

Amanemu has just 24 rooms. There are four room types at the hotel, though interestingly only a single room has two bedrooms. All the others are identical size-wise, and the only thing that varies is the view from the room.

We were in room number six, an entry level room, which is known as a Mori Room. Our room was only a short walk from the main restaurant, bar area, and pool, so that was convenient, since there was no need to call a golf cart to go there.

Walkway to our room at Amanemu

Amanemu room exterior

The room was advertised as measuring 1,065 square feet, though I suspect that includes the outdoor area.

The room was gorgeous, and definitely one of the highlights of the hotel. It was modern but felt appropriate for the area, with lots of Japanese influence.

Amanemu bedroom


Amanemu room

While this was just one big room, it featured a couple of daybeds, a dining table, a desk, and more. The bed was also comfortable.


Amanemu room


Amanemu in-room desk

As is the norm at Amans, there were some snacks in glass containers that were complimentary (rice crackers and cookies), and then the minibar non-alcoholic drinks were complimentary as well, along with the Nespresso machine.


Amanemu in-room snacks


Amanemu in-room minibar


Amanemu Nespresso machine & bottled water

There were huge sliding doors on both sides of the room. On the back side you had the view, which was of Ago Bay. The outdoor area had a couple of daybeds and a table.


Amanemu room balcony


Amanemu room balcony

For an entry level room, we had a nice view of Ago Bay. Some rooms have nicer views, though I don’t think the difference in views is that dramatic.


Amanemu room view

The front side the room just had a small area with rocks. Importantly there was lots of privacy, so you could open the shades but still have privacy.


Amanemu front side of room view

Next to the room was the bathroom, which had double sinks, a walk-in shower, a bathtub, a vanity, a toilet, and a large closet.

Amanemu bathroom


Amanemu shower

The bathtub was just glorious, and had water from the hot springs.


Amanemu bathtub

Toiletries were in reusable plastic containers (usually Amans have toiletries in ceramic containers, in my experience).


Amanemu toiletries


Amanemu closet


Amanemu vanity


Amanemu toilet

So yeah, I have nothing but good things to say about the room — it was beautifully designed, spacious, and wifi was fast and free.

Amanemu restaurant & bar

The hotel has a single restaurant and bar, located just a short walk from our room. Based on all of our research, Shima doesn’t have much in the way of good restaurants, and based on the guests we saw, it seemed like most people had breakfast (7AM-10:30AM), lunch (12PM-2:30PM), and dinner (6PM-10:30PM) here.

The good news is that the restaurant was beautiful.

Amanemu restaurant


Amanemu restaurant


Amanemu restaurant

Then in the building next to the restaurant was a bar area, which was open daily from 11AM until 12AM.

Amanemu bar

Amanemu bar

Amanemu bar

There were a few outdoor tables at the bar, and if you asked nicely they’d serve you lunch there, if you wanted a change of scenery.

Amanemu outdoor restaurant

There were also two outdoor areas where you could have drinks, and they even had fire pits.

Amanemu bar

As someone who always notices ambient noise, what drove me nuts was that neither the restaurant nor the bar ever had any music or anything. Amans often bring in great local artists to perfect (heck, after this we went to the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo, where they had a harpist in the club lounge for afternoon tea).

But it was just total silence in the restaurant, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Often we had the restaurant to ourselves for most of lunch, and it’s just a bit awkward to dine in an environment where you could hear a pin drop.

Service in the restaurant was well intentioned and professional, but was so serious. I felt like nobody was showing any personality. Between that and the lack of noise, I couldn’t help but feel like the restaurant had a somber mood more than anything.

On to the actual food….

Breakfast

Breakfast was included in our room rate. Every other Aman I’ve stayed at basically lets you order whatever you’d like off a huge menu, so you can mix-and-match. At this property they had set menus — you had your choice of two Japanese breakfasts and two American breakfasts.

Twice I had the Japanese breakfast, which sure was a feast.

