Mandarin Oriental Marrakech Showcases The Rich Cultural Heritage Inspired By Andalusian Modern-Chic Design

Mandarin Oriental Marrakech is a timeless celebration of rich Moroccan heritage inspired by Berber and Arab-Andalusian influences and underpinned by the brand’s legendary service.

  • 18 Jun '24
  • 1:24 pm by Satarupa Datta

There are places we bookmark to visit, and then there are places we return to put down our roots and adopt as our homeland. Marrakech is one such place.  The iconic fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge visited Marrakech and fell in love with this North African Shangri-La. In 1966, Yves Saint Laurent bought the famous Majorelle Garden and the villa to give it new life. Designed to preserve the vision of its original owner, the French landscape painter Jacques Majorelle, Yves built it as a desert mirage by implanting 300 plant species. At its heart, Majorelle’s electric-blue villa is now home to the Musée Berbère and a haven for photographers and Instagrammers. Outside this garden oasis, the salmon-pink monotone of Marrakech follows you. Beyond the warren of its vibrant medina, another world awaits—Africa’s grandest hotels that exceed the expectations of the most discerning travellers.

Mandarin Oriental Marrakech, the first Moroccan property from the Asian powerhouse brand, artfully captures the ‘pink city’ inside the precinct that sprawls amid twenty hectares of landscaped, fragrant gardens shaded with palm trees and intersected pools with the snow-capped Atlas Mountains as a stunning backdrop. The sensory overload continues with world-class dining catering to all palates; the Moroccan hammam-inspired spa and its standalone pool villas are akin to a private oasis that showcases Moroccan ‘art de vivre’, meaning the true art of living. 

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Inspired by the Madrasa Ben Youssef Islamic College the entrance achieves a perfect symmetry of columns, dark wood frames, marble tiles and a tranquil pool bounded by lush greens. (Image Credit: Mandarin Oriental Marrakech)

Getting There

The hotel is just 15 minutes from the Marrakech Menara International Airport and close to its main landmarks. Marrakech is well connected with most European cities and hence has direct flights from major cities like London, Paris, Istanbul, Nice, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Milan. There are also interconnecting flights from India and other Asian countries to Morocco. 

The massive layout of interlacing pools and palm-fringed riad-style villas conjure the illusion of a desert oasis (Image Credit: Mandarin Oriental Marrakech)

The Architectural Design Is A Blend Of Berber-Andalusian And Oriental Influences

Standing on the cusp of Europe and Africa, Morocco was a melting pot of cultures and influences, with a long line of rulers, taking turns in forming Kingdoms. This diverse history is reflected in Moroccan architecture, with intermingled styles from native Berbers to the Arabs, Moors, and later French imprinted their legacy. The Parisian architect Pascal Desprez conceived this palm-studded desert oasis of glistening pools while the design firm Gilles and Boissier decked out the interiors, where Andalusian grandeur meets oriental aesthetics. 

According to Boissier, the earth, sand, street colours, and traditional Berber women’s clothing were the major influences on its design. The sand colour of the stonework blends with the large expanses of dominant green, bringing a fluidity between the exterior architecture and the surrounding nature. Gardens are a Moroccan legacy,  and Boissier wanted guests to get lost in the shades of the lush greens and its rocks by including archetypal motifs, rural materials, and white bougainvillaea and roses. But the biggest draw is the standalone garden villas, the designer’s contemporary take on traditional ‘riads,’ which showcase luxury and elegance at every turn. 

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The outdoor courtyard, with its pool, jacuzzi, curtained alcove decked with cushions, and fireplace, is the perfect setting for in-villa alfresco dining. (Image Credit: Mandarin Oriental Marrakech)

The Private Villas Are Reimagined Modern Riads Meticulously Tailored With Luxury

At the 20-hectare property, all 56 private villas inspired by Berber and Andalusian-Arabic influences are havens of luxury and style, where interior and exterior spaces coexist, like that of glamorous riads without looking ostentatious. All private villas come with a spacious bedroom, living area fitted with a work desk, massive bathrooms with a tub, walking closet, sauna, and dressing table with one’s favourite hair styler – Dyson® Supersonic Hairdryer. 

The master bedroom has an oriental warmth fusing Moroccan ‘tadelakt’ plastered walls etched with Berber motifs, hand-woven rugs from Rabat and delicate latticework.

But there are enough reasons to choose outdoor courtyard living too. Shaded by a sleek pergola dressed in drooping creepers of white bougainvillaea, the private pool area comes alive with a jacuzzi, an outdoor lounge area, and a pantry to nibble in pure relaxation. The outdoor courtyard is a true manifesto of excellence in outdoor design. 

