Four Seasons Marrakech
The lowdown When you stay at the recently opened Four Seasons Marrakech, you feel very spoilt indeed. From the minute you touch down at the airport and are ushered to a private refreshment suite - while your passport control is sorted for you - it’s clear that only the best will do for Four Seasons’ guests. Following a short chauffeured drive to the hotel, the cooing with delight continues, as you pull through the hotel gates and catch sight of its blush-hued villas and palm-lined fountain-filled gardens. Prepare to do a lot more cooing over the course of your stay here - this is the kind of place that prides itself on the small, personal touches. Think iced towelettes and bottled water at every turn, and freshly baked macaroons in your room every evening: very VIP and disturbingly easy to get used to.
The rooms The rooms and suites are situated in the main building and dotted throughout the gardens (with golf buggies on hand to transport you around, natch). The décor is modern luxe with a Moroccan twist: neutral colours, exotic tiling and those infamously inviting Four Seasons’ beds. The all-marble bathrooms are huge and seriously impressive, with glass-walled rain showers and deep sunken baths. All the usual mod-cons (DVD player, LCD TV and iPod docks) will make you feel right at home, while the daily delivery of an exotic fruit platter and deliciously sticky baklava remind you that you couldn’t actually be further from home. Every room has a spacious private balcony with stunning views of the grounds or the Atlas mountains - the perfect place to sit and watch the sun set while enjoying those sweet treats.
Wining and dining Breakfast is served in the Solano restaurant where giant juicy dates, granola and fresh fruit sit alongside Moroccan pastries, pancakes and croissants to rival those of a Parisian bakery. A must-try is the Eggs Tagine, a tastier way to start your day than anything you’ll get this side of the Atlas mountains. At lunchtime get out of the heat and into the cool sanctuary of the Inara Lounge, where you can snack on salmon and seabass sashimi or a classic club sandwich. Alternatively, if you can’t bear to move more than a few feet from your sunbed, the casual Azzera Grill is poolside and alfresco, and serves up a mean light lunch of salad nicoise with swordfish tempura. In the evening Solano transforms into an elegant fusion restaurant, where exquisite Italian classics such as osso bucco with saffron risotto are served alongside North African specialities (serious compliments to the chef on the melt-off-the-bone lamb shank ‘Tangia’). My advice? If you aren’t too intoxicated from trying out the extensive wine list, finish off with a nightcap in the chic rooftop Zest bar.
What to do You can’t go to Marrakech without a visit to the ancient-walled Medina, the old town and ‘real’ Marrakech, if you will. The vibrant colours, smells and hustle and bustle make for a fascinating shopping trip and the hotel will happily organise a guided tour - essential for helping you haggle in the Souks and for making sure you don’t get lost in the maze-like streets. The Majorelle Gardens are another must-visit, even for those who aren’t botanically inclined - simply stunning to walk through and something of a fashion mecca, having been owned by Yves Saint Laurent and the resting place of the late designer’s ashes.
If you want to stay within the serene confines of the hotel, but are worried about all the gastronomical self-indulgence showing on your thighs, then alleviate your concerns by hitting the resort’s fantastic gym or thrashing the calories out on one of its two clay tennis courts. Conversely if you can’t bear to do anything remotely energetic, there are two stunning pools to lie by: one is family friendly, the other is adults only. Forget any preconceived notions of sunbathing in upwards of 35 degree heat being an unpleasant experience: here you’ll be tended to impeccably by the pool-boys, who’ll lay your sunbed with cold fresh towels and who’ll bring you endless skewers of frozen melon and shots of fruit smoothie. For even more luxury, opt for one of the private, full-service cabanas, where you can lounge on oversized day beds while enjoying wireless internet connection and magazines. Alternatively, for the ultimate in relaxation and pampering, head to Le Spa for their signature Massage De Marrakech - 60 divine minutes of combined Middle Eastern and Western massage technique.
Finally, if you do nothing during your stay at the Four Seasons Marrakech you simply MUST let the hotel organise you a sunset dinner in the desert. Following an hour-long Jeep ride you’ll arrive in the secluded desert, where you’ll watch the sun set while sipping wine and nibbling canapés. Once it’s dark you’ll be led down a red, lantern-lit carpet to a luxury private tent - complete with dining area and lounge - where you’ll be treated to a sumptuous three-course dinner cooked especially for you by the Four Seasons’ chefs. It’s sure to be one of the most memorable nights you’ll ever experience.
The details Four Seasons Marrakech, 1 Boulevard de la Menara, Marrakech 40000, Morocco; tel 00 212 524 359 200. Rooms start at 370 euros, based on a double occupancy bed & breakfast basis in low season. Visit fourseasons.com/marrakech/ for more details. British Airways offer three nights at the 5* Four Seasons Marrakech from £699 per person, for Thursday departures in January, based on two people sharing. Includes return flights from Gatwick and accommodation with breakfast. Visit ba.com/marrakech or call 0844 4930758.
By Sarah Statman