Amanemu Japanese breakfast

Interestingly the Japanese breakfast came with dessert, while the American breakfast didn’t.

Amanemu Japanese breakfast dessert

The American breakfast wasn’t exactly what I’d call an American breakfast (offering salad seems like a very Japanese take on an American breakfast), but was pretty good nonetheless. With that they rolled out a trolley that had the salad and fruit, and then brought out eggs separately.


Amanemu American breakfast


Amanemu American breakfast


Amanemu American breakfast

While breakfast was plentiful and good, I do wish there would have been more of an option to customize.

Lunch

Lunch was also served in the restaurant, and the menu read as follows (one USD is 106 JPY, and the below pricing doesn’t include a 23% tax and service charge):

The drink list read as follows:

While the prices are high, at least the “set” menus are a significant amount of food, so you don’t need an appetizer or anything else.

Amanemu lunch


Amanemu lunch

Amanemu lunch


Amanemu lunch


Amanemu lunch

While we had Japanese food most days, we also had Western food one day. The Western menu was limited, and the quality of the selection wasn’t great.


Amanemu lunch


Amanemu lunch

Amanemu lunch dessert


Amanemu lunch dessert

Dinner

The dinner menu read as follows:

Amanemu dinner


Amanemu dinner


Amanemu dinner dessert

Objectively the food here was very good. However, the lack of variety got to me. I get this is a small hotel, but without many restaurants in the area, most people are eating all their meals here, and I sure would have loved if they had some sort of sushi option, or heck, anything else.

Amanemu pool

The pool at Amanemu is located near the restaurant and bar, so was still only a short walk from our room. This was a 33m infinity pool that rarely seemed to be used. During our four nights at Amanemu it rained for two days nonstop, so there was only a limited amount of time where we could really use it.

The pool was open daily from 11AM until 6PM. Those seem like awfully restrictive hours, no? I mean, to be fair, we didn’t try to swim when it was technically closed, as they may have still let us (though it’s Japan, so the rules are often just the rules), but still…

Amanemu pool


Amanemu pool


Amanemu pool

Amanemu hot springs

The hotel’s hot springs, spa, and gym, are all located in a separate complex that’s a bit removed from the rest of the hotel.

Amanemu gym and spa

If you walk there it probably takes about 15 minutes, while if you bike it probably takes about five minutes. Otherwise you can just call a golf cart.

Amanemu is currently building residences, and you get a full-on view of these as you go between the areas of the hotel. This caused quite a bit of noise in this area, though we couldn’t really hear it from the guest rooms.

Amanemu residences

The hot springs consisted of two separate “pools” — one with warm water, and one with hot water. They were a fun place to spend some time, so we visited them almost every day.

Amanemu hot springs


Amanemu hot springs


Amanemu hot springs

Amanemu hot springs seating

Given that it was raining for two days of our stay, this was also a nice place to be while it rained, since it’s one of the few outdoor activities pleasant in that weather.

Amanemu hot springs

Amanemu gym

Amanemu has an excellent gym, especially following the two Amans we stayed at in Sri Lanka, neither of which had a gym.

Amanemu gym

Amanemu gym

Amanemu spa

Amanemu has a beautiful spa complex.

Amanemu spa reception


Amanemu spa

Amanemu spa

Treatments were damn expensive. I mean, I was expecting them to be expensive, given that we’re talking about an Aman and Japan, but they were really expensive. For example, a 60 minute massage cost 22,000 JPY plus 23%, which is a total of 27,000 JPY (~255 USD).

I did have one massage, and it was really, really good.

One thing to note is that you’ll want to make your reservations way in advance. Usually when I’m at a secluded resort I don’t like to make long term plans, so I like to decide what I’m going to do that day in the morning. One morning we wanted to see if we could get a treatment, and the next availability was the following afternoon.

Amanemu activities

This is where the hotel sort of starts to fall apart for me. First let me share a list of activities at the hotel, per their catalogue:

I don’t really understand the pricing. A 2.5 hour cycling tour for two people costs $565? A 3.9km hike and bento box lunch costs $800?! What?

