Dispatch from Marrakech Film Festival
By Jimmy Im
The 2011 International Marrakech Film Festival has invaded the cosmopolitan city of Marrakesh, which means international celebs—from Sigourney Weaver to "India's Brad Pitt" Shah Rukh Kahn—have taken over the most post palaces, the hottest hotels and the rustic riads. And perfect timing. Each of these seven hotels all has something new to offer the most famous of guests.
Four Seasons Marrakech
The 141-room property sprawling 40 acres evokes a Moorish palace with whimsical stairwells and lush gardens. While there's little imagination to decor, the spa, Solano restaurant and pool are equipped with some of the finest service in Morocco. Not a bad place to bump into Moroccan royalty.
What's new: The entire hotel! It opened officially November 2011.
Get impressed with this 39-villa resort where fountains filled with pink rose petals are ubiquitous and the central reflection pool feels like it stretches for miles. Amanjena offers private plunge pools, a popular boutique with fancy handicrafts, 100-foot heated pool and the best Thai food this side of Africa.
What's new: Take your honey to the new Caidal Tent, an intimate, fancy tent with your own local band to jam live should you desire.
Expect prime stargazing (and star spotting) at Richard Branson's 27-room hideaway at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. It almost feels like a safari but here, you'll never want to leave your suite—unless you opt for a traditional camel ride.
What's new: The resort just introduced four new luxury Berber tents in November 2011.
Palace es Saadi
This resort run by a socialite French family has the hottest nightlife options in town (Teatro, where Red One recently performed and Epicuren, a classic, European-style lounge inside the casino). While you should opt for the villas or suites over the hotel rooms (it's a large resort complex), don't forget to check out the eucalyptus tree that rises through the center of the three-story spa.
What's new: Dior Institute, opened last year, and the only one outside of Paris. Hello, four-hand massage.
Nothing is more authentic than staying at a riad (traditional home with central courtyard and fountain). This new property that opened last year is inside the medina with 7 individually designed suites, all with contemporary design and furnishings. Need someone to walk you through the souk or hem your Prada pants? The staff awaits.
What's new: Only open a year, Riad Joya will have a a new hammam and spa in 2012.
Who else cried when the most opulent hotel in Marrakech closed for three years? Thankfully, the renovations were worth the wait, and now guests can expect a complete redesign with commanding Jacques Garcia-decor, a 27,000-square-foot spa, restaurants with MIchelin-starred chefs and a swanky bar in addition to lush gardens and over-the-top lobby fanciness.
What's new: The hotel fully reopened in 2009.
Built by the King of Morocco himself, this lavish, "seven-star" hotel lives up to its cache with incredible details in decor and plenty of attractive antiques to keep your eyes busy. 53 individually designed one-, two-, three-bedroom and four-bedroom riads come with personal butler and rooftop terrace with plunge pool. The entire property resembles a typical medina, so it's like a blinged-out, self-contained village. Rooms start at $2,000 per night, FYI.
What's new: The hotel opened in 2010.