If it looks like a movie set, that is because it is. Mamounia has played background to such classics as Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much and Morocco with Marlene Dietrich. And the stars continue to haunt the mosaic-tiled halls: Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Orlando Bloom and Salma Hayek are recent sightings.
But Mamounia’s history is much deeper than the fleeting flash of stardom. The circa-1923 hotel in the middle of Marrakech has seen its share of presidents as well: Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt retreated there following a strategic summit during WWII. Today, following a three-year $180 million makeover La Mamounia is again in the spotlight, having opened its intricately carved doors last fall to reveal new interiors of Art Deco and Arabesque by famed French designer Jacques Garcia.
The property is surrounded by sprawling gardens more than two centuries old. And while the curious can admire the hotel from these vantages, they cannot glimpse the cavernous marble corridors or antique-laden lobby unless they book a reservation – for dinner or the night in one of the hotel’s 136 rooms or 71 suites.
Once in, the 27,000-square-foot spa should be sought, if only for a gaze upon the indoor pool surrounded by white couches and golden columns. The hamam lies just below where guests purify from the inside out on heated marble platforms surrounded by mesmerizing plays of ancient zellij design while doting attendants scrub the body until any memory of dirt disappears.
La Mamounia has come up with three exclusive “Unique Experiences” celebrating the mystique of Marrakech all available through the end of June. From private art lessons with local artists, a helicopter ride through the Atlas Mountains and shopping with the Souk’s savviest shopping experts, visitors can have a seamless Moroccan sojourn with a stay in the country’s legendary digs.
* Majorelle’s Footsteps Experience:
Beginning with a complimentary airport transfer in a ruby red Jaguar guests get a jet-lag massage upon arrival and over the next three days, experience a 90-minute Hamam ritual, private art lessons with a local artist, a guided visit of the famous Majorelle Gardens and a tour of the Marrakech with a professional photographer. In addition, guests have a breakfast each morning, plus a la carte dinners at L’Italien and at Le Marocain, two of Morocco’s top restaurants. Expect to pay around $4,500 per room per couple for three nights.
* Shopping Experience:
Similarly, this option begins with a complimentary airport transfer and a relaxing massage upon arrival. Over the next three days, guests take in the traditional a 90-minute Hamam ritual and then run around the faded pink city in a guided shopping tour of Marrakech that includes a $1,000 credit at selected boutiques at La Mamounia. The Shopping Experience also includes a beauty package: hair brushing and make-up for her, and haircut and shaving for him. Each morning, it’s a buffet breakfast, and for dinner, consider cocktails and a la carte dinner at Le Marocain – plus dinner reservations one night at an upscale restaurant in Marrakech. Rates run $5,700 per room, per couple for three nights.
* Morocco by Air Experience:
As with the other experiences, this choice starts with Jaguar or Range Rovers airport transfers and massage upon arrival. Over the next three days, guests enjoy a helicopter ride around the Atlas Mountains and a balloon ride at dawn. The thrill of the heights are complemented by the down to earth pleasures of the 90-minute Hamam ritual – and an added 90-minute Shiseido massage. It’s buffet breakfast each morning, as well as a la carte dinner at Le Marocain and another dinner at Le Francais by Jean Pierre Vigato. Prices begin at $10,500 per room per couple based for the three nights.
Rack rates run $558 per room per night.