I’ve been to a lot of five star resorts, but I’ve never seen pricing quite like this when it comes to activities.

Furthermore, in all their advertising Amanemu uses the below picture (it was even playing in the car when we were being driven to the hotel). As it turns out, this picture is of Kumano Kodo… which is a 3.5 hour drive from the hotel. Kumano Kodo is actually significantly closer to Osaka than it is to Amanemu. It seems like a bit of a stretch to in any way advertise this in association with the hotel, in my opinion.

How far from Amanemu?!

What we ended up doing is a private boat tour, which was oddly one of the most reasonably priced activities.

Amanemu boat tour

The area is known for pearl diving, but other than that isn’t actually that beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, the area is pretty, but when you think of a secluded resort in nature you expect it to be really beautiful. This was more, like, moderately beautiful?


Amanemu boat tour


Amanemu boat tour

That was the only paid activity we did at the hotel. The hotel also has bikes you can borrow to ride around the area, though that ended up being a mess as well. I assumed you could just get the bikes when you wanted them, but as it turns out you can “reserve” them.

When we wanted to use them, they had none available. At the room next to us there were two bikes sitting for over 24 hours, and they didn’t move once, and they were marked as “reserve.”

Amanemu bikes

Meanwhile we really just wanted to bike for a couple of hours. But nope, we were told they were reserved and there was nothing that could be done. You’d think they could at least have two bikes per room.

Amanemu bikes

There’s some golfing around the hotel, but otherwise the area was just bizarre. For a second I almost thought I was somewhere like Jackson Hole, China, as the architecture wasn’t at all what I was expecting.

Shima houses

Amanemu service

Obviously Japan across the board has an incredibly high standard of service, and similarly Amans are known for their high levels of service. So everyone was friendly and genuinely wanted to do a great job, but I’d say service was not among the best I’ve had at Amans:

  • At Amans you’re usually (almost) never asked for your room number, though during this stay I was asked a couple of times
  • At Amans usually housekeeping constantly refreshes your room, and you never even see them; at this hotel housekeeping was still in our room every single morning after we finished breakfast, so we had to wait
  • Service wasn’t very proactive; for example, we’d sit down at the outdoor tables at the bar, but no one would come over unless we went inside and specifically asked for something

So service was by no means bad, but it wasn’t Aman’s best showing in that regard, in my opinion.

Amanemu bottom line

This was my most disappointing Aman stay yet, but let me note that I think the problem was me, and not the hotel. Up until this stay I blindly booked Amans, because I’ve always been so impressed by them.

I’ve visited other parts of Japan, so in this case I just said “well this seems like something fun to do that’s different, I’m sure it will be great.”

Amanemu has some things going for it — the rooms are beautiful, the food is good (though could be more varied), the spa, gym, and hot springs are nice, and the service was generally good (but then again, it is just about everywhere in Japan).

But unfortunately we were disappointed by the area and activities. As it turns out, Amanemu is a place that a lot of people go for a couple of nights as a getaway. I guess if I were in the area I might recommend coming here for a night. After all, the design is beautiful, and the food is good.

Other than that I found the resort lacking, though:

  • The cost of activities here is outrageous, and I’m not usually someone who is easily offended by prices at luxury hotels, since I try to come in with reasonable expectations
  • The resort’s setting is pretty nice, but not actually that stunning; this isn’t a place that’s so picturesque that it looks like a postcard
  • There was a lack of things to do at the hotel; I wish there had been another restaurant, I wish they had more bikes so I didn’t have to beg to use a bike, and I wish they had more therapists for their (very expensive) massage treatments
  • There was something about the vibe of the hotel that I felt was off; while I get the concept of wanting it to be peaceful, I just feel like it was silent, and some sort of music anywhere at any point would have gone a long way

Again, I realize the problem here is me, and not the hotel. I’m sure some people love this hotel, and it makes a great domestic getaway for people in Japan. But I made a big mistake by expecting this place would be great just because it’s an Aman.

