Monday, November 22, 2010

WE HAVE JUST BEEN TO: Marrakech, PART 1 Amanjena


Tradition lives on in the souks near the legendary Jamaa-el-Fna Square (above).
Marrakech is as exotic as you can get. In the rose-tinted city, ringed by ancient walls, time stands still in narrow streets and endless souks piled with spices, cloths, mats, lanterns and other crafts. Ladies sweep by in robes and veils…

The faraway city has now “got closer”. Direct flights put Marrakech within easy reach of London. Now Norwegian has started direct flights from Stockholm and Oslo. Perfect time for us to pay a visit to three luxury hotels in our Select Collection, with very different charms.
Above: amanjena bassin paths

Purely perfect luxury and grace. What a starting point. We arrived as all guests do nowadays at Amanjena – by VIP transfer. Before even reaching the door into the airport, we were waved into a VIP lounge, offering peace of mind, juice and snacks while other people ran around with our passports. Then we were shamelessly lead around the long queues at passport control into the arrival hall. Soon we were sailing along with more snacks and mineral water in the Mercedes transfer vehicle, treated to a commentary on Marrakech and what to do.

First thing that happens everywhere in Morocco? You are poured mint tea – so we drank mint tea before we even entered the astounding resort. This was repeated at all 4 hotels we visited.
With serene distance, 20 minutes drive from the turbulence of the Medina, Amanjena wraps you in a romantic and exotic cloak of well-being with its theme of water, rose tinted domes, palms and Moorish arches, surrounded by the greens of a golf course.

It’s like being inside a giant artwork. You move to see it, to be part of it. A central man-made lake containing fish (the bassin) and radiating waterways reflect domes and palms. You follow tiled walkways constantly meeting symmetry, until you discover the swimming pool where people lie on sunbeds and eat and drink in the sun.

Amanjena pool
At night there are Moroccan lanterns burning everywhere, creating a lavishly romantic atmosphere. Laid out along tiled and white stone walkways, all symmetrical.
Amanjena romantic night
The rose-tinted domed pavilions offer more exquisite symmetry. Our bathroom is big, with green marble “his” basin and separate “hers” basin; his dressing area and hers…each with a dressing gown and cashmere cloak (for colder nights); slippers and flip-flops (big for him and dainty little ones for her).
Amanjena pavilion bath

In our courtyard garden we have two sunbeds, with a her hat and a his hat (out of straw). Plus a small dining table with two chairs and if we get visitors they could just flop onto a huge white sofa under an open pavilion in the courtyard. In the centre is a little pool full of floating rose petals, and all the time the fountain romantic can you get?

Pavilion courtyard sofa

Amanjena has three restaurants – a casual one around the pool, a Thai restaurant, and a French Moroccan. But the most popular dining place is actually in your own accommodation or at private venues like the Bedouin tent. Afternoon tea in the bar is another great tradition – mint tea is poured from a silver tea pot held high above tea glasses in a traditional Moroccan tea ceremony – and you are to watch the whole process.
amanjena tea ceremony

We chose the poolside restaurant for lunch. A superbly delicious aubergine dish 140 MAD. In the evening we chose the romantic Moroccan restaurant, which had the allure of live Moroccan music, indoor olive trees and marble columns. Traditional couscous with vegetables 260 MAD (less than 260 SEK).

amanjena Moroccan restaurant at night
Afterwards we walked around the serene and magical property, heartrendingly romantic, with lanterns reflected in the bassin. Though Amanjena was 65% occupied, you hardly saw a soul except friendly staff giving the old Moroccan heart salute. Guests are either dining romantically in the accommodation or doing the big Marrakech thing at the Square, which we will discover soon…
Marrakech snake charmers

For USD 450 plus 10% tax Amanjena will arrange a private visit to the Square. The driver will pick you up again and bring you “home” at time of your choice.The thing to know about Marrakech is that crossing a through road with cars, donkey carts, horse drawn carriages and dozens of bikes needs more than judgment. If you don’t step into the road, no one will stop – so you also need faith. The people of Morocco are very nice, kind and helpful on the whole. However, finding your way without scores of people trying to talk to you and lead you to a shop where they get commission, makes a discreet guide seem worth his weight in best souk gold.

Marrakech Kasbah niquabs

Intrigue, bargaining, colour, mystery and vibrant life…Marrakech.

amanjena bassin reflections

Reflections in the lake or bassin – full of live fish.Amanjena is perfect for those who want to chill out totally – imbibe the romance, beauty, and serenity, sun by the pool, play golf (1 minute away), enjoy good food and romantic evenings, body rub in the hammam, bliss out with massage, or make souk shopping and sightseeing sorties with the possibility of guidance or by taxi …
Further tips on things to do coming later.Breakfast is the most popular meal to eat in the accommodation, but nevertheless we chose to eat by the pool. The “Amanjena breakfast” included homemade bread, homemade croissants, homemade yoghurt , homemade strawberry jam, fresh fruit cut into a swirl of colourful design, musli (and other cereals) and café latte without any fuss over a supplement.

amanjena breakfast

This fabulous breakfast of home-made delights, VIP transfer and a massage are included in our latest offer from Amanjena.

Rainfall is very low in Marrakech. Temperatures ranged from 16 to 25 during our stay in November. Winter is a great time to visit. Later there will be snow on the Atlas Mountains bringing them into glittering focus. But you can still swim at Amanjena as the pools are heated, and the private pools may even reach 30 degrees C.

A pool pavilion is therefore a very good idea for mid winter. We checked out a pool pavilion – like ours, except the garden is larger and contains a swimming pool. Pool pavilions can connect with pool pavilions to make rather luxurious two bedroom accommodations (with pools).

Sunbeds, outdoor dining and a huge sofa under an open roof lie in front of the Pool pavilion – and more sunbeds on the other side of the pool (under the orange tree)

We also checked out a Maison. This is a stately villa on two levels, with a sitting room overlooking the pool, and a second bedroom downstairs with private entrance.

amanjena maison pool

The sitting room of the Maison looking out onto the heated pool.Upstairs is devoted to the master bedroom (image below) with cosy lounge nook and a huge bathroom including his and hers dressing rooms, and a long dressing table cum desk.
People often set up their laptops at this ample dressing table with its view over the hedge to the bassin, says Director of Sales Mafalda de Braganca.

Amanjena has six of these two-storey maisons. Maison Jardin differs in that it has a private garden and butler service.
The prime accommodation is the Al-Hamra Maison, with an extensive garden and the bedrooms both on the same level, along with butler service, indoor and outdoor dining areas and pool – of course, of course.
Final note: Amanjena has fast uncomplicated free wi-fi – no codes. Not at all third world...and yet exotic and soul-filling without doubt.

amanjena lobby area

Click here for our Amanjena page in the Select Collectin 2012-2014 website.

1 comment:

  1. Marrocco is an absolute enigma to me but hey, the amanjena bassin paths look like the rosedal garden in Argentina. I was there last year and there is this park in Palermo neighbourhood that is very neat, tidy and green with roses of different kinds. The hotel in buenos aires I was staying in was real close so I would go there every morning to start my day at the sunlight.
    When I go to Morrocco I will definitely stop by there and contemplate it, it seems beautiful!