Mandarin Oriental, Marrakech, Morocco
The Mandarin’s debut African resort is as subtle and stylish as you’d expect from one of the world’s leading luxury hoteliers. Its 54 villas, nine suites, three restaurants and world-class spa are set outside the medina in a gorgeous, two-hectare garden of blooming roses.
This luxury oasis is located a 20-minute drive southeast of the Djemaa el-Fna. A complimentary shuttle ferries guests into the medina when required.
Style & character
Unlike the recent trend of ever more ostentation in Marrakech’s five star hotels, the Mandarin’s luxury doesn’t shout, it whispers. The 54, single-storey villas and central hub nestle unobtrusively in a fully mature garden that undulates like a dunefield and is planted loosely with feathery grasses and punctuated by centuries-old olive trees. Inside there is a similarly strong, but subtle sense of place. Material texture, symmetry and visual drama combine the geometric influences from Berber arts and crafts with an Arabo-Andalusian sense of scale and symmetry.
Service & facilities
Some 220 staff members support an exceptional array of facilities including three restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, access to two golf courses, cooking classes and a range of customised tours and activities. The 19,0003 sq ft spa deserves its own review with its cathedral-like brickwork interiors, male and female hammams, six spa suites, a jade-coloured pool, yoga studio and fitness centre. Personal training, bike rides, jogging excursions and nutritional programmes are all part of the package.
Bar Fitness centre Golf course Kids’ club Laundry Pool Restaurant Room service Sauna Spa Steam room/hammam Wi-Fi
In total there are 54 villas, seven first-floor suites and two spa suites. All of them have private pools and acres of space. The signature villas (either 3,000 or 4,500 sq ft) are designed as mini riads around enclosed courtyards each with an infinity pool in black zellij tiling. Four-poster loungers, sofa seating, a fireplace, dining area and a fully equipped kitchen make the outdoor space as utile as the interiors.
The latter are furnished in MO’s signature palette of cream and mahogany and carry throughout Berber motifs in the handwoven rugs, textured tadelakt and latticework screens modelled on moucharabieh. And it isn’t just the glossy high finish or the retractable TV at the base of the bed that impress; smaller details such as the automated shutter system, a shoe cleaning kit and an extravagantly stocked mini-bar reveal a care for client comfort that often gets lost in the hoopla.
Food & drink
Breakfast is a buffet in the Salon Berbère overlooking large mirror-like pools that seem to draw the sky earthwards and soak the skirts of pretty weeping willows. Hopscotch your way across the water to the Pool Garden where you can graze on organic, vegetarian lunches. Fine-dining dinners come courtesy of Bocuse-trained chef, Meryem Cherkaoui, who’s blazed a trail with her modern Moroccan cuisine all the way from the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris.
Value for money
Double rooms from £750 in low season; rising to £1,750 in high. Breakfast and airport transfers included. Free Wi-Fi.
Access for guests with disabilities?
Children are fully catered-for with menus, the full range of equipment and babysitting services. Dozens of traditional and electronic games are also on hand. In 2016 a full Kids Club is planned.