For the record I booked this trip a long time ago, and prior to this year was blown away by all Amans I had visited. After my experiences here and in Sri Lanka, I know that I need to do more homework, and not just rely on all Amans offering incredible experiences that I’ll enjoy.

Maybe the mistake was also how long we stayed. In retrospect I wish I had just booked two nights here, and maybe I would have liked it more. I guess that’s why the Citi Prestige fourth night free benefit is both a blessing and a curse.

Ford and I are much more nature people than city people, but on this trip we had such an incredible time in Tokyo, while this was definitely not the highlight.

Has anyone else been to Amanemu, and if so, what am I missing?

Enjoy this review? Check out hundreds of other reports on airlines, hotels, and airport lounges worldwide!
Comments
  1. Lol. There are so many better destination hotels in Japan. Without question the best is Sankara, best hotel, best area. I’m glad that you realized that blindly booking Amans is not the way to go.

  2. Totally agree, many many incredible Amans but don’t book them blind. Just back from two weeks at an Aman and despite going every year I still check the reviews before I book. Worthwhile if you’re shelling out up to $3,000 per night. For what it’s worth I think their standards are declining since the sale.

  3. Omg those prices are insane. If I saw that an activity costs $800 I think I would have had a heart attack.

  4. Great review. And I think this article perfectly highlights why following “brand” alone can be foolish, despite what the PR folks want you to believe. Just because past experiences with the brand were good does not mean your future ones will be, which is why advance research is essential. I’ve noticed that in the miles and points world, people fall easily into traps of brand loyalty even though the net effect is negative.

  5. To be fair, you’re picking a lot of of the cheaper Aman properties.

    Amangiri, Aman Venice, Aman Tokyo, Amanjena, Amanzoe and Amanyara are all superb.

    You also have to consider the history of Aman and that Adrian Zecha is no longer at the helm. With a ton of new Russian money came staff changes and an entirely different way of doing business. Aman went from all-created-as-one to something a bit different.

    Bottom line, know your history and always do a little research before blindly making a reservation.

    … And pony up the $2k+ a night to stay at Aman Venice. It’s stunning.

  6. Wait, are you finally coming to the realization that you have been outrageously ripped off all along?

  7. EJG: There’s nothing wrong with brand loyalty at this level. It’s what keeps places like Aman, Setai, Parrot Cay, Oberoi, etc in business. People who want luxury travel can afford to jump from one property to another. They don’t need to rely on points because most of these properties don’t even have reward programs.

    The only thing that keeps us coming back is the experience. Not a free room. Not a perk from having stayed there a dozen times.

    The Aman brand is still strong. It’ll be interesting to see how and if that changes with all of the new city properties coming online in the next 2-5 years.

  8. EJG: There’s nothing wrong with brand loyalty at this level. It’s what keeps places like Aman, Setai, Parrot Cay, Oberoi, etc in business. People who want luxury travel can afford to jump from one property to another. They don’t need to rely on points because most of these properties don’t even have reward programs.

    The only thing that keeps us coming back is the experience. Not a free room. Not a perk from having stayed there a dozen times.

    The Aman brand is still strong. It’ll be interesting to see how and if that changes with all of the new city properties coming online in the next 2-5 years.

  9. Liked your comment on ambient noise. But I would rather NOT hear other people’s radio or TV news or their taste in music. I learned as a child that the music I was playing was for me and Me Alone !
    How many times does one go to a nice restaurant and have to speak louder to hear each other and not able to enjoy each other’s conversations. How nice it would be to NOT hear hip-hop or rap or country music, etc. If I get to pick for everybody OK, but if not….OK too……let there be peace in the room and anybody can put ear buds to hear their own music for themselves.
    .

  10. Amanzoe is incredible!

    Agree @Benjamin

    Sorry your stay didn’t exceed your expectations.

    Japan is an amazing place!

