At the end of our 7 night stay at Amanruya, my partner and I agreed it was one of the finest resorts we have experienced. The resort excels in almost every category and will undoubtedly become wildly popular for obvious reasons. Nonetheless, there are a few glaring errors which prevents us from giving this resort an unqualified recommendation.
The resort is located outside of the picturesque town of Torba. The winding road to the resort is sheltered by hills and hugs the aquamarine Aegean Sea. The resort itself is snuggled in a rather dense forest of pine trees and provides a commanding water view. What is most spectacular is the sheer beauty of the architecture. The resort is modeled after a traditional Anatolian village. The cobblestone paths which wind their way throughout this vertical resort give it an authentic Turkish vibe. The villas and other buildings are constructed of gorgeous salmon colored rock. There are no signs or arrows, so navigating the winding cobblestone pathways is both a challenge and a pleasure which provides a delightful setting. The resort is rather like an elegant maze. The landscaping is amazingly lush and the villas are nestled among groves of olive trees providing great privacy and a natural feel. What surprised us the most was the sheer number of dining pavilions and inside and outdoors eating and lounging areas. There are almost too many to choose from. The most impressive structure is a three story library. The top floor has a 360’ sectional sofa and floor to ceiling windows which offer guests a commanding vista of the resort, sea, hills and distant mountains. One of the few unfortunate design elements is an enormous infinity edge pool which is jammed between the many eating and lounging areas. Since it is not heated, it will become nothing more than an abnormally large water feature six months of the year. I chose not to use the pool as the view of the sea is obscured and I felt totally exposed and “on stage” as the pool is literally wedged in the middle of the common dining areas. It is sad that is the focal point of the resort. If it were heated and overlooked the sea, it would have been a spectacular pool. The gym is very small with a few pieces of equipment. There is great beach club which is a five minute buggy ride from the resort. It has nice tables where you can eat lunch, comfortable chairs and a nice boat dock. It is heavily wooded and you feel as if you are at a luxury camp. There is no real sand or beach to speak of, but the water provides a beautiful backdrop.
The villas are terrific. There is a decent size living area. The four poster bed with curtains is very comfortable. There is a work space and desk behind the bed. There is a large dressing area and ample closet space. The bathroom is a work of art. There is white marble on the floor and walls. The sink basins are so enormous and resemble small bathtubs. There is a lovely soaking tub. The shower is large but the shower head does not provide strong water pressure especially when using hot water. In fact, when you use hot water in the sink, the hot water in the shower turns cold. There is an outdoor shower, but the water is only lukewarm providing more evidence that there is a plumbing issue with the hot water. We had an enormous, heated, crystal clear pool which was cleaned every day. There is also an outside table and chairs, two comfortable chaise lounges and a large bale. There is so much going on that the outside living area is packed very tightly. We were in villa 24 which has an ocean view. It is not high up, but there is a large open area with trees between the villa and the water which gives the villa a pastoral setting. The air conditioning in the villa is very effective and cools down the living and bedroom area quickly. However, the dressing area and bathroom are much warmer and that may be problematic in the Summer months. All of the materials and finishes are of superb quality. My only complaint would be with back doors. They are gorgeous, huge folding doors covered by enormous shutters. Opening and closing them was an overly complicated process made worse by the fact the back doors have no outside handles! When you were outside enjoying the pool, you had to push on the back doors and hope they would pop open. My only complaint is the living and bedroom area of the villa is very dark.
The food is quite good although the Turkish food was challenging for my unsophisticated American palate. There are four dining pavilions and each have an additional outdoor area. They are all connected by a challenging labyrinth of paths. There is no central host/hostess station where you can go to be seated. This may result in you having to wander around until you are spotted by an employee who can then seat you and tend to your dining requests. It is a bit awkward and disorganized. It was no problem for us as the resort was nearly empty.
The management staff is among the best we have ever encountered. Upon our arrival, we were greeted and given a tour by the very charming and competent General Manager, Mr. Gabriel Lousada. The Food and Bevrage manager, Boris, was one of the finest managers at any resort where we have stayed. The other management staff and front office staff were very friendly, helpful and competent. Every request we made was granted quickly and cheerfully. The support staff was always polite and competent but not warm and friendly. As I have said in previous postings, I prefer a more engaged and warm level of service, but many guests would be content with polite and competent. This may be because many of the staff are new and don’t have a strong command of English. I sensed a certain level of tentativeness and shyness among a good number of the staff. My guess is this will change as they gain more experience. Housekeeping was phenomenal. The cleaning and turndown service would always be performed while we were eating breakfast and dinner. One afternoon when we went to the beach club, housekeeping came in the villa to tidy it up and provide clean towels. As a whole, the service level was superb and definitely a notch or two higher than we experienced at Amangiri last year.
