Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Royal Mansour: the most beautiful hotel in the world. And about the great shopping in Morocco.


Planning for our upcoming Travelife to Morocco from November 16 to 24 has made me remember all the wonderful things about my recent holiday in Morocco last June, living a Travelife.


We flew to Morocco for just under two weeks. It was our third trip together to Africa in about 18 months, during which we'd had the most amazing, luxurious and also extreme adventures.

For this holiday in Morocco, we drove the width and breadth the country, covering almost all the major destinations.

Or at least most of them.


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TRAVELIFE WITH US



STOPPING SHORT OF THE SAHARA

We didn't get up to Tangiers, and I would have loved to go on to the Sahara desert.

We stopped just short of the Sahara, you see, a few dozen kilometres away from Ouarzazate, which is the last major town and outpost of civilization before the desert.

And what a civilized place this turned out to be.

AN AMAZING HOTEL
IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE



The hotel we stayed in near this town was an ever so stylish boutique hotel called Dar Ahlam, which is part of the Relais & Chateaux group.

The idea of this stylish hotel in the middle of nowhere certainly left us in awe.

It's a gruelling five-hour drive through the Atlas Mountains, but this experience was so worth it. I was positively car sick due to the countless sharp hairpin turns, but I survived and reached Dar Ahlam, where I instantly perked up at the sight of a hotel straight out of Architectural Digest.


THE BEST OF EVERYTHING

For this trip, we stayed in some pretty amazing hotels.

I was in charge of choosing where to stay, and I tried to pick a nice variety of experiences, just so we could have a little bit of everything.

So we stayed in a villa in Rabat, a charming luxury riad in Fes (Palais Amani) and an amazing kasbah in the desert (Dar Ahlam). 

We also stayed in a vintage riad (Villa des Orangers), a luxury resort (the Four Seasons Marrakech) and an honest-to-goodness palace in Marrakech.


At the Palais Amani in Fes


MAYBE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL HOTEL 
IN THE WORLD

And I have to mention our last hotel for this holiday in Morocco, living a Travelife, as it was also one of the most beautiful hotels either of us have ever stayed at.

Yes, it's right at the top of a long list of simply lovely destination properties, even in a never-endingly amazing Travelife.

More on this lovely hotel, the Royal Mansour in Marrakech, later. This hotel really took our breath away from the first instant.

And I'm sure our other hotels in Morocco will understand if I single the Royal Mansour out in this blog entry, as it's owned by the King of Morocco.


THE HOTEL THAT FLOORS
EVEN JADED TRAVELERS

For now, let me tell you that it floored even the Travel Companion, who is probably hands down the most jaded traveler in the world.

You can't blame him for being jaded, though, because he's been there and done that way ahead of 99.99% of the world's population. No exaggeration.

So it's really hard to impress him.

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FINDING HAPPINESS & BEAUTY EVERWHERE

As for me, I've stayed in many of the world's most beautiful hotels and resorts, but I'm not a jaded person at all.

So it's easy for me to find happiness and beauty everywhere -- although I will admit that I'm a real stickler for luxury and comfort.

There are very few instances when I compromise on luxury hotels, especially for private holidays.

At the Four Seasons Marrakech

THIS HOTEL REALLY FLOORED HIM

Anyway, about this last hotel of ours in Morocco, the Travel Companion said to me over our last dinner in Morocco before heading back to Asia:  "We've done three trips to Africa in 18 months, and a total of 40 days of hotel stays. This is truly the first time I'm walking around with my mouth wide open."

He added: "As in you're going to have to pick my jaw up from the floor."



He's enjoyed almost every hotel I've picked out, of course, but this last hotel is really one for the books.

And he said this in such a serious way that made me giggle the whole evening, for some reason.

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STRAIGHT FROM
THE ARABIAN NIGHTS

And our private riad, which is really a jewel of a villa straight out of Arabian Nights, came with the services of the best butler in Marrakech.

His name was Mohammed, and he made a world of difference to my stay.

The simply beautiful Royal Mansour
in Marrakech
THE BEST BUTLER IN MARRAKECH

Many top hotels have great private butlers for their best suites, but Mohammed of the Royal Mansour offered simply flawless service.

The Travel Companion likes unpacking and packing his own bags, so his dealings with Mohammed were mostly for the uncorking of the champagne and the ordering of meals.




But I just loved having our private butler unpack my stuff when we arrived.

And then having him wrap everything up ever so carefully in tons of bubblewrap on the day we checked out, for the long and bumpy trip back to Asia.


This alone gave me time for a massage and some spa time before checking out and flying back to Asia.

The Royal Mansour has the first Chanel facial treatments being offered in the world on its menu, so that was certainly worth trying out.

A TON OF SHOPPING

The Travel Companion and I each bought a gold tea set
because we both loved Morocco's green tea with mint.
And this somehow seems perfect to serve in a real teapot
from a Moroccan souk

Having a butler unpack and then pack my bags was heaven sent. 

We had something like three different sitting rooms in our riad, so I commandeered one of sitting rooms on the second floor just for my luggage so that everything could be unpacked and neatly arranged for my inspection.


Talk about a spoiled Travelife here. It doesn't happen to this extent very often, frankly, but when it does, I'm quite happy to sit back and enjoy it.

LOTS OF SHOPPING.
AND EVERYTHING'S BREAKABLE.

I'd bought a ton -- literally, a ton -- of breakable things in souks, antique shops and fancy boutiques all over Morocco.


Everything about the lovely and very different designs of the places we'd stayed at in Morocco  had totally inspired me.

We did stay in the best places in Morocco, after all, and each was so different and therefore so interesting to me.

So while I was there, I was so inspired me to turn my house in Manila into a mini-version of an Arabian Nights.

I bought these golden dessert plates in the souks of Fes,
and the handpainted glass plates in
a pretty upscale antiques store in Marrakech


ENOUGH LUGGAGE TO CHECK IN AN ELEPHANT

As for our luggage on the way home to Asia from Casablanca, I think we checked in a total of 85 kilos between both of us. 

I know my two suitcases were incredibly heavy because I could not lift either of them even an inch off the floor by myself.

So thank goodness I didn't have to do this myself.

That's our car, waiting to be loaded with a ton of luggage for the airport...

This was really quite something -- and much of it had to do with the very heavy pitchers and handpainted dinnerware sets I'd bought to use for fancy dinner parties back home.

Nothing was terribly pricey, mind you, but I so loved the idea of having unique things that also will serve as a nice memory of a pretty wonderful trip to Morocco -- our third journey to Africa in the last 18 months.

And now here I am, headed back to Morocco again in a couple of months, for more wonderful experiences and amazing shopping in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.


TRAVELIFE WITH US



I happened to choose the heaviest teapot
in the store.
And I love it.



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