  11. I have exactly the same view of Amans: still regard them as best hotel brand, but now research them whereas before we went on trust. Amanemu is not the only Aman where the excursions (or indeed food – think Amanzoe) are outrageous: far better value to bring a car and go it alone. That said, I loved Amanemu, probably because it came at the end of a hectic trip, and the service, peace and solitude were magical – along with the hot pools of course!

  12. There’s nothing wrong with brand loyalty at this level. It’s what keeps places like Aman, Setai, Parrot Cay, Oberoi, etc in business. People who want luxury travel can afford to jump from one property to another. They don’t need to rely on points because most of these properties don’t even have reward programs.

    The only thing that keeps us coming back is the experience. Not a free room. Not a perk from having stayed there a dozen times.

    The Aman brand is still strong. It’ll be interesting to see how and if that changes with all of the new city properties coming online in the next 2-5 years.

  13. @Benjamin – I do not find price to be any correlation to quality when it comes to the Aman brand. Some of the cheapest properties they have are in Indonesia and are in my opinion the best I have visited.

    Amanjena?? I thought it was a nice property but it is hardly expensive (think rooms go for around 400 euro in low season) and definitely not that great.

    Agree with the new management, the whole brand has changed in the past few years.

  14. “… we’d sit down at the outdoor tables at the bar, but no one would come over unless we went inside and specifically asked for something

    So service was by no means bad, but it wasn’t Aman’s best showing in that regard, in my opinion.”

    Several times in this article you outlined something atrocious or unacceptable about the property, then said it actually wasn’t that bad.

    Granted I don’t stay at a lot of luxury properties by choice, but this sounds like a terrible destination.

  15. you know i was here this past june and I thought you looked familiar, turns out it was you ! my wife and i had a similar impression.
    we’ve been to amangiri, amanpulo, aman tokyo (and have booked amanzoe for next year) – this was our least favorite.

    that said, it was still a very lovely place. I thought there was plenty of food options (although I love japanese food) and there was more on the menu than I could possibly order in 4 days.

    and not sure what you’ll say in your aman tokyo review but I think that one is the best hotel in tokyo and i’ve sampled pretty much all of the best ones

  16. You know that you don’t have to profusely apologize 10 times for not liking a hotel right?
    Just “Nenn das Kind beim Namen” 😉 = It’s a total ripoff.

  17. I have stayed at some incredible Amans (fave is Amansara) but was completely unimpressed with Amanzoe this summer. No amount of improvement to their food and wine could make this architecturally stunning property worthwhile. From what I gather, it was conceived at the height of the financial bubble in Greece and the awkward, terrible location reflects this.

  18. What a spectacular waste of money. And echoing other readers, glad you didn’t mostly order western food lol.

  19. I think your review makes sense:

    1) You mentioned that the manager was surprised at your staying for 4 days, this is probably because these smaller hotels, and typically ryokans in Japan are designed for 1-2 night stays. Japanese people typically stay 1-2 night, enjoy half-board, the hot spring, and go home. So i’m not surprised that they were surprised when you were staying for 4.

    2) Aman seems to excel with locations where the staff is given a lot of free reign to make the experience that extra level of special. And at least from my experience, I think Japan is not a place where employees in the corporate service industry have the most free reign – at least in what I’ve seen in my 10 trips there over the last 5 years. The hospitality is warm, and the level of service is high, especially in areas of professionalism, but that’s because it’s an expectation that’s communicated. The free reign part is not strong.

    3) Your experience with the bikes makes sense too – rules are not bent in Japan. I don’t think this is a problem at all (this is why the trains are on time), in fact I love traveling to Japan precisely because of this: since it favors people who do the most research and planning.

  20. Get with the program – I (American) eat vegetables every day for breakfast. Far healthier than juice, which I never drink. I get annoyed when the only vegetables I can find at US hotels is the tomatoes that come with the smoked salmon. But most good hotels in the US have vegetables as part of their breakfast buffet.

