Continuing my look at what destinations are hot for 2013. Today, it’s MOROCCO.
Since the hippies discovered it in the 1960s, Morocco has long been a hip destination. It’s currently riding a new wave of popularity with young urban travellers lured in by the abundance of cool openings.
Mosaic Palais Aziza & Spa (mosaicpalaisaziza.com) in Marrakech, is one such example. The 28-room luxury hotel opened a few months ago in the Palmerie area of the city. With its five acres of magical gardens, a pool awash with roses, its own spa with hammam and Italian restaurant, it is a true oasis. The gem features Moorish-designed rooms, rain showers and private courtyards. It also offers local products by the excellent Les Sens de Marrakech. Stunning.
Adding a glitzy appeal to the city, and sure to appeal to a Miami-loving crowd, is the just-opened Delano Marrakech (delanomarrakech.com), designed by lauded interiors guru Jacques Garcia. It’s an all singing and dancing homage to glam. Exotic interiors feature marble, traditional lighting and rich velvets with a jaw-dropping lobby (think soaring white columns and a hand-carved wood ceiling). Guests can order room service on their in-room iPads and kick back in the sky lounge with panoramic views over the city, not to mention some retail therapy in the curated selection of boutiques.
Jacques Garcia has also a hand in designing Marrakech’s other sophisticated new opening, The Selman (Selman-marrakech.com), which came to life last summer to great acclaim. It’s owned by a local family, whose collection of priceless Arab show horses are stabled on site, and were the inspiration for the hotel’s concept. The project was four years in the making with no expense spared throughout.
Using elite artisans, the overall effect is dramatic and palatial with ornate tiling on pillars and floors, suede walls and studded furniture. Aside from the two restaurants and immense pool, the spa by Henri Chenot will no doubt have the starring role here, with signature Bio-Lite treatments on offer. New for 2013 will be a riding programme for guests and a Moroccan restaurant with an intimate table for two snuck away in its own tower.
While The Selman’s spa will have the pulling power in Marrakech, it’s nonetheless in for stiff competition with the new SkySpa at the classic hotel Es Saadi Palace (essaadi.com). The 1,000sq m roof terrace has been built around a 100-year-old eucalyptus tree and offers mountain views as you indulge in a range of outside treatments.
Spa devotees may also want to venture to Agadir to sample the thalassotherapy institute at the new Sofitel Agadir Thalassa Sea and Spa (Sofitel.com). The hotel has chic, peaceful rooms devised by French interior designer Didier Rey. Thalassotherapy treatments are carried out in beach or garden booths and are complemented by local products, such as Argan oil, Barbary fig, orange blossom water, rosewater, and honey.
Tweaks are afoot at L’Amphitrite Palace, located on Morocco’s northern coastline, 50 minutes from Casablanca (lamphitrite-palace.com). The property boasts the only private beach on Morocco’s coastline and has just finished a complete revamp.
Meanwhile, in the fortified UNESCO heritage city of El Jadida, on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, is a truly unique offering. Converted from a 16th century Spanish church is L’Iglesia (boutiquesouk.com), a boutique hotel decorated in an eclectic 1940s and 1950s style.
Opulent hotel brand Taj Hotels is also getting in on the action, with the new Taj Palace Marrakech (tajhotels.com), due to open this month. Think majestic rooms, inspired by the Ottoman Empire, a Jiva Grande Spa offering Ayurveda treatments and Moroccan and Asian restaurants.
And that’s not all. Over the next two years, Morocco will see the arrival of ventures by Baglioni, Mondrian, Mandarin Oriental and Banyan Tree. As we said, it’s popular.