We did not stay at this facility but we visited this place with intention for a weekend brunch, after reading about the story of the village concept somewhere. We only ate there and strolled around the compound.
The uphill ride in itself supports the idea of a pilgrimage to the secluded resort, and the foggy weather and golden sun rays that morning further helped to create the wonderful feeling of discovering a hidden gem.
Everything felt perfect... until we arrived at the pavilion with the 'security', who asked us what was our business being there. We said we would like to visit the restaurants for a meal, and he asked if we made reservations. (It was around 9.30am) We did not (and did not expect that we had to), and he said the restaurants are probably full. I asked if I can enter and try to check at the restaurant anyway, the man said, "well if there is no other matter...." Certainly not very welcoming. It is my first time at an Aman so I am not sure what to expect (that is, if Aman is a very snobbish resort or not?) but there is no way I am going downhill after coming all the way up without entering the premises, so I asked again if we could enter to check the restaurant out and he agreed. (Now I am wishing I have noted his name.)
The planner/landscape architect/designer did a fantastic job. We loved the journey going through (although the reception staff also gave us another cold welcome). It is not the 'real deal' village of course but it was moving... and on a small bridge, we met the first warm face of Aman - Mr Carl Fang - who directed us to the restaurants and gave a quick run down on the types of restaurants in the resort.
We visited the Chinese and Western restaurant - which were both empty when we arrived, so I wonder why the 'security' was so concerned about our lack of reservations - and settled for the Chinese one that looked more rustic. (We were also told at one of the restaurants that the others were not open till 12, but we found out later the vegetarian one is actually opened before 12) The food was slightly disappointing - it is not expensive by resort standards world-wide, but compared to the typical standard I have been having, I would say the value of the meal lies in the setting not the taste. We had Char Siew Buns (dry... below average), special noodles (OK), and porridge (rather nice) for around 200RMB. The service in the restaurant was also mediocre as staff were not attentive (surprising for a restaurant with less than 10 medium size tables).
In the gift shop, we met another wonderful person that made our day. Ms Lian Chen gave excellent explanations on many of the exquisitely designed items in the shop. If I could, I would have bought the entire shop based on her patience to share the stories of the designer pieces. She also offered to help us contact reception to call for cab in advance when she knew we were leaving.
We did not stay till the night but based on our observations, I do think that once night falls, the resort will be consumed by darkness.
The people I mentioned were instances I made an effort to notice their names because I think they deserve to be praised - they looked so happy to be (working) there, to be meeting visitors and making sure that they are well taken care of and that they feel good. These are the people that make me want to revisit Amanfayun, and hope that we will meet these good people again when I am there.
Amanfayun is a beautiful place, and it needs cheerful, kind people to make this 'village' welcoming and warm. Let not the grouches ruin the village.