    Generally it is a good thing if small hotels have a limited menu as it insures the food is fresh. Most people wouldn’t go and stay at a hotel like this one for more than a couple of nights.

    Next time you are in Japan try the Hyatt Regency in Hakone. Half the price of the Aman, close to Tokyo and great service. It is our escape from Tokyo (where we live) when we need a weekend away.

  21. Has anyone been to Amanruya in Bodrum? I have been curious about that one. Any impressions you can share?

  22. @aarowa has it spot on.

    Japanese destination hotels are very much geared at one and two night stays. This year whilst skiing at Rusutsu we stayed off mountain at Toyako onsen, partly for cheapness and partly because lake Toya in the snow is a beautiful sight to wake up to every morning. I can safely say we were the only people staying multiple nights, everyone else was coach parties (japanese, Korean, Taiwanese and Hong Kongers) or over night trippers including lot’s of big family groups holding they oshugatsu family gatherings in the party rooms.

    The staff though we were weird for staying so long but perfectly lovely. Interestingly enough a lot of the hotel staff were Taiwanese to cater for Chinese guests and sometimes easier to speak to in Mandarin than Japanese.

  23. Some of the best countryside places in Japan are the Relais et Chateaux ryokans. Not inexpensive, but less than Aman. Truly authentic and usually in middle of incredible gardens and hot springs. Service is equal to if not better, than Aman, as (1) this is Japan and (2) a good percentage are family owned. I love Aman’s too (an an Amajnunkie), but must pick property
    carefully. I don’t think Zecha would have built this one or the one in Vietnam, dull locations
    and hard to get to.

  24. Interesting comment on the ambient noise. Being Asian and having lived pretty much everywhere, I did notice that Asians seem to tolerate silence/ambient noise a lot more than Americans (especially Americans! 😉

    Watching Hayao Miyakazi cartoons growing up, in both Japanese and English, I noticed the English versions actually had more background music!

  25. Yes, when we went to Japan a few years back and stayed at some lovely properties we picked up that the whole ryokan experience is really designed for a one-night stay. You arrive mid-afternoon, take an onsen bath, have a superlative kaiseki dinner, sleep, wake-up, have another onsen bath, have an excellent breakfast, then depart. The whole stay is designed around a semi-rigid schedule and not lingering multi-day stays. One small Japanese luxury chain we tried was Hiramatsu (we tried the Hiramatsu Atami). Truly stunning property with wonderful food and service and great rooms. My rule of thumb in Japan is to avoid the international chains. I’m sure they still provide lovely experiences, but the Japanese hotels/chains tend to be cheaper and provide more authenticity.

  26. So why did you go to this place? You just picked a hotel without doing any research of the location? It looks nice but feels extremely boring.

  27. It seems like you were lamenting being basically stranded on the resort. I looked it up on a map. Why not ask the guy who picked you up at the train station to give you a lift back to it? It’s in the center of town, and it looks like there are plenty of small izakayas (pubs) and noodle shops nearby. You’d have a delightful meal, good drinks, and probably make some new friends.. all for the cost of a glass of wine at the Amanemu bar!

  28. You also mentioned the association of the Kumano Kodo being odd. It’s a series of pilgrimage routes and whilst they do, indeed start back in Osaka and Wakayama, the Iseji route finishes at the Ise Jingu shrine a mere 30km from the Aman. It’s one of the major attractions of the Ise Penninsular.

  29. I was one of the first guests at the Amanemu (stayed for 2 nights on the first day they opened 3.5 yrs ago) and it surprised me that things didn’t get to change much (I posted the first Amanemu review on FT).

    When I was there I thought it was just due to the hotel opening – now I have a different view.

    It seems the food was marginally better than 3.5 yrs ago – on my stay F&B was outright terrible, not just by Japanese standard.

