Whether in water or on land, AMANEMU hotel in Ise-Shima National Park is a wonder. Set above renowned Ago Bay, home to the world’s best cultured pearls, the hotel is dotted with hot springs within a forest for an utterly natural escape. Inspired by the ryokan tradition, the minimalist rooms utilise local materials in harmony with nature, including deep soaking tubs with taps for cold, hot or mineral hot-springs water. The restaurant draws from the surroundings, offer izakaya-style fresh seafood, prized Wagyu beef and local herbs and vegetables, for a reminder that Amanemu is surrounded by the best of Japan.
The favourite rooms
Rooms at Amanemu are all thoughtfully planned to maximise views and privacy, with bare wood and large windows. Of the suites, Nagi Suite has the best uninterrupted panorama of Ago Bay.
Overlooking the forests and Ago Bay, the heated outdoor 33-metre swimming pool is ringed with sun loungers for tranquil relaxation. Children are only permitted with adult supervision.
Surrounded by gardens, the water-inspired Aman Spa offers 2,000 square metres of relaxation, including two private pavilions, a watsu pool and four treatment suites. Designed around a large hot spring, the spa incorporates mineral water in its treatments and salts from Ago Bay. Treatments include signature massages and facials, body scrubs, hot-stone therapies and reiki.
Nagoya Chubu International Airport is the closest hub, 180km from the hotel (a three-hour drive or 25-minute helicopter ride). The airport offers domestic flights from Tokyo and other cities in Japan, as well as limited international routes, including Frankfurt, Detroit and Dubai. Transfers are available for 73,000 yen (about £550).
Trains are a fast and convenient way to travel around Japan, and the Kashikojima Station is a 20-minute drive from the hotel. Transfers are available at no charge for guests.
The hotel is accessible by car, and free valet parking is available for guests.
Worth getting out of bed for
Set in the beautiful Ise-Shima National Park, a sanctuary of hot springs, Amanemu has plenty to dazzle visitors on its own grounds. The hotel was designed to maximise views of Ago Bay and the surrounding forests, whether during yoga in the glass-walled studio or around an outdoor fireplace on a sunken terrace.
The Aman Spa is worth a trip all its own, with private hot-springs pavilions and water-inspired therapies to soothe weary muscles after a long day of travel or hiking.
The hotel is blissfully secluded, so beyond visits to the bay and surrounding hot springs, most activities require some travel. A 50-minute drive from the hotel, Ise Jingu is a Shinto shrine dedicated to Japan's sun goddess. One of Shinto's most holy sites, the shrine has existed in some form since 4 BC. Though tourist access is limited, the hotel can arrange for a guide during a prayer session and ritual dance to the deities.
Though a 3.5-hour drive from the hotel, Kumano Kodo is worth the travel. A network of pilgrimage routes, the Kumano Kodo is a Unesco-recognized collection of mountain and coastal trails.
Japan is legendary for its sashimi, and the waters near Amanemu have some of the best fish to prepare. Amanemu can arrange for fishing trips with expert anglers from shore or by boat. The hotel chefs can then prepare the catch.
The nearest restaurants are in Shima Mie, a 15-minute drive from the hotel. Tecchan (3460 Agocho Ugata) is a classic izakaya with tempura, whole fish and sushi. Down the same road, Torinoya serves yakitori skewers.