Morocco does luxury very well. There are a handful of incredibly beautiful hotels in and around Marrakech, and I visited last month to check out the new kid on the block, Royal Palm Marrakech. Shiny and new following its spring 2014 soft opening, the five-star plus golf resort and villa hotel is a truly grand hotel in a spectacular location, nestled between the Atlas Mountains and the ancient Red City.
From the moment I touched down in Marrakech, my every need and want, and things I didn’t know I needed or wanted, were catered to. And I really mean from the moment I touched down. Our group were greeted straight off the plane and whisked to a private customs lounge to sip mint tea as our passports were checked. We were then escorted past the very long line of waiting passengers – who were throwing some murderous glares in our direction – out to collect our luggage. We pointed out our bags which were whisked away to our cars, while we scampered behind them. There was a lot of whisking.
We arrived at the hotel under cover of darkness, which only made the impressive entrance, with over-water walkways lit up with fire pits, all the more magnificent. I was shown to my room, a Palm Suite, for a quick freshen-up before dinner, and it took a lot of willpower to drag myself away once I laid eyes on what would be my home for the next few days.
It is hard to believe that the enormous, totally luxurious Palm Suites are only the second tier room. In many hotels they would qualify for the best in the house. Combining contemporary touches with Berber style, the 86 square metre room has a gorgeous en suite and gigantic walk-in robe and spacious terrace facing the Atlas Mountains.
After dinner that night I dove face-first into my veritable cloud of a bed, made up with about six different types of pillows, and didn’t emerge for ten hours. With the curtains drawn, the room is enveloped in complete darkness, but flinging them open to reveal the dazzling, intense Moroccan sunlight and the siren call of the pool in the distance was enough to lure me out of my hideaway.
In addition to the Palm Suites, there also Junior Suites (first tier room type), then Senior, Garden, and Luxury Family Suites. There are also Prince Villas, the Penthouse Suite and the Presidential Suite. We peeked into all of them, and while they kept getting bigger (obvs), I was impressed that as much care was put into designing the lower tier rooms, which are nothing short of luxurious, as the Presidential Suite, which is just ridiculously sublime.
One thing is certain: This is not the hotel where you need to worry about being put in a crappy room. They’re all heavenly.(images)
The main restaurant, Le Caravane, features an out-of-the-way walkway over water that leads to a handful of private dining alcoves for two. The romantic setting comes at no extra cost, and just needs to be pre-reserved. There is also al fresco dining and the Captain’s Table.
There are two other restaurants, the poolside L’Olivier – it’s light, fresh dishes perfect for lunch – and Al Ain, which was being completed when we visited and is now open for dining. Head chef Meryam Diane leads an all-female team serving Moroccan cuisine.(image)
Like the room, the hotel is mix of contemporary design influenced by Moroccan tradition. Most of the decor is handmade by local craftsmen, with carpets, tapestries and tiles inspired by Berber motifs.(image)
The perfectly manicured grounds are studded with over 4,000 olive trees, which produce the olive oil used by chefs in the hotel restaurants. In the winter, the entire resort is fragrant with the scent of the orange trees.
At night, all of the paths that lead from the suites and villas to the main hotel (and they are many) are lined with lanterns, every one hand lit. Fire pits roaring with light and heat welcome guests at the hotel and restaurant entrances and, with a few kilometres between the resort and Marrakech, the air is utterly silent and still except for the call of cicadas.
Leisure and Fitness
There are three pools in the grounds of the hotel. The main pool stretches the length of main building – a shallow, calm bath that meanders beneath bridges and around curves of the manicured gardens to create separate areas where you can sunbathe and swim in seclusion. The spa has an indoor pool, and the fitness centre has a heated outdoor one perfect for laps.
As well as the golf course (the only high-end hotel course in Marrakech), there is plenty to keep more active guests happy. The gym is state of the art (so I’m told – I didn’t manage to make it there myself… too much buffet to test out), though I did enjoy the pilates studio, and there are tennis and squash courts to boot.
Usually, I will go out of my way to avoid nearing the kids club at a hotel, but we were given a sneak (child-free) peek during a hotel tour, and my jaw actually dropped when I saw it.
The club is so cool and chic, I would happily model my own home after it. House of Hackney-style palm wallpaper in one room, Tataouine details and ombre turquoise walls in the next. The play area is strewn with life-size sheep (which of course we all climbed on to, to snap a picture – total professional grown ups), with traditional costume for dressing up, arts and crafts, mini tennis courts, stargazing telescopes, and a kiddie pool.
Having just opened its doors in the weeks beforehand, The Spa by Clarins was the primary reason Royal Palm Marrakech invited me to visit. It’s so wonderful, it needs its own dedicated post, so check back tomorrow to hear all about it.
Want more? You can read my other posts from Morocco here.
I visited Royal Palm Marrakech as a guest of Beachcomber. My opinions are my own.