As my family and friends will attest, I’m not often lost for words, but for a few brief moments, when I’ve first entered the private villa that will be my home for the next three days, I’m speechless.
Behind me is a striking central pavilion with chic living and dining spaces, contemporary furnishings, and modern artworks set under a cathedral ceiling swathed in Indonesian teak.
To my left and right, six separate guest pavilions are nestled in manicured gardens and connected by stone paths, wooden boardwalks, and neatly clipped hedgerows.
Ahead of me is another expansive sun deck, with a vast blue-black infinity pool and two oversize bronze urns at either end, overlooking a tranquil pond surrounded by dense tropical vegetation.
The water is so dark and still that a pair of ornamental trees standing sentry in the middle of the lake creates a perfect mirror-like reflection.
And just when I think that perfection can’t be improved upon, Amm and Oscar—the villa’s personal chef and host—emerge from their quarters behind the central pavilion to introduce themselves.
“Welcome to Amanyara,” says Amm, her soft voice and accent instantly giving away her Thai heritage. “I’ll show you to your suite,” says Oscar
The villa’s serene waterside setting, oriental-style pavilions, exotic gardens, and Asian staff all conspire to make me think I’m in Thailand, Indonesia, or the Philippines.
But this jaw-dropping villa, tucked within a spectacular oceanfront resort, is actually located on the northwest coast of Providenciales on Turks and Caicos—a cluster of eight islands and 40 cays basking in the Atlantic about 580 miles southeast of Miami.
An older sibling to Amanera in the Dominican Republic and one of 31 ultra-luxury resorts and hotels around the world in the exclusive Aman collection, Amanyara offers an exceptional vacation experience and a unique investment opportunity in its private villas (more on that later), wrapped up in a cocoon of five-star luxury.
And with only 38 guest pavilions and 19 magnificent villas, all with views of ocean, ponds, or coastal vegetation, this alluring resort is an ideal choice for couples and multigenerational families alike.
While many upscale retreats in Providenciales (or Provo as it’s known locally) are cheek by jowl along popular Grace Bay, Amanyara enjoys a much more dramatic and secluded setting about 25 minutes by road from the island’s international airport.
Getting to the resort is an adventure in itself with a small fleet of sturdy Land Rovers whisking new arrivals west across the island until the paved road runs out and a rugged, unpaved track meanders deep into a wild coastal nature reserve.
The resort’s architecture is both monumental and intimate, designed in a contemporary Asian style that looks as sharp and fresh as the day it was unveiled more than a decade ago.
Set in three separate pavilions around a placid reflection pond, the resort’s social hubs include the main restaurant; a striking circular bar with a vaulted ceiling; and a library, boutique, and movie screening room.
The bar leads out to a tree-shaded terrace and an immense infinity pool framed by three towering relaxation salas—one at each end and the other dead center—all delivering panoramic headland views.
A pathway leads from the bar around to another outdoor terrace next to the restaurant, offering alfresco dining by day and night and pretty vistas over natural vegetation to the ocean beyond.
Walk a little farther and you’ll reach the resort’s beach club, dive center, and Nature Discovery Center—Amanyara’s thoughtful and educational take on the standard kids’ club—just steps from a crescent of powdery sand beach.
With an array of enticing guest facilities—including a fabulous spa, Pilates studio, yoga sala, fitness center, and a clubhouse with tennis courts, volleyball court, and golf simulator—Amanyara appeals to the most active vacationers.
The renowned marine park just offshore is home to world-class wall and coral reef diving, while beach club staff can arrange snorkeling, fishing, whale watching, and other watersports.
A challenging round of golf is also available at Providenciales Golf Club, a 35-minute drive from the resort and rated among the top 10 courses in the Caribbean.
The resort’s executive chef, Erik Gremmer, leads a talented team, offering classic Asian and modern Mediterranean dishes in the main restaurant and more casual fare inspired by Latin America and the Mediterranean at the breezy beach club.
Guests can opt to dine in the privacy of their accommodations, and many reserve the memorable ocean cove or beachside dinner under the stars, a highlight of the Amanyara experience.
While many resorts seek to change their natural environments, importing non-native flowers, plants, and trees to create a colorful but Disneyesque version of paradise, Amanyara actively embraces its unique yet fragile ecosystem.
I spent a fascinating morning on a coastal nature hike with resident naturalist Jackie Walker, who helps guide the resort’s stewardship of its coastal and marine environment.
Amanyara’s Sea Turtle Initiative is just one example, tagging turtles on the Caicos Banks to help safeguard the green and hawksbill turtle populations on Turks and Caicos.
On land, says Walker, Aman was very careful to minimize the resort’s original footprint, allowing the surrounding natural vegetation to grow wild and effectively screen much of the resort from view.
This eco-sensitive approach also extends to Amanyara’s manmade landscapes. “All of our vegetation is native to the islands,” says resort manager Serge Ditesheim. “We haven’t imported any flowering plants because they won’t survive beside the ocean and don’t belong in this environment.”
The result is a network of low-rise pavilions and villas, either fronting the rocky shoreline and beach or clustered around five manmade ponds.
The 38 timber-shingled pavilions range in size from 700 to 850 square feet and are largely identical in inclusions and interior design, each featuring a king-size bed, writing desk, large bathroom with soaking tub and double vanity, ample storage space, and floor-to-ceiling windows opening to generous outdoor spaces.
Two much larger pool pavilion suites have two bedrooms plus a children’s room and feature a 60-foot lap pool, expansive terrace, and private walled garden, while the signature Amanyara Pavilion has a pool, an outdoor sala, and beautiful ocean views.
If you need more space, 17 expansive villas are available for rent, ranging in size from three to six bedrooms and featuring infinity pools, sun decks, outdoor showers, spacious living and dining areas, kitchens, outdoor dining pavilions, and a private chef and host.
Five villas offer direct beach access, four are oceanfront along the resort’s coastline, and eight overlook ponds, many with reflection pools and beautifully landscaped gardens.
In a rare offering, five Amanyara residences are currently on the market, ranging in price from $6.8 million to $9.25 million, and a new nine-acre parcel of direct beachfront land has been approved for five more brand-new villas available for purchase.
Courtney Miller, head of sales and marketing at Caicos Resorts Ltd./Yara Realty, says Amanyara’s residential element functions much like a private club. “Owners ultimately have control over who buys in, and part of that thinking is to create a community of like-minded individuals,” she says.
Owners enjoy full access to the resort amenities, benefit from Aman’s expert management of the resort and residences, and can place their villas in Amanyara’s successful guest rental pool.
“The majority of owners are from the U.S. northeastern seaboard, with varied backgrounds, and know at least one other couple here,” Miller says.
“Most usually come three to six times a year, especially during holiday periods when the resort comes alive with tennis and spa specialists, fun tournaments, and celebrities, but it’s all very understated,” she adds.
Miller notes that multigenerational families have been a major component of Amanyara over the past ten years. “It’s amazing how well kids are integrated into the resort, and that strong sense of community is certain to continue,” she adds.
Back in my private villa, with Amm creating sensational Asian-inspired meals and Oscar taking care of every whim, life is about as good as it gets. I could definitely get used to this.