The 2010 It List
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Call it the post-riad revolution. After a few years of boutique hotel openings in Marrakesh's atmospheric medina, the heavyweight properties are arriving (or reviving) to provide more opulent alternatives. The buzz is loudest about La Mamounia, Marrakesh's storied grande dame hotel (pictured), where Winston Churchill and Mick Jagger once bedded down. It reopened in September after a cool $176-million, three-year revamp by interior designer Jacques Garcia (the dark genius behind Paris's Hôtel Costes and Monaco's Hôtel Metropole) and now includes a huge spa, three new restaurants, and four staffers for every room.
Next year will see one of Marrakesh's most ambitious projects, Royal Mansour Marrakech. Owned by the King of Morocco, it will consist of 53 individual riads (traditional Moroccan courtyard houses) built into the city's ancient walls, plus eight acres of gardens, a spa, and three restaurants under the helm of Yannick Alléno, the Michelin-starred chef of Paris's Le Meurice. And that's not all that luxury lovers have to look forward to in Marrakesh: A Mandarin Oriental will open in 2010 in the posh Palmeraie district, with gorgeous Atlas Mountain views and a kaleidoscopic design; Four Seasons is readying its resort, located near the Menara Gardens; and Anantara, Fairmont, Rocco Forte, and W are waiting in the wings.