This was our 4th stay in Amanzoe in less than 2 years, which might give you an idea of what we think of the resort. With each visit, we only ever do 3-4 days at a time, as whilst there are certainly activities to do, we prefer to use the resort to relax and enjoy the resort itself, rather than going off site.
Amanzoe, Porto Heli, Greece
Room type: Pool Pavilion
Duration: 25th > 28th May
Like many Aman’s, it’s not an easy place to get to. We always take the first flight from LHR T5 to ATH at 6:45am. This is the first time we’ve flown with BA since they “upgraded” all their Club Europe seats to the exact same as Economy. Suffice to say, it is a terrible upgrade that brings no value at all. I’d recommend flying with someone else, but haven’t enough experience to say who and if it would actually be any better. Once you’ve landed, you should be through the airport in no time. We only ever take carry-on, so once the plane was at the gate and the door opened, we were out of the airport within just under 10 minutes; not once have we ever had a queue at passport control. Your 3 choices of getting to Amanzoe once you’ve arrived in Athens are: helicopter, Aman collecting you, or renting a car. We’ve done all 3 between the visits and tend to go with helicopter on the way there, and have Aman take us back via car. That way you can appreciate the beautiful views across the Peloponnese. Travel via helicopter will take you around 40 minutes, whereas a car will take around 2.5 hours.
Amanzoe had 4 room types back during our first stay in 2013: sea view, deluxe sea view, valley view and deluxe valley view. The differences between deluxe and standard were simply that some of the villas had a 6m long pool whereas others are 12m long. After “client feedback” this has now changed to a simple standard or deluxe room type, with the same rules applying around the pool size. It certainly doesn’t require any detective skills to understand why this changed, as even though we booked a sea view, you could barely see it at all.
We have only ever stayed in either pavilions (there are no rooms here) 26, 27 or 28, as we want easy access to the rest of the resort. With 38 pavilions available, I don’t imagine you can pick a bad one, especially as the rooms are identical, yet the layout can change slightly between them.
Personally I would not pay extra for the bigger pool, notably because I always want it warmed up and even with a 6m pool they cannot go above 30 Celsius, which I still find too cold to want to just relax within. You’re also not going to run out of pools at Amanzoe to use, with there being a large selection to choose between. The rooms are simply stunning, with no expense spared and privacy at the forefront of the design. Each contains a large outdoor area, with dining area, pool and lounge chairs. Inside you have a his and hers bathroom, large double shower, with a glass roof to let sunlight in, and a bath next to a double window that over looks the patio. I cannot do justice in describing how good they look, so let a few pictures do the job for me.
This is where Amanzoe really excels. Let me just summarise what is on offer here, without going into all the specifics:
- Main pool
- Kids pool
- Pool restaurant
- Main restaurant
- Outdoor area for drinks and watching the sunset
- Beach club restaurant
- 3 pools by the beach club
- Free use of water sports at the beach club, such as kayaks and sailing
- Largest spa at any Aman
Basically, there is a lot of water on offer around here. It is definitely worth knowing that the Beach Club is around 6km from the actual resort though, so don’t feel you’re just going to go on a quick stroll after breakfast to get there. Aman, of course, offers free shuttle services down there as and when you want. The beach is not privately owned, so you can randomly get people passing through. In the last 12 months, the Beach Club has added cabanas which you can rent for the day, so you can stay at the beach without the need to go back to the main resort. As expected, they are of a very high quality and offer a smaller, less private version to the main room. I’d only suggest that it’s quite strange they have their own pools, yet due to having no front, you are easily visible to anyone who so chose to go stand nearby. Whilst we were there, they were building a new spa and gym for the Beach Club, so it truly will be possible to spend the entire day there and receive the entire Aman experience. It’s great to see that a 3 year old hotel is investing so much into improving itself.
The spa offers a variety of treatments, with Watsu being one of their signature offerings, with 2 heated indoor pool areas built just for this. I would still only rank it as our 3rd favourite Aman spa though, as they don’t offer a sauna, hot tub or heated pool, like the Water Pavillion at Amangiri, or a private area like the suites at Amanoi. The spa manager, Stavros, is unbelievably helpful though and has several times given us a room just to use the steam room, run a bath or use the Watsu pool. As you might be able to tell, we like being warm.