    I also echo you on the service side – they have good intention but really not that competent/flexible when compared to other old-day Amans. And it seems they never really fixed those service issues. I was exactly like you when choosing Amans as a destination, blindly thinking that one would be taken great care of – and it’s Amanemu that changed my default mind set 3.5 years ago. Unfortunately now it’s been the norm at most Amans I stayed.

    On the excursion price… I think it’s more or less the norm of “higher-end” Amans – Amangiri for example has an even more exuberant activity list filled with four and five figure excursions.

  30. Amanemu was designed as a complement to the Aman Tokyo for the domestic Japanese market–as a weekend getaway, just as was described. It’s not unusual for the wealthy Japanese to head for an onsen weekend, and so Aman built this to satisfy that higher end market demand. Period.

    That’s why the property has a beautiful hard product but doesn’t offer any sort of special activities beyond those of onsen and spa–it’s all about a spa/onsen weekend.

    Not for me. BORING. We didn’t bother.

  31. Lol you go to Japan and drop 3k for 4 nights at a hotel by the ocean in the middle of nowhere? Japan is an incredible county, but it’s not really the type of place you go for a nice resort and expect western-type service. If you want that, just go to Southeast Asia!

  32. “what drove me nuts was that neither the restaurant nor the bar ever had any music or anything”

    More often I have the opposite feeling, especially at places such as this which are supposed to be about tranquility / remoteness / getting back to nature.

    Sitting still outdoors and hearing the distant faint swish of waves on a shore, the gentle rustle of leaves in a breeze, the occasional sounds of birds… that’s what I want from my remote hotels. Not some tragic Narcissist pop-starlet wailing about their self-centred emotional trauma over bippy-boppy muzak. Or, worse, country and western.

    The excursion prices are clearly at rip-off levels, but the hotel itself is something I might actually consider. Some of your complaints strike me as just unrealistic: you expect a hotel with just 24 rooms to have more than one restaurant? But at this price point I’d also expect there to be enough bicycles for everyone.

  33. What’s missing is you don’t do your homework. For every Aman I go to, I always ask for resort map and activity list months before I arrive. That way I can request the most private suite available and have an idea what I want to do on day 1, day 2, etc.. Furthermore, I always go on TripAdvisor and read people’s reviews from one star to five stars. Typically I just read the one and two stars reviews. You can tell usually right away if the reviewers’ complaints are legit or they are just being difficult. Had you done so, you would have known Kumano Kodo is far from the resort!

    Next time when you guys are in Japan again, I would try Hoshinoya. They are another luxury chain in Japan. I would say about the same as Aman level in terms of service and price.

    Btw, $220 for a 60 minutes massage is expensive but guess what, it’s about the same as the one in Wynn Las Vegas or Four Seasons Santa Barbara. What I’m saying is that price isn’t any different than any other luxury resort.

    Try Aman Venice next time. Property is gorgeous and food is quite good. Amanoi is another place you should try. Snorkeling is pretty decent and spa is gorgeous. Of course I would highly recommend you get activity list from both places before you go to make sure there are things you want to do and feel price is reasonable.

  34. Lucky, do you have any plans to go back to Bhutan ever and visit the Amankora properties?

  35. Those food and excursion prices are insane!!

    I’m thinking you will be more selective with the Aman’s from here on out.

    And… those bikes you had to stare at that weren’t being used and SO, so close would have been torture for me.

    Great review though. Thanks.

  36. The Amans with Adrian at the helm, used to be great. However, everything is very formalised and for me the atmosphere that this creates, stops me from totally relaxing. I remember staying at the Amandari, (a year after the Bali terrorist atrocity) We always were the only ones in the restaurant. For every meal we had the chef and 3 waiters constantly hovering over us (asking about the food, every 10 minutes) …..and with a full Balinese musical band of 6 people playing near us and only to us. Can be VERY intimidating and definitely not relaxing.

  37. I agree the Aman brand is not what it used to be. Stayed at amanpuri last November. It was very clear the standards have fallen. By 2nd day I had to aggressively press my complaints, not good for $1k/night resort.

    N longer an Aman absolutist, as others say, will do my homework.

