My latest visit was back in March and coincided with the Arts Biennale, a major trilingual (English, Arabic and French) festival focusing on cutting-edge contemporary art, literature and film. Thanks to Vanessa Branson, the event has now become extremely popular and attracts artists from all over the world. It should not be missed!
A number of new hotels have also opened recently in and around Marrakech. The Selman, for example, a uber luxury Jacques Garcia creation on the outskirts of town with a sprawling Henri Chenot Spa and a stable of Arabian horses whose accommodation, complete with equine solarium and shower, is almost as comfortable as the hotel itself! I highly recommend treating yourself to afternoon tea or an aperitif on the terrace overlooking the paddock, where the owner, Abdeslam, proudly displays his magnificent horses.
The Royal Palm was equally impressive. A little further afield but beautifully located in the shadow of the High Atlas, this latest addition to Beachcomber’s hotel portfolio has a country club feel to it, with a range of suites in the main building and villas lining the fairways of a truly spectacular 18-hole golf course. The Royal Palm’s facilities are equally spectacular with a gorgeous Spa, huge swimming pool and a very well equipped Kids’ Club - much welcome in a city where it can be a struggle to find a child friendly hotel.
Another property that really caught my eye for its eclectic style was the Hotel Fellah on the Route de L’Ourika that heads south from Marrakech towards the mountains. This creative and cool boutique retreat has 68 rooms divided across ten separate villas (some with private pools), a library with 10,000 French, Arabic and English books, and an art centre that hosts various kids programs to keep parents free for spa and pool time. The hotel also has a great restaurant, and the Sunday brunch buffet is incredible! I am planning another trip in September, not to Marrakech this time but to Dakhla, a small town located on a narrow Atlantic Ocean peninsula in the Western Sahara and literally miles from anywhere.
There are two small hotels, Ocean Vagabond, which both offer simple but comfortable accommodation, great food and a very friendly ambience, but Dakhla is really all about water sports. The peninsula has created a huge lagoon that is fast developing a reputation as a wind and kite surfing paradise. I don’t intend to try either, but I will enjoy watching others do so while basking in the warm Saharan sun! Further information will follow, so watch this space…
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