The spa corridor made of red-brick arches feels like a dizzying warren of staggering grooves and entirely a Morrocan design style. (Image Credit: Mandarin Oriental Marrakech)

MO Marrakech Spa Introduces The Holistic Approach Of Moroccan Hammam

The spa at Mandarin Oriental Marrakech covers 1800 square meters where elegance meets cultural heritage. Its architecture is a tribute to Andalusia’s ancient mosques and cathedrals, kindling a sensory journey once afoot. The spa unit includes four treatment cabanas all with outdoor treatment areas by the garden, two luxurious hammams adorned with ‘zellige’ tile work, a beauty salon, a sprawling indoor heated swimming pool, and a state-of-the-art fitness centre and yoga room. The common thread that flows through each space is the ubiquitous red bricks of Marrakech and ‘moucharabieh’ screens evoking a mystical aura of light and shadow. The tactile ventilated walls are an ode to the rustic kasbah homes– the ones we love at Ouarzazate, lying at the foothills of the high Atlas mountains.

The indoor heated swimming pool features ‘mashrabiya’ windows carved in latticework inviting an interplay of lights and shadow. (Image Credit: Mandarin Oriental Marrakech)

Once you have soaked in its stunning design, treat your senses to an authentic Moroccan spa treatment. The treatment includes steam in the hammam room, a deep exfoliation scrub with black soap, a body mask to allow a thorough cleanse, and a delicate wash down by the masseuse to complete the full body treatment. All that you will crave after this is a refreshing Moroccan mint tea amidst nature’s serenity at the pool garden.

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The elegant geometry of Islamic patterns and Moroccan arches overlap to create a stunning ambience at Ling Ling by Hakkasan. (Image Credit: Mandarin Oriental)

The Dining Serves Rich Flavours of Silk Route, Mediterranean To Modern Cantonese

 MO Marrakech’s dining spaces are where one finds the modern, eclectic Marrakech vibe filled with live band music and guests relaxing with cocktails stirred with homemade syrups and fresh fruits. Shirvan led by the Michelin-starred Chef Akrame Benallal curates an innovative menu researching silk route recipes. The Chef’s creations are delicately scented with spices and one should never miss the signature hummus, mushroom tikkis, homemade bread and tuna tartare with seasonal fruits and tahini. Asian-focussed Ling Ling by Hakkasan is a massive hit among connoisseurs and gourmets applauded for its magnificent décor, music-filled ambience, and dishes that linger on your palate for long, like silken tofu, braised eggplant, and shitake to black truffle edamame rice. But the showstopper is the signature ‘sweet caviar.’ It’s a crown on contemporary dessert, served in a traditional caviar tin, featuring multiple dessert layers and topped with caviar-resembling chocolate pearls.

The alfresco garden pool restaurant is ideal for lunch, where culinary delights meet poolside leisure. At sundown, when Marrakech’s sky flashes many colours, patrons sashay into the tent restaurant with its cocktail selections and live entertainment.

The bamboo-clad decor and sun-dappled awning of the pool garden restaurant set the mood for a long lunch with the Chef’s culinary delights. (Image Credit: Mandarin Oriental Marrakech)

Final Thoughts 

Without stepping out of the resort, one can still taste modern Marrakech by retreating into the private pool villas, escaping to the intimacy of a legendary spa, teasing one’s senses with the culinary delights of Michelin-starred chefs and enjoying the food scene that leads you to the honeyed ambience of live bands. Warm hospitality is deeply rooted in Moroccan culture and their hospitality elevates the art of hosting in the most extraordinary way possible, expressed through service and attention, making the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech one of the finest hotels in the world.

DP Loves 

  • The exclusive access to three golf clubs – The Royal Golf Club, AI Madden Golf Club and Amelkis Golf Club of Marrakech next to the resort for golfers passionate about the game. 
  • The private pool villa and jacuzzi are the epitome of unparalleled luxury and breathtaking views.
  • The Dyson hair styler in the dressing room to achieve salon-level results. 
  • The outdoor Shirvan bar overlooking the serene pools is ideal for enjoying their signature aperitif cocktails.
  •  The ‘Potager Experience’ includes an organic meal at the farm garden followed by cooking classes and mixology workshops.
  •  The spa lounge designed in Andalusian-Berber decor calls for a soothing cup of mint tea after a relaxing spa. 
  • An e-bike tour around the resort’s 20 hectares of green expanse.