I would highly recommend going on a few excursions. We had a good time in Bodrum at the famed castle. My advice would be to go early and avoid the heat and crowds. We were supposed to be met by a tour guide who would pay for our admission as well. However, that did not happen and we were happy to take our own tour. When the resort realized this mistake, they quickly dispatched a car and a frantic staff member to meet us at the castle and provide a tour. When we told them that was unnecessary, they swept us back to the resort with a sincere apology. The trip to the ruins at Ephises was very worthwhile. Our guide was very knowledgeable, friendly and enthusiastic. Afterwards, we stopped at a shop where Turkish rugs were made and sold. We were shown the very interesting and intricate process and then whisked away to a large showroom where a salesman and a burly assistant proceeded to throw rug after run on the show in an attempt to make a sale. It was quite the show, and we appreciated the skill and craftsmanship that went into the rugs. Nonetheless, the prices were well beyond our limited means and even the hard driving and entertaining bargaining salesman was unable to close the deal. Be warned that the drive is a long one and over bumpy roads. On the way back, the road was being dynamited which resulted in a very long detour through the somewhat primitive Turkish countryside. It was very interesting and beautiful but a bit rustic for us. We went horseback riding at a family owned farm a few miles from the resort. The owner was a nice gentleman with good English who guided us up into the hills through a quaint village. When we reached the destination, the view was spectacular of the mountains and the ocean. In true Aman style, we were met at the top of the mountain by a smiling Aman staff member in a white uniform. He had prepared a table in a clearing and served us a full breakfast! It was a memorable experience. However, the most amazing experience was the boat ride. We left the resort at 3:30 and we cruised around the ocean on a luxury boat with a very gracious captain and first mate. We were served a wonderful lunch and drinks. That night, we were treated to a spectacular sunset. This excursion is not to be missed!
Unfortunately, there are two issues which I have alluded to. Most of the resort is swarming with large gnats. They do not bite or sting, but they are pervasive and persistent. And for some reason, they are unaffected by mosquito coils and insect repellent! They did not bother us in our villa pool and to a lesser extent in the indoor dining areas. However, we were unable to sit outside without swarms of these “crazy bugs” as several staff members referred to them. This may be a temporary infestation, but if it is not, the resort MUST become much more aggressive and proactive in combating these bugs. I appreciate the fact that they do not want to resort to using harsh chemicals, but they are a terrible nuisance. Granted, we have a very low tolerance for bugs.
The other issue is the lack of a real spa. We knew in advance that a spa would not be completed for quite some time. There is one spa pavilion with two rooms. In one room, there are two temporary massage beds. We like to be pampered at the spa and enjoy the whole spa experience. What we got was the most utilitarian and underwhelming spa experience of any resort where we have stayed. As soon as you enter the spa pavilion, you are escorted in the treatment room. Three spa members stood there and looked at us and said nothing. It was such an awkward and unprofessional moment that we had to ask them to please excuse us and leave the room so we could take off our clothes and get onto the treatment tables. To be fair, I had three treatments and two of them were actually quite good. But after the treatment, you are given a cup of tea and summarily dismissed. It runs so counter to what is known as the “Aman Experience” and is much more indicative of getting a rubdown at your local YMCA. Aman could make the temporary spa pavilion much more intimate and special.
So, if you are bothered by bugs and want to be pampered at an amazing spa, do not go to Amanruya until these issues are addressed. If you don’t care about either, my advice is to go now without hesitation.
Obviously, Amanruya does so many things amazingly well. Except for the aforementioned issues, all of the elements are in place for it to become one of the world’s foremost resorts. Amanruya is a peaceful oasis with superb service, stunning architecture, world class amenities and accommodations and a gorgeous setting. You will be blown away by its beauty. I took over 350 pictures which is a clear indication that this resort is an unforgettable destination.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Amanruya lies in a quiet valley on Turkey's Bodrum Peninsula facing the Aegean Sea and bordered by a forest reserve. The surrounding native pines, aged olive trees and ocean vista contribute to the tranquil setting of this all-season resort. Comprising terraced buildings interspersed with courtyards inspired by traditional local architecture, Amanruya's proximity to the seaport city of Bodrum and ancient cities make it an ideal base for exploring the region's historic treasures as well as enjoying its natural beauty. ... more less
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