by Angela Fairhurst
The red city welcomed a new luxury experience with the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech with the debut offering of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in Africa. Set amid lush, lavish gardens, a spectacular entrance avenue lined with palm trees set in small mounds of sand reflecting the traditional Moroccan palm groves and the dunes of the South Moroccan desert welcomes guests.
The modern, elegant property is set outside the hubbub of the city center, nestled in the heart of 20 hectares of olive groves and gardens which are surrounded by a walkway that allows guests to fully appreciate their charms. Scattered among the palm trees, pink bougainvillea are cut into Japanese shapes in a nod to the owner group’s Asian origins. The resort is made up of 54 private villas and 9 suites which celebrate their rich Moroccan heritage through subtle Berber references and Andalusian-Arabic influences.
The design of Mandarin Oriental was undertaken by the French duo of Patrick Gilles and Dorothée Boissier. Interior and exterior spaces co-exist in a feel of relaxed luxury for the cosmopolitan traveler, with a focus on essential materials rather than pretense, and a particular emphasis placed on light. Morocco’s cultural diversity has been fused with Eastern and Western touches to give a sensation of traveling around the world as one moves through the main building.
Each villa is built like a Riad in the Moroccan style, combining comfort and space in total privacy. All the villas are surrounded by their own a private pool. An outdoor kitchen allows the restaurant team to cook on site at guests’ request. The timeless feel of the interior decor is a tribute to the fascinating culture and Berber traditions captured in traditional tadelakt motifs, mouth-blown vases and handwoven wool rugs. Oriented to well-being, the villas have massive yet elegant marble bathrooms, featuring specially developed products by local paraben-free brand Nectarome.
Overlooking the resort, the nine suites have scenic views of the Atlas Mountains in the distance and immerse guests in the heart of the local landscape with spectacular views over the gardens.
There are more than 100,000 roses of 30 different varieties in the garden, and each villa reflects one of their unique colors. The gardens are home to orange trees, almond trees and many fragrant plants such as jasmine, rose geranium and night-blooming cestrum. At nightfall, countless candles and lanterns illuminate the property, with the gardens scents ever present. The centuries-old olive trees yield the property’s own oil which is incorporated into traditional rituals at The Spa. Cactus and prickly pear, traditionally used as natural fences in mountain villages, also dot the area, and their fruits can be enjoyed in ice cream in the restaurant. The vegetable garden supplies the kitchens of the hotel; organic practices are encouraged – the compost is natural and no fertilizers are used.
The Spa at Mandarin Oriental is a tribute to the ancient mosques and cathedrals of Andalusia, constructed from the signature, ubiquitous red bricks of Marrakech, making for a mystical architecture where light plays around the bronzed glass blocks of the massage cabins, moucharabieh screens, and fan vaults. The architecture of the spa encourages spiritual contemplation and deployment of the senses. The renowned signature treatments that have made the group’s international reputation are here with added treatments inspired by Moroccan traditions.
The 18-meter long Infinity Pool Suite adjacent to the Spa, promises a rejuvenating experience for body and mind. The outdoor areas are an invitation to relax and unwind either in the warmth of the sun or in a shady alcove filled with traditionally designed cushions from Marrakech homewares label Moon Garden.
A new dining experience comes through four restaurants and bars. There’s nothing about this hotel that falls short down to the signature orange Mandarin Oriental touches!