Every now and then an offer comes up that’s just too good to refuse. When the Morocco Tourism Board invited me to experience Marrakech style, I knew I was in for a very special treat. And so last week I boarded a Royal Air Maroc flight from JFK to Casablanca along with Caroline Tell, Rebeccca Prusinowski of AHAlife, Stylecaster’s Susan Gertner, Kelly Framel of The Glamourai, From Me to You’s Jamie Beck, and our lovely leader Megan Matthews and headed on a magic carpet ride. Suffice it to say, the 7.5 hour journey was well worth the trip. What ensued was an unparalleled sensory overload. Marrakech is rich in history, culture, color, texture, and nightlife. From the dazzling caftans that abound, to the bright tassels that hang in the souk, to the fragrant amber, rose, and mint that can be found at the Berber pharmacies to the taste of a well-spiced tagine, Marrakech was an intoxicating delight. Here is a chronicle of my inspiring adventure:
Though I was half expecting Humphrey Bogart to greet me on the tarmac at the Casablanca airport, I was just as pleased to find our lovely driver Aziz waiting for us at baggage claim. After we collected our over-packed bags, we embarked on a 2.5 hour journey through the dessert and past several grazing pastures, modest tents, and simple enclaves of homes. Eventually we arrived in Marrakech and you could practically hear bells chiming as we first encountered the magic of the “red city.”
Finally, we arrived at our oasis, the Four Seasons Resort Marrakech, which didn’t disappoint. The staff was expecting us and we were immediately treated to traditional mint tea, a symbol of Moroccan hospitality and presented with trays of honey and fruit filled pastries, fresh dates, apricots, and assorted nuts along with the stunning site of the Four Seasons’ signature floral arrangements scattered throughout. Our lavish rooms combined a Moorish aesthetic with luxurious amenities; mine had a divine outdoor seating area and a view of the 40-acre property’s swaying palms.
Hungry after our long journey, we left the hotel for lunch at the Grand Café De La Poste, which felt part Old Havana, part 1920s Hollywood movie set. Originally built in 1925 during the time of the French Protectorate, the restaurant once doubled as a sorting office. After a round of mojitos and a light salad, we made our way back to the Four Seasons to lounge by one of the property’s two magnificent pools and seek respite from the 104 degree heat.
Later that evening we were off to one of the world’s oldest and most iconic hotel’s, La Mamounia. The legendary Moroccan Palace is located inside the walls of the old city and perfectly captures a sensuous sense of art de vivre. Enchanting grounds, lush gardens, and lavish facilities make for a captivating experience. Whereas the Four Seasons conveys a refreshing take on modern Maroc, this property is regal and historic. Fusing Moorish and art deco styles, La Mamounia is the epitome of elegance.
We took a break from gaping at every mosaic, fountain, and detail, to attend a press conference for CAFTAN 2012 to get an idea of what we could expect on the runway the following evening. Since much was lost in translation, I used the hour to catch up on sleep. I felt it better to leave the runway extravaganza as a surprise.
Then it was on to dinner at Azar, a trendy spot that fuses oriental and Moroccan influences. The martinis, which were ofcourse served in unique glassware, flowed and a bevy of belly dancers kept us bleary-eyed travelers awake.
We capped off our first evening with cocktails at Zest, the Four Seasons’ new rooftop bar, which offers incredible view of the city at night and some of the regions best DJs spinning until 1 am. We, however, made until just past midnight as the jet-lag was kicking in and we needed our beauty rest for another day under the North African sun.