Arriving late in the afternoon at the Amanera resort on the verdant north coast of the Dominican Republic, I was handed an Amanera Sunrise, the resort’s signature welcoming drink of pineapple juice, lime juice, beetroot juice and soda water topped with passion-fruit seeds.
It was the first of many special touches during my stay at the newest Aman Resorts property that opened on Nov. 23, the 29th property in its global portfolio and second in the Caribbean, joining Amanyara in Turks and Caicos.
During the hourlong ride from the Puerto Plata airport, I passed sleepy beach villages and drove by Cabarete, the kiteboarding capital of the Dominican, according to my driver, Melville, who also told me that “drivers here are crazy, there is no speed limit” and warned me that “Amanera is not like any other place you’ve ever seen.”
He was right. Amanera is a tranquil, serene and intimate luxury resort, coupled with a food-and-beverage team that delivers a mix of haute cuisine and Dominican dishes straight from the sea and nearby farms.
The resort, which took three years to build, sits atop 60-foot-high cliffs, set between the crescent-shaped, mile-long Playa Grande beach and a golf course that was designed by Robert Trent Jones and recently renovated by his son, Rees.
The backdrop for the resort is the wild, untamed jungle of the Septentrional mountain range, which is laced with hiking trails, birdlife and dense foliage.
Amanera draws its name from the Sanskrit-derived word for “peace” and “era” and the word for “water” in Taino, a language spoken by the indigenous people of the Caribbean.
The dramatic, all-glass contemporary Casa Grande, the main building at the heart of the resort, appears to float above three levels of waterways with views of the ocean, jungle and golf course at every turn.
Water is as intrinsic to Amanera’s design as its sleek designs and open spaces. Infinity-edge waterways are the borders for the open-air bar and lounge in Casa Grande and spill onto a curved swimming pool next to the resort’s signature restaurant.
I dined at Amanera’s main restaurant for dinner, at the Beach Club for a casual lunch, ordered room service for breakfast of a Dominican egg souffle with mangu (mashed plantain) and cracked open a Presidente beer after a swim.
In between, I hiked, explored, took my first Pilates class, had a boat ride through the mangroves and enjoyed a family-style meal at a place called Babunuco, where the Dominican chef later showed me how to roll an Arturo Fuente cigar.
A perfecto trip.