A SUMMER FINALE AT AMAN SUMMER PALACE
ONE-NIGHT-STAY VOL. 3
Change of a season always reveals a mystery we never anticipate. Without knowing it, the flowers bloom to its peak; the fragrance of new breeze in the air, daylights shorter, and sweater is out there by your armchair.
Just like a usual summer weekend, my one night sojourn at AMAN SUMMER PALACE, BEIJING after the check-in seemed ephemeral. I was lost in time. Without knowing it, I was standing by the same desk, and waiting for the check-out.
Looking back, I couldn’t figure out what happened at my weekend here. However, as the taxi started to wheel me away from the hotel, I gradually recollected what my meaning of AMAN encompasses.
A for "Ambiance of the origin"
A UNESCO World Heritage site, China’s one-and-only Summer Palace houses AMAN Summer Palace within its vast compound. This was where the Cixi and the royal retinues retreated and hosted their special guests. The original architecture and objets d’art remain intact, and the hotel ensures its guests the similar experiences as they were for the imperial guests centuries ago.
Through thick and thin—the belle époque of imperial courts, a busy and bustle administration office, and, a tranquil and elegant hotel, AMAN Summer Palace stands the test of time. Clustered in multiple courtyards, each pavilion with its original fixtures and imposing 4-metre-high ceiling creates a quaint atmosphere which renders both majestic treat and simple well-being.
M for "Mystery unfolded"
Like a Pandora box, ones are always anxious to know what is inside. No, I don’t mean you find something secretive or mysterious here. Rather, without knowing it, I was walking in, sitting among, and becoming a part of the history—the history through which romance and jealousy, betrayal and loyalty, or power and defeat evolved.
The hotel provides a special access to Summer Palace via The Red Door, which allows the guests a privilege to enter the palace in no time. Unlike the regular opening hours to the public, The Red Door welcomes its guests as the dawn breaks and the twilight dims.
Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing first built in 1750, largely destroyed in the war of 1860 and restored on its original foundations in 1886 – is a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value.
Keen to understand why Summer Palace is listed on UNESCO's world heritage list? Click here for 7 facts you must know about Summer Palace >>
A for "Amicable Touch"
I arrived at The Red Door with the butler leading me towards the secret path. At the Door, he courteously sent me off and gently handed me a map and a wireless phone. The instruction to me was: if I ever get lost anywhere or need anything, press 1 for a prompt and immediate service.
One can roam as far and privately as one wishes in this enormous haven of antiquity, but the hotel service is so near yet invisible till you ask for it.
As it was a palace being embedded with legends and rituals, the hotel is no exception. Suave and well-mannered, the hotel’s staff take time to conduct a concise orientation to the complex residence upon my arrival.
While the staff’s friendly and graceful touch enlivens the legendary stewardship of the palace’s heydays, their meticulous caring epitomizes the beauty of service that only the AMAN hotels own.
N for "Name that tells"
The prefix AMAN speaks for itself and that makes AMAN a true destination. Mostly non-business travelers at large think of destinations before they decide where to stay, but AMAN makes us think of its properties before we decide which country to go. Among AMAN’s 31 destinations over 20 countries, it is unfair to compare one with another because each possesses its own ethos.
What I did not realize then and what I know now is the genuine AMAN characters are multi-faceted—the gem cutting technique that gives diamond beauty from different angles.
An espousal between the Aman class with the locals' elites virtually tells what ones would experience and relish during theirstay at any AMANs--whether for a lengthy week or for a blink of one night.
Without knowing it, the taxi brought me home already. Thoughts of AMAN Summer Palace lingers on. Memory is not ephemeral. Whether it was because of the history that comes alive in front of me, or serenity extended through AMAN Summer Palace’s original ambience, I make no attempt to figure it out. I let the senses of AMAN dwell … till I meet another AMAN somewhere out there.