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September 07, 2009

Marrakech On My Mind

Beautiful hand-painted doors, just part of designer Jacques Garcia's vision for La Mamounia in Marrakech.
Photo: Alan Keohane

by Ondine Cohane

Morocco is a big gap in my travel education. Somehow I just haven't had the chance to get there. The hotel scene in Marrakech is one of the most exciting in the world, with a mix of small riad properties converted into boutique hotels and bigger--but still stylish--resorts. Here are some hotels opening in Morocco this fall that you should keep on your radar: 

* Few hotels have as storied histories as Marrakech's La Mamounia. It seems that almost every celeb who comes to town has bedded down there--Winston Churchill and Mick Jagger are just two who come to mind. But the property had started to feel a bit run down, so the grand dame has undergone a multi-million dollar face lift. New additions include three restaurants, a 27,000 square foot spa, and glam interiors by Jacques Garcia, who designed Paris's chic Hotel Costes and the Metropole in Monte Carlo. I am betting that this will be one of the hottest hotel openings of the fall and winter season. Doors are set to open at the end of this month.

* Royal Mansour Marrakech, owned by the King of Morocco, sounds like it will be indeed palatial with 53 individual riads (ranging in size from 1,400 square feet to over 21,000!) set into the ancient wall of the city and covering eight acres of landscaped gardens. The property includes a huge spa with an indoor pool and three restaurants under the helm of Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno. The project is part of the King's "Vision 2010" initiative to promote tourism and jobs in the hospitality sector. When it opens in November, riad prices will range from ¬1,500-¬20,000 per night.

* Later in the year, a new 161-room Mandarin Oriental is opening in the residential area of Palmeraie, about 20 minutes away from the center of town. I saw a few early photos yesterday and it looks gorgeous, with beautiful views of the Atlas mountains and ornate interiors--I call dibs on the blue room! And, of course, the Mandarin Oriental spas are always excellent so I would definitely book a few treatments.

Do you already have a favorite Marrakech hideaway? Let me know your tips.

Further reading:
*"Morocco to the Max" (CNT, June 2006)
* Word of Mouth: The buzz worldwide


Hi there!have a look at "the coolest riad in Marrakech" with a great location five minutes-walk from the big square&wifi&jacuzzi on the terrace&ac&lovely team and a great gastronomy.

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The editors at Conde Nast Traveler answer questions and share travel secrets, tips, and dispatches

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