Without a doubt my favourite Aman for food; this time though they really excelled. As seems to happen so many times in my life, the moment I truly love something on a menu, I can be sure it won’t be there in a few months time. Alas, this is where I found myself this time. In asking for my favourite food, all of it was off the menu. This resulted in 2 chefs coming out to speak to me, and them sourcing all of the food I wanted and making it all for me, exactly as it was before. They’ve now added Asian food onto the menu, but I didn’t ever try it. There does appear to be some strange decision making taking place regarding what restaurant you should use and when, and this is not only changing every time we visit, but they also change it with the seasons too. For example, the breakfast buffet didn’t exist this time, and we were told it would told it would only be available in peak season.
Neither of us drink alcohol, so I can only tell you the milkshakes are great!
This is ultimately what makes Aman stand out. Whilst the service on the previous 3 times was almost flawless, I’ve never been whilst the resort is full, like it was this time. It will feel like I’m finding small issues here, but they never existed before and Amanjunkies would definitely pick up on them. Some include:
- Having to ask twice for what I want in the mini-bar, only for it not to happen. Having stayed 3 times, I’d have thought they’d know already what I wanted.
- Our room was just not cleaned one morning after breakfast and on the second day they had only just started once we got back from breakfast. I’ve never even seen the cleaning staff before on previous visits. It seems they perfectly synchronise between knowing you’re having breakfast and getting into your room immediately. Breakfast is not a quick affair (which I’m perfectly happy with, as we’re in no rush) and can easily take 90 minutes, so I’m not sure if they were under staffed.
- Very slow service at dinner.
- Needing to ask several times for water, as they had forgot. We also have a preference of ice and lemon with our water, but had to ask this every single time, on previous visits they always remembered this after only asking 1 person once.
As I said, these are all very minor, but I hold Amanzoe in such high regard, I couldn’t feel disappointed in it, so did mention it to the new GM who took it very seriously and apologised.
- There is a selection of free movies to choose from on the TV, with some being just released. If you go outside of July/August, be prepared that the weather may not be perfect, so these value-added services are nice touches.
- There is no service charge added by default, so it’s optional if you want to add one. You will never be asked if you want to offer one, it will be down to you to bring it up at the point you pay the bill.
- The mini bar is free and they’ll stack it with almost anything you want. When we took my father for his birthday last year, they imported the beer he wanted and he had a seemingly unlimited, free supply of it for the entire time we were there.
- There’s no extra charge for room service, which is a nice touch
- I’m 6ft 2, so the bath in the pavilion is too small for me to use, which seems a massive shame as they have so much space. I also thought it was a shame not to include jets on it, as they do in the spa baths.
- Possibly the most stunning of all Aman properties. Incredible rooms, with actual easy to use lighting controls (gasp!), double bathrooms and an incredible outside area, ideal for private dining. Every single room has its own private pool for maximum privacy.
- You would be hard pressed to find many resorts that offer this level of privacy. Just to get into the room you must go through 2 double-locked doors, the first to let you into the courtroom area. Unlike some resorts, like Amanoi, whereby staff can be outside your door and looking in without any notice, Amanzoe has thought everything through to ensure you won’t be disturbed.
- Some food recommendations, which are no longer on the menu: black cod (I actually consider this better than Zuma’s), Beef Tagliata, Mojito dessert. The French toast, which they’ve kept on the menu, is divine.
- The service was definitely not up to the normal standards this time. Anyone who is a regular Aman visitor will have their stories regarding the best service they have ever received, but I certainly won’t be telling the theoretical grandkids about this one.
- Be prepared for a long journey. If you’re in England, you’ll likely look at the flight time and start planning your weekend break there, but I would suggest no less than a 4 night stay. If you get the BA 6:45am -> 12:20, you will still be lucky to arrive at the resort by 3pm, unless you’re taking the helicopter.
- I cannot emphasis enough how much they went out of their way to make the food that was no longer on the menu. When I mentioned how much I loved the previous menu and it was a shame it wasn’t there anymore, the response was like I’d found poison in my food. Immediately the chefs (yes, two came out) were out talking to me and ensuring they would source all the ingredients and prepare the food for me. It was executed to perfection.
I would not hesitate in recommending Amanzoe to anyone. Even though it had its faults this time, we will be going back for our 5th visit either later this year outside peak, or next year. Due to schools on half-term around Europe, there were a lot of families there with young children, whereas mostly we’re used to seeing couples there. As a young(ish) couple ourselves, we’re used to aiming for places where it’s almost inclusively adults, but we weren’t disturbed at all by any of the other guests with children. We will definitely return, but I think I’ll avoid going during a school break, as the service should improve with them not so busy.