Amanpuri, which means “place of peace” in Sanskrit, according to the resort, opened in Phuket in 1988. Over the coming decades, Mr. Zecha created Amans throughout the world, typically working with Mr. Tuttle or two other architects: Jean-Michel Gathy and Kerry Hill. The focus was on building luxurious, typically minimalist, resorts that flowed seamlessly into the spectacular surrounding landscapes.
Billionaires and celebrities, including Bill Gates and Prince, flocked to the resorts, partly because discretion was a core part of the brand. Service was also reliably exceptional. Each guest would get one or two staff members assigned entirely to them, said Miguel Guedes De Sousa, the general manager of the Amanjena in Morocco and the Amanpulo in the Philippines from 2003 to 2013. “During their stay they’d have no days off and work as many hours as possible so that they could be totally focused on that client,” he said.
The extreme pampering persists to this day. Lauren Trenkle, 37, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., and her husband have been celebrating their now 6-year-old daughter’s birthday at the Amangiri in Utah since she turned 3. During that first visit, the staff learned that the toddler liked unicorns, so they dressed up a horse as a unicorn. When the family returned to their room, they found a framed photo of the girl’s mythical encounter.
“She thinks it’s the only place we get to see unicorns,” Ms. Trenkle said of the annual tradition.
By 2013, Mr. Zecha no longer owned the company. When an Indian real estate company decided to sell it, Omar Amanat, an American movie producer and entrepreneur, approached him about trying to buy it back. They teamed up with Mr. Doronin, who had been staying at Aman properties since the ’90s.
Mr. Guedes De Sousa remembers organizing a birthday dinner in a romantically lit tent for Mr. Doronin and his then partner, Naomi Campbell, in Marrakesh, back when they were just another Aman power couple. Compared to King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who sometimes bought out the Marrakesh hotel, or the man who requested 20,000 candles and fresh lobsters in the middle of the desert, they were low key, he said.
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