THE SPA SHORTLIST: MARRAKECH
Need to jet away? Almost as close as Malaga from the UK but way more exotic, Marrakech’s mix of mesmerizing bazaars, glam hotels, fuschia sunsets and orange-perfumed gardens make it a Moroccan fairytale. Time just seems to slow down here, which in itself feels like a tonic, so there’s more time to savour the magic of Marrakech.
If you’re feeling heat-deprived, average temperatures in winter hover around the 23C-26C mark during the day (much better than Malaga!) and up to 32C in late spring. One of the best times to visit Marrakech is now – skip spring and go straight into “instant summer”. July and August can get very hot, so an alternative is to spend a night or two in sultry Marrakech then head 2.5 hrs west to easy, breezy Essaouira on the Atlantic coast.
Among the highlights of the Selman Marrakech for me were the gorgeous Arab horses
I was lucky enough to visit four spa resorts in Marrakech a few weeks ago – all utterly luxurious, yet each one very different from the other.
So pour yourself a mint tea and book your flying carpet as we visit these four spas this week: The Selman Marrakech (famous for its Arab horses, it opened two springs ago), La Mamounia (Marrakech’s most iconic and intoxicating hotel, there are no words to describe it – go!), The Royal Mansour (luxe with a capital L – stay in your own private riad!) and The Four Seasons (‘modern Marrakech’ at its absolute best).
THE SELMAN MARRAKECH
Far from the madding medina. The pool and gardens at the Selman Marrakech
WHY GO? Created by the guru of hotel design, Frenchman Jacques Garcia and owned by a local family, the Selman only opened in May 2012. Its modern black laquer and royal purple colour scheme gives it a palace-meets-boutique hotel feel.
THE DETAILS: Fireplaces, coffee table books about Arab stallions, “optical illusion hallways”, chocolate eclairs almost two feet long…and the gardens!
Horses, horses everywhere…and this corridor seemed to go on forever
With more staff than guests, you’ll feel like you’re staying at a private country estate just minutes from all the action in Marrakech.
The spa – easy to nod off here in the soothing ambiance and dappled low lighting
THE SPA Run by one of the most radiant and lovely people I’ve ever met, Aurelie from Paris, she trained at the Chenot Institute in Italy and really knows her stuff.
I have to say I’m not a fan of hamman treatments, they’re just not my thing, so it was good to have a choice of balancing, calming or energising spa treatments. I was battling an ear infection, so the spa pool and hydrotherapy treatments were off limits for me that day, but I had a brilliant Hand and Foot Reflexology Massage which went way beyond “relaxing” – it felt very centering, soothing and grounding and interestingly although it was 55 mins long, it felt to me like a good hour and a half – utter bliss and perhaps that was the “Marrakech on slow time” effect?
The Henri Chenot treatments featured at the spa are all geared towards toning, lifting and slimming. Bio-energetic therapies and hydrotherapy are also part of the spa’s offering. (Chenot does a superb skincare range, but I’m not sure where it’s available in the UK – I’ll check and update this!)
VERDICT I would go back in a heartbeat. This hotel is a dream, and it’s not on everyone’s radar yet. Seeing the Arab horses in the stables was one of the highlights and perhaps it’s because this hotel is owned by a family that I felt really at home here – you feel like you just want to wander around the grounds, glue yourself to a sunlounger or curl up with a book on one of the purple sofas; it’s a welcoming sanctuary of modern opulence and peace after you’ve been out and about in Marrakech.
Jacques Garcia’s opulent-but-contemporary interiors
Could we stay forever, s’il vous plait?
See the horses “in the logo”?
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: ALL THE BEAUTIFUL HORSES, photographed by Beatriz Posada Alonso
THE SELMAN MARRAKECH
is located at KM 5, Route d’Amizmiz, Marrakech
Tel: +212 524 45 96 00
Next up…The Four Seasons, Marrakech