Friday, September 30, 2016

BETWEEN DESERT & RED CITY - THE MANDARIN ORIENTAL MARRAKECH

Neil Bedford is blown away by this property on the outskirts of Marrakech ...


The Mandarin Oriental Marrakech is a stunning pool villa resort on the edge of the desert overlooking lovely gardens and the Atlas Mountains. Known for its Asian minimalism, in Marrakech the brand has subtly melded  Moroccan arts and contemporary style. Whispering of luxury (rather than shouting), it is perhaps the most simply graceful of the ravishing properties  that have popped up around the city of Marrakech.


Mandarin Oriental Marrakech main biuilding nestled in beautiful grounds

The 54, single-storey villas and central low-rise hub are nestled in a fully mature garden dotted with reflection ponds, centuries-old olive trees and more than a hundred thousand roses. A  vast sparkling pool is lined with indulgently oversize loungers. Or guests can hide away by their private pools – in some of the most impressive pool villas in Marrakech.


Pools and gardens


Inside there is subtle sense of place with influence from Berber arts. Add to that standards of service not usually attained in Morocco. There were many small touches and gestures from the staff that you would expect in Thailand/Bali but often disappear completely in many other countries.

While not a typical family resort, the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech can certainly please families. For romantic couples it is perfect with everything you could wish for from the gorgeous spa, high end dining, total privacy in your pool villa, chance to dress up in the evenings...

If one fancies  wandering among the souks, they are only 20 minutes taxi ride away amidst the excitement and intrigue of the Medina.

In the winter this hotel  is an ideal destination for a tranquil spa break. Reputedly the best spa in Marrakech it has a vast indoor pool and sublime treatment rooms, some with your own small terrace garden, other couples rooms with oversize baths. Some rooms feature private hammams.


Hammams

Pool villa bliss

The most impressive array of pool villas in Marrakech.

The Mandarin Villa is totally WOW - a 100sqm interior + 200sqm private courtyard with 22sqm pool. Small touches like the various courtyard sofas/furnishings allowing you to relax in several different areas to follow/escape the sun depending on your preference. Inside the design features a lounge, stunning bathroom and bedroom. As it is a villa compound you have no views but due to their size and open design it certainly does not feel enclosed.

Mandarin villa


Mandarin Villa pool bedroom
The 2 bedroom Oriental Villa is essentially the same set up but with a bigger courtyard/pool and the second (ensuite) bedroom nestled within the courtyard reached by a courtyard walk.


Oriental Villa

Designed for families the 2 bedroom Infinity Pool Suite is approx. 300 sqm (like the Mandarin Villa). A small garden and well sized pool (approx. 20sqm) with excellent set up for private dining.

Breakfast at the  villa
For those seeking views:

The Atlas and Panoramic Suites are located on the first floor above the lobby/restaurants. They have fantastic views of the gardens and Atlas Mountains and private plunge pools on the balcony.

The 2 bedroom Royal Suite above the lobby/restaurants  features a similar interior to the Infinity Pool Suite plus two plunge pools on the balcony. Lastly The Penthouse is made up of the 8 suites on the first floor above the lobby/restaurants.


Food & drink

After several days in Marrakech, when I went to Ling Ling I rejoiced! Outstanding food, service and atmosphere. Fantastic sharing style modern light Cantonese cuisine with every dish beautifully constructed and packed with flavor. It is operated by Hakassan the luxury restaurant group with places in London, New York, Las Vegas, Dubai. The bar inside gets lively with a DJ on till 1am on weekends. For romance ask for a table outside overlooking the pools and gardens.

The other main evening restaurant is Mes’Lalla – modern Moroccan. It has a great reputation among high end locals. Breakfast, afternoon tea and the Champagne Bar are in another room with great views over the gardens and pool.

During the day you can eat outside on the terrace of the pools so for a 4 night stay there is just about enough choice.

Dining on the restaurant terrace or taking the sun down by the pools

Fine dining

Quick facts

Contemporary villa resort on the edge of the desert. 54 stand alone pool villas (1 & 2 bed) and 9 1st floor pool suites (1 & 2 bed)

Location

20 mins taxi to the Medina/airport. 2 mins drive to Royal Golf. 5 mins drive to Al Maaden Golf. Great views to the Atlas Mountains from all over the property.

Who to stay

Truly top end clients.  Perfect for couples, but also works well for families.

Verdict

A stunning hotel in all aspects.


NOTE

Neil Bedford is Product Director at Select Collection.

For more about Mandarin Oriental CLICK HERE.






Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A NORWEGIAN IN CANADA

Great feedback from a Norwegian client in Canada. One thing our Norwegian traveller did NOT see was another Norwegian – apart from his party. What he did meet was captivating wilderness and wildlife, along with good hotels, good food and good service…


Bears were one of the thrills…

BEAR NEWS

”On our way from Lake Louise to Jasper today we had to stop for a Black Bear who wanted to cross  the road. That’s how polite we should be, but unfortunately we could not get our camera out in time,`” commented our Norwegian traveler. But he did get this image...


"Blackcomb-Whistler Peak 2 Peak Gondola   World’s longest cable on a gondola – 3.03km – and the highest point above ground is 436m it says in Guiness Book of Records…we could see a small black dot 400m below us, a Black Bear enjoying the riverside..."


OVERALL REVIEW

Written to his Select Collection travel advisor Ada in Oslo:

We are back from Canada - and I just wanted to thank for job well done from your side.
Everything worked out just brilliant. Dreamliner with Air Canada on the way over was very good. Car and hotels also excellent. 
The highlight when it comes to the food / drink menu was in Lake Louise but all hotels kept a very high standard. 
We found great service and friendly staff in all places - and an experience to travel through the Rocky Mountains.
Absolutely to recommend to others.
I think it's the first time I've been on vacation for 14 days abroad without coming across a single other Norwegian.

ON THE THEME OF WILDLIFE




Moose aplenty...


Wise owl...


 Cute squirrel...




SPECTACULAR NATURAL BEAUTY


Lake Louise


Lake Louise in the distance, ringed by gigantic peaks

Roaring water

Magnificent Blackcomb

Jasper

And despite all the very snowy mountain landscapes- a winery among the vineyards of an old goldfield.


Wine tasting

Wine country Lillooet - former gold fields

SPORTS


Watersports

A skitrail in summer

Trying your hand at motor sports


ITINERARY

Flight with Lufthansa Oslo-Calgary // Vancouver Oslo
AVIS Rental Car Chevrolet Suburban or similar
June 28-30  - 2 nights at the Post Hotel & Spa in Pipestone, Lake Louse
June 30-July 2 - 2 nights at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge in Jasper
July 2-3  - 1 night at Sun Peaks Grand Hotel in Sun Peaks - 2-bedroom Condo
July 3-5  - 2 nights at the Four Seasons Resort Whistler
July 5-13 - Vancouver private stay

BACKGROUND

The trip was put together by Select Collection senior travel adviser Ada Størmer Papatheocharis from our Oslo office . Many thanks to our client for his permission to publish his comments and images.

For our standard Canada programme CLICK HERE

However, as masters of bespoke travel, we are always at the ready to go "out of the book" to tailor totally different luxury journeys for our clients.