Luang Prabang, Laos
An Elegant Colonial Sanctuary
When the French became the protectorate of Laos in 1893, they were not only creating a history but also a legacy in architecture and design. The combination of French-colonial and traditional Lao architectures becomes synonymous with the style of buildings during that period, featuring hipped roof and large overhanging eaves covered a sizeable porch often wrapped around the building called the gallery. Amantaka in Luang Prabang, Laos is one of the best architectural gems of French-colonial heritage.
Amantaka that means the peaceful teaching of the Buddha (in Theravada literature) is set at a former provincial hospital in an elegant French-Colonial building. Although no documents have been found regarding the original construction, it has been estimated that this building was completed during the first decade of the 20th century. It was running as a hospital until 2005 before it was turned into an Aman collection with its 15 buildings, nine of which are protected under UNESCO’s World Heritage regulation.
The restoration of this heritage building into the most luxurious 24-suite property in the country was meticulously done by renowned architect Pascal Trahan and Aman’s interior design team led by Adrian Zecha, the founder of the Aman resorts. Together, they made these existing areas a new role and life before commencing the operations in September 2009. The stunning colonial-style lobby beneath a low-slung red-tiled roof and surrounded by shady verandas, for example, was the former X-ray room. Beyond the gleaming white exterior and the stunning pool area flanked by fragrant magnolia trees lies the suites with louvered doors, airy living and sleeping areas. The four-poster bed is positioned in the centre of the suite beneath a traditional high-ceiling surrounded by black and white photos depicting the life Buddha, and rich cherry wood furniture by Mandalay – a furniture and interior group owned by Laos locals and husband and wife duo Elene and Gilles Boute.
I have been to many Aman properties in the world and Amantaka is simply one of a kind. It really has the core essence of Aman Resort from the philosophy, design, history, service to experience. This property reminds me why I am an Amanjunkie!