  38. Probably staying in a real traditional ryokan would be a more interesting experience. Sleeping i on a futon placed in a tatami room, having some thermal baths, dining in your room with food served by an attendantd dre4ssed with a kimono is amazing. Japan has the oldest hotels (ryokan) in the world and they are stunning and surely less expensive than this cold and soulless Aman…

  39. Remote places in Japan are just that, remote. Labour is expensive and not always available. I would never think of rural Japan as a uber luxe destination.

  40. I’m sorry you had such a disappointing time in Shima. However, in my humble opinion, you had such a terrible time there because you had a very particular idea about how your experience should have occurred, and the reality did not match your (unrealistic) expectations.

  41. Honestly, I never understood why you would pay that much money for a hotel in the middle of nowhere.

  42. I visited Amanemu few weeks after opening and had similar complaints about housekeeping (knocking on the door to clean), little bit slow service, general manager hiding somewhere, not enough cars for transportation… And thought that are problems shortly after opening.

  43. Its very common for Japanese rural inns to provide complimentary pick-ups from the local train station (even non-luxury inns do this). Probably not necessarily in a Lexus SUV though!

  44. Am surprised you took one of the oldest trains to Iseahima. Try the Premium Express Shimakaze, that’s one of the best trains.

  45. this hotel seems incredibly boring in the middle of nowhere lol. sorry u had this experience.

    btw Lucky, IT’S OKAY to not like something and to express your honest feelings about it. This article reads a lot like you’re tip toeing around how you really feel so to not “offend” anyone. It’s your blog, your experience, your opinion, man up and say it like it is!!!! 🙂

  46. A little bit of me died when I saw that price of that sad pasta dish. $20+ for that is unacceptable. Glad you did not opt for much more western food, but very disappointing to see such mediocre western food at such a high-end hotel

  47. The last time I stayed at Amans , it was at the first one (Amanpuri, in Phuket) and Amanpulo in the Philipines.
    Amanpuri is kind of falling appart : tiles missing at the pool, steps to the beach that nead a couple of nail, the service at the beach restaurant as good as non-existing, etc …
    As for Amanpulo, it really needs a revamp. Feels old and aged, and the only decent service I’ve got was at the beachside pizzeria … Plus the limits of 15kg airplane bagagge suks !

  48. “These remarkable women are as hardy as they are alluring” – that just cracks me up for some reason…

    “It is said that the ama came into existence due to the female ability to resist the cold better than men…” – Really? The women I know are always freaking out about the A/C and such

  49. Lucky I think you are being too apologetic in your review… just be blunt about it the hotel doesn’t sound brilliant at all, for the price.

    For a couple of days at an onsen spa you can do far better than this – as someone else mentioned, Relais & Chateaux have several ryokans that are gorgeous.

    The activity prices are outrageous but that seems to be the norm at Aman resorts. Sad that the brand is losing consistency…

  50. Haven’t been here, always thought it looked kind of boring from the pictures. Aman Kyoto opens soon, maybe that will be more successful.

  51. I’m quite surprised by the notes on service! When we stayed at Amanemu we were thoroughly impressed by the staff’s attention to detail and ability to anticipate our needs. We never ran into housekeeping nor, for that matter, did we ever need to identify ourselves. What’s more, bikes were never that hard to come by. Yes, everything was expensive but last time I checked Japan is an expensive country so we weren’t dealing with too much sticker shock.

    I will echo others comments, however, at the length of stay. We went for two nights en route to Kyoto and it was the perfect amount of time to onsen, visit some beches, and then move on. I’d imagine day three starting to become quite repetitive.

  52. Enjoyed reading this review and, I always appreciate your honesty in your blog.

    Amanemu is way overpriced.. That things with the bicycles is outrageous that highlights a totally inflexible side of Japan.. Given all the world class “ryokan” within Japan and Japan’s increasingly depressed economy, I was surprised to read about the underwehlming experience you had had at the Amanemu..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *