2012 Destinations: Marrakech – In with the new

2012 Destinations: Marrakech - In with the new

Marrakech has long been Morocco’s most popular city for tourists, who come for its mystical traditions and magical, maze-like medina, with its beautiful, shabby old riads, the exotic sights, sounds and scents in the air.

But recently, two districts have been drawing more savvy visitors beyond the Medina walls: Hivernage and the Route d’Amizmiz.
‘Hivernage has become a focal point for designer restaurants and cafés for cool kids, wealthy locals and jet-set Europeans,’ says Tara Stevens in Condé Nast Traveller. Two glittering new hotels in the neighbourhood – which has been described as ‘the Mayfair of Marrakech’ – Pearl (interior-designed by Jacques Garcia, who revamped the city’s legendary La Mamounia) and the Four Seasons Hotel Marrakech have given these jetsetters somewhere to stay.

‘If the Palmeraie is the haunt of multimillionaires, then the Route d’Amizmiz attracts the upwardly mobile, although it retains its country charm,’ says Stevens. ‘It winds its way from the city through rolling hills, leading to villages and several designer properties.’

One such property is Sirayane Boutique Hotel & Spa, a modern reinvention of a kasbah with 28 cubist rooms, a gourmet restaurant and a spa. And set to open soon is The Great Getaway, made up of lodges and traditional caidal tents set among palm groves, plus an enormous swimming pool.

Meanwhile, within the old city walls, more riads and old palaces are being spruced up and turned into incredible places to stay.
‘The Marrakech hotel scene is developing at breakneck speed,’ says Emily Mathieson, Word of Mouth Editor of Condé Nast Traveller. ‘If deadlines are hit, visitors will have at least four new five-star resorts to choose from before spring is out.’
Among them are The Selman, another fabulous property designed by Jacques Garcia, Namaskar Palace and the Taj Marrakech, which has already been used as a location in Sex & The City II.

Riad El Fenn is one of an increasing number of hip, contemporary-meets-traditional riad hotels, which is owned by Vanessa Branson (brother of Richard). This year, it will host the Marrakech Biennale. The international programme of performance, screening and debate in English, Arabic and French runs from 29 February until 4th March 2012.

Source: cntraveller.com