Hotel Reviews, Travel Tips
April 16th, 2010
Ah, the pitfalls of my job as a world-traveler – weather delays due to unforeseen natural disasters such as, um, volcanic eruptions in Iceland?!!
As I watched my fellow journalists depart on their direct flight to JFK, while mine was delayed until further notice – Schipol airport in Amsterdam being effectively shut – I reconciled that one more day in Marrakesh wouldn’t be the worst thing possible. Surely there are worse places to be stuck. In fact, most places in the world are undoubtedly worse than this tropical oasis along Marrakesh’s ancient city walls.
So, I waved goodbye to the departing NY’ers and headed back to my room, hopeful that any minute a note asking me to please vacate wouldn’t slide under the door.
Fortunately, I was treated incredibly generously by the staff at La Mamounia – despite my 1 night extra turned into three! Both the General Manager, Didier Picquot and Executive Director, DenysCourtier were incredibly kind and patient with me, continuing on as affable hosts and abating my growing distress with a calm manner and professional ease. I cannot thank them enough.
So, after each failed attempt at the airport (daily), I would return to La Mamounia with a bittersweet apathy towards my predicament. Alas, I was alone (not to mention, 7mos pregnant) in one of the world’s most romantic cities with delicious, though spicy, cuisine and an urge to explore paired against a vulnerable hormonal state. Whatever was I to do?
Hmm…maybe indulge in my fabulous, temporary digs – a suite at La Mamounia? With its bevy of fancy boutiques, 27,000 sq foot spa; magnificent pool, three signature restaurants headed by two Michelin Star chefs, Alfonso Iaccarino of the famed Don Alfonso 1890 in Sant’ Agata, Italy and Jean-Pierre Vigato, Owner of Apicius in Paris, France, five bars; impressive fitness complex, and twenty acres of historic gardens complete with a vegetable garden and center restaurant serving gelato and light snacks throughout the day, I found it none-too-arduous a task. They even had an amazing beauty salon which had an special butt enhancing cream. I’ll let the pics tell the rest so you can see results…
Of course, all this luxury does come with a hefty price tag and while I was a guest of the hotel, I did have to cover my food expenses, which, sadly were not inexpensive. Despite my efforts to stick to a two-meal a day plan, I was pregnant, and even the slightest room service order made an impact. Nevertheless, the perks of staying at the hotel – including some plush freebies: a brown leather magic wallet embossed with the hotel’s insignia (sure beats the candy-colored j-crew ones), their signature, phenomenal-smelling bath products and creamy, round bath soaps that come connveniently packaged in a portable tin, copious amounts of fresh fruit (the pears were unbelievable) and bottled water – particularly helpful if on the two-meal-a-day plan!
Normally I shy away from big hotels, finding them generally, impersonal and overbearing. Perhaps it’s La Mamounia’s rich heritage or Jacques Garcia’s estimable, authentically-minded redesign or maybe its simply the location’s epic scenery, either way, it worked to win me over. I now consider La Mamounia one of my favorite hotels in the world.