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Stuck at La Mamounia due to Volcanic Eruption

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.

The gardens and hotel in the background

The gardens and hotel in the background

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.

The classic, Morrocan colors of La Mamounia's lobby

The classic, Morrocan colors of La Mamounia’s lobby

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?

The roses outside my suite's ground floor terrace

The roses outside my suite's spacious, ground floor terrace

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

The pool where I was set up comfortably with not one but three towels on my chair
La Mamounia's Gelateria

La Mamounia's Gelateria

The fitness center which might have been the straw that broke the camel's back (so fitting!)

The fitness center which might have been the straw that broke the camel's back (get it, camel - Marrakesh. I know, too clever for words)

Perhaps my favorite element of the hotel: A gardener with his most faithful tool.

Perhaps my favorite photo of the entire hotel: A gardener with his most faithful tool tending to the roses in front of the tennis courts.

The entrance to the Spa - alas, no further photos were allowed

The entrance to the Spa - alas, no further photos were allowed. I was treated to a pre-natal massage which was lovely, but nothing special. I worry the poor man doing the treatment was afraid of my belly. With over 80 treatments though, including full body scrubs with Hammam, I don't feel I can fully account.

The sitting room of my Executive Suite

The sitting room of my Executive Suite - both the flowers and the fruit tray (seen behind the flowers) were changed daily - thump, thump goes my heart.

My plushy bed...wonderfully turned down each night.

My plushy bed...wonderfully turned down each night with enough pillows to keep me comfortable and less lonely.

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!

La Mamounia's indoor Spa pool - never saw a single sould in it! Save, of course, fellow devoted journalists.

La Mamounia's indoor Spa pool - never saw a single sould in it! Save, of course, fellow devoted journalists.

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.

Posted in: Hotel Reviews, Travel Tips

Published by Meg, Wednesday, April 21, 2010 No Comments

Marrakesh Crush

Africa, Hotel Reviews


Marrakesh, Morroco

April 12-16th
A large, toothy grin followed by subsequent nods to myself  – I fear I even paused mid-route to the my room. Yup, I am positively smitten with this hotel and have that wonderful, googly, love-at-first-sight in Marrakesh’s La Mamounia Hotel.

The popular guestroom shot of La Mamounia. The real thing is as good as it looks here.

The popular guestroom shot of La Mamounia. The real thing is as good as it looks here.

Spoiled beyond my dreams (and my very high, professionally-based expectations), being a guest at this bountiful hotel has been a truly exceptional treat of my job.

The revamped pool and pool pavillion, which serves breakfast and a tremendous mediterranean buffet cuisine at lunch

The revamped pool and pool pavilion, which serves breakfast and a tremendous Mediterranean buffet cuisine at lunch

Every detail – from the Bernardo the proextender system china to the Porthault linen to the 20 acres of gardens abloom with a lipstick color collection of roses – has set me into a swoon. I hate to wax poetic, it goes against my well-honed critical nature, however, my admiration for this 210-room hotel has yet to falter in the three nights I’ve been here.  Tonight is my final night and I’m already dreading packing.

One of the standard rooms. If you can, splurge for a suite as the moroccan detailing - tilework, paster carvings, arched doors and copper lanterns are deliciously more abundant.

One of the well-adorned standard rooms

I promise to include more anecdotes and specifics – including the spa, fantastic fitness area with clay tennis courts and a panoramic gym with loads of LifeFitness (!) equipment and posh pool scene. In the meantime, I leave you to these professional, drool-worthy photographs.

Posted in: Africa, Hotel Reviews

Published by Meg, Thursday, April 15, 2010 No Comments


Food + Wine



JULY 30th

Ehem, High Breakfast is not a term describing the person enjoying the tiered feast of breakfast goodies (though they’d certainly be psyched) but rather a take on England’s tried and true tradition of High Tea adapted to breakfast. Devised by the manager of London’s Haymarket Hotel, High Breakfast (pictured below) is a three-tiered celebration of the first (and most important) meal of the day’s top offerings.

For the 'just a nibble' in us all

For the 'just a nibble' in us all

Don’t worry, I got involved eventually. The little parfaits with homemade granola were the ideal size – in that they left room for the follow-up croissant.

Oh yes I did

Check out the adorable vintage-style coffee cup. I ordered three over the course of the day.

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Posted in: Food + Wine

Published by Meg, Tuesday, August 4, 2009 No Comments

about meg

About Meg


Meg is the founder of luxury travel consulting company, Friend of a Friend Consulting. Her three books, Italian Hideaways, Caribbean Hideaways and England's Hideaways are published by Rizzoli. Passionate about travel, hotels and wine, she continues to write freelance travel pieces and is currently pursuing a Masters in Wine through the WSET.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and do not reflect separate business relationships with the subject. Whenever posts are supported financially, they are designated as such.