From the moment your sleek, slope-stern private water taxi glides away from the dock at Marco Polo Airport, the mythical skyline of Venezia—all peach and aqua and mauve and umber—draws nearer on the horizon through the mist. You can only think of heritage. It takes 40 minutes to compose yourself, as the luxury wood-panelled speedboat elegantly cuts across the lagoon, easing into the venerable canals, time enough to adjust your senses and marvel at the thousand years of splendour this city still presents to its guests. Venezia is first a story about heritage, and the newly opened Aman Canale Grande Venice continues the never-ending wonder as you step onto the private jetty at the spectacularly restored Palazzo Papadopoli, minutes away from Rialto, where the boat captain Alessandro extends an impeccable white-gloved hand to welcome you ashore. When did the adventure actually begin? Centuries ago.
Wherever Aman goes, the brand proceeds with a reverential awareness of history and place. This 24-suite property is no exception, a heightened hyper-Venetian experience, garlanded in authentic décor, opulence, comfort and exclusivity, dedicated to the optimum of hospitality. In details like comforts graciously offered upon arrival, the classic welcome drink of a Spritz (look on every Venetian tabletop: you shall not deny yourself!), or the discreet in-room check-in, the tenor of your stay is set. Preside from the balcony of the broad piano nobile as the parade of vaporetti churn by and you will feel at one with the Doge.
This same Doge would have no reluctance in choosing room 07, the signature Canal Grande Suite, with its unimpeded water view, separated seating area, terrazzo floor and corner orientation. Accented by the hotel’s signature white Amaryllis on display year-round in heroic vases everywhere, you will also find reminder of the Aman brand heritage in subtle details like the refined ceramic Balinese vessels which hold soaps, creams and potions in the spacious bath. This is a suite where legends are born. Room 14, one of the palazzo bedrooms with its incredible fireplace, allows a fanciful soak in a giant tub with Grand Canal view. Room 18’s huge bath was designed for the ultimate pampering. But don’t ask for room 17: Venetian superstition dictates that the unlucky numeral never be used!
Next to every bedside you will find a brown leather-bound copy of Venice for Pleasure by J. G. Links, a handy reference for inspiring and atypical sorties into the past. If you favour fast media, your in-room wall-mounted flat-screen television, which looks more like a Rothko or an Albers than modern technology, is a portal to the digital age. But don’t languish in your room like a character out of Thomas Mann. Palazzo Papadopoli is worthy of exploration unto itself. Unmistakable evidence of patronage of the arts survives: a number of ornate fireplaces populate the public rooms; the fourth floor “living room” with its historic piano has major fresco work by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo; in a small panelled room just adjacent, a 19th-century ceiling tableau, obviously doctored during the Jazz Age, shows a saucy cherub holding a martini glass, astride a lobster; the bar area, library and two extraordinary function rooms, Red and Yellow, provoke astounding reactions. Weather permitting, the Aman’s altana has north-facing views across rooftops to the lofty Dolomite Mountains. If you feel the evening chill, ask for the loan of a hooded Tyrolean cape, a perfectly authentic disguise for the setting, which the hotel happily provides.
Dining on-site, which is also available to outside guests, emphasizes local sourcing, with Italian classics, but also references Aman’s Asian heritage by including Thai flavours. A Japanese menu created by Okumura Naoki of Kyoto is available in the garden during the warmer months. The on-site spa, occupying three exclusive treatment rooms on the mezzanine level can customize world-class wellness experiences, and features its own spa products. With an average stay of three nights, the resort caters mainly to leisure travellers from the USA, UK and Europe.
Heritage is the keyword here: the history of a city, the story of a palace, the legacy of a brand, and the opportunity to create your own mythology anew. Aman Canale Grande Venice is perfect for remarkable events. Propose, honeymoon, celebrate, meet, convene. Or perhaps take over the entire property for that once-in-a-lifetime commemoration beyond comparison or reproach.
Steps away from the Aman gates, Rizzardini Premiata Pasticierria has dispensed authentic Italian coffee and pastry since 1742 in their tiny wood-paneled stand-up establishment. In winter months after wading through the 4-deep crowds you will be forced to choose between four varieties of fritelle, seasonal donut-like dollops dusted in white sugar, filled with cream, rum or chocolate. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
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