by Lisa Grimaldi | October 01, 2005

They might not be household names, but this discreet group of luxury hotel chains is well known to discriminating travelers. Whether they specialize in providing groups with urban oases or far-flung retreats, all are noted for their fine furnishings, superb dining, exquisite settings, elegant event space, unflappable service and attention to detail. 
    Following is an introduction to a half-dozen lesser-known, five-star-plus chains.

Amanresorts’ Amanjena.

Moroccan splendor:
Amanresorts’ Amanjena
reflects the exoticism
of Marrakesh.

The destinations alone take one’s breath away: Bhutan, Cambodia and Sri Lanka, to name a few. But this 17-year-old chain, which specializes in intimate resorts (the largest has 54 rooms), designs its exotically placed properties to exude the ambience of gracious private homes. Headed by Adrian Zecha, the Singapore-based firm owns and operates 20 resorts at present. All but two properties in the portfolio contain the word aman, Sanskrit for peace, in their names an apt moniker for a chain that exudes serenity as much as luxury.

Bhutan: Amankora, Gangtey; Amankora, Paro; Amankora, Punakha; and Amakora, Thimphu
Cambodia: Amansara, Siem Reap
France: Le Mélézin, Courchevel
French Polynesia (Tahiti): Hotel Bora Bora
India: Amanbagh and Aman-i-Khás, both in Rajasthan
Indonesia: Amankila, Amandari and Amanusa, all on Bali; Amanjiqo, Java; and Amanwana, Moyo Island
Morocco: Amanjena, Marrakesh
Philippines: Amanpulo, Pamalican Island
Sri Lanka: Amangalla, Galle; Amanwella, Tangalle
Thailand: Amanpuri, Phuket
United States: Amangara, Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Meetings: According to a spokesperson for the chain, the main meeting properties are Amanusa, Amandari, Amankila and Amanpuri; each features complimentary high-speed broadband Internet connections in all guest rooms and wireless connections in public areas, as will the entire Amanresort portfolio in the near future.
    All Amanresorts accommodate incentive groups, and most properties allow group buyouts; contact the sales office for more information.

Future plans: Next month, Amanyara will open in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. The chain also will expand its presence in Bhutan, with plans to open a total of six lodges in the country’s western valleys; in August, Amankora, Punakha, opened, followed by Amankora, Gangtey, which was scheduled to open last month, and Amankora, Thimphu, which will be ready for guests this month. Next year, another two Bhutan properties, Amankora, Bumthang, and Amankora, Trongsa, are set for completion.
    Also, at press time, the chain announced a second U.S. property, Amangiri, will open in 2007 near Lake Powell, Utah, and Amanresorts has put a bid on a property in Montenegro.

U.S. contact: Group and event sales office, Singapore, (011) 65-6883-2555;

The Oberoi Udaivilas in Udaipur, India

Fit for a raja:
The design of the
Oberoi Udaivilas
in Udaipur, India,
is based on a
former local palace.

Oberoi Hotels & Resorts
This upscale chain was founded by M.S. Oberoi in 1934; today, the Delhi, India-based company is under the leadership of his son, P.R.S. Oberoi, who serves as CEO. Among the jewels in the crown are the Oberoi Vanyavilas (India), a luxurious tented-camp resort near Ranthambore National Park and Tiger Reserve, and Wildflower Hall, the Himalayan residence of Lord Kitchener, commander in chief of the British Army in the late-19th-century colonial era.

Australia: The Windsor, Melbourne
Egypt: Mena House Oberoi, Cairo; The Oberoi, Sahl Hasheesh
India: The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra;  The Oberoi Bangalore; The Oberoi Cecil, Shimla; The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata (Calcutta); The Oberoi Mumbai; The Oberoi New Delhi; Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur; The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur; The Oberoi Vanyavilas, Ranthambore; and Wildflower Hall, Himalayas (near Shimla).
Indonesia: The Oberoi Bali and The Oberoi Lombok
Mauritius: The Oberoi Mauritius, Pointe aux Piments
Saudi Arabia: Madina Oberoi, Madina

Meetings: All Oberoi properties accommodate meetings and incentives. For specific information and an electronic request for proposal, check out the website (see below). Properties range in size from 25 to 330 rooms; group buyouts are available.

Future plans: The Oberoi Group is looking to expand into Cambodia, Dubai and Thailand, according to a spokesperson for the chain. The company has signed a management contract for a new property now under construction in Gurgaon, India.

U.S. contact: North American sales office, New York City, (212) 223-8800;