BY EMMANUELLE MOZAYAN-VERSCHAEVE WITH THE COLLABORATION OF MANON LEMIRE
LOCATED IN THE HEART OF MARRAKESH, THE ENCHANTING MAMOUNIA OFFERS ALL THE SPLENDOURS BEFITTING OF A KINGDOM.
In the 12th century, a palace stood in the middle of an oasis, protected by the fortifications of Marrakesh. Six centuries later, the magnificent gardens were presented to Prince Al Mamoun as a wedding gift from his father. And, in 1923, the enchanted spot was transformed into a hotel, named La Mamounia, in honour of its prince.
An extraordinary experience awaits anyone who passes through the doors of this century-old luxury establishment, built in a style that is part Art Deco, part Moorish. It is a storied environment, marked by an array of legendary characters. The visual impact is breathtaking, featuring bold contrasting colours for which Morocco is known. Orange, green and Majorelle blue light up the zellige mosaic tiles, highlight the arabesques, and are enhanced by the play of shadow and light. Fountains and pools abound, providing a soothing soundscape, while the singular blending of interior and exterior spaces creates a peaceful, welcoming atmosphere, the whole surrounded by magical gardens.
A FEAST FOR THE SENSES
Hundred-year-old olive trees, Barbary fig trees dripping with succulent fruit, blossom-laden bougainvillea, palms and cacti are among the 1,200 different species of plants perfuming the air. The original oasis has been transformed into eight hectares of fabulous gardens, a tribute to human creativity and skill.
Gardeners, sculptors of wood and marble, coppersmiths, tadelakt plaster specialists and other talented artisans have decorated La Mamounia like a precious jewel, creating works of art indoors and outdoors. The property is a veritable treasure chest, and serves as the perfect backdrop for paintings and photographs depicting the Morocco of yesterday and today. In fact, temporary exhibitions are organized regularly to display contemporary works, and promote the country’s arts and culture.
Guests have a variety of options when it comes to accommodations, from spacious, stunningly decorated rooms, to traditional Moroccan Riads, which are separate buildings featuring an interior courtyard with a pool. La Mamounia’s Signature suites have hosted a legion of world-famous celebrities. The Baldaquin, for example, was a romantic getaway for French film stars Alain Delon and Romy Schneider, while the Churchill is a tribute to the British Prime Minister himself. His presence is made palpable by a bronze likeness, and a classic portrait of him smoking a cigar, which figure prominently in the English-and Moroccan-themed suite. Another suite pays tribute to painter, Jacques Majorelle, who gave his name to the unique shade of blue found throughout the hotel.
DINING AND OTHER DELIGHTS
Stay at La Mamounia, and you’ll find yourself sipping tea in the garden, transported by the heady scent of jasmine, or enjoying a cocktail in the mellow Churchill bar, or dining in one of the hotel’s three restaurants. The first is classic Moroccan, complete with belly dancers. The second features French cuisine, and the third serves absolutely outstanding Italian fare.
No Mamounia experience is complete without a visit to the spa, where your surroundings will enhance your sensual journey in this land of a Thousand and One Nights.