In our spring travel series, Stanley Moss looks at locations that successfully blend new and old, with his first stops treasured finds in the Atlas Mountains, Marrakech and Essaouira
photographed by Paula Sweet
Stanley Moss is travel editor of Lucire.
A modern spa at a first-class traditional resort
An easy one hour’s drive from Marrakech, set in a wooded mountain valley, a new facility for luxury indulgence will surprise you. La Roseraie Spa Retreat specializes in herbal remedies, all locally sourced. This marvellous discovery will delight on every level. The factor of comfort is optimal, and the setting and decor will enhance your experience. Luxurious cushions, blankets and rugs in the bright Berber palettes, cool cottons and artisan textures surround you. World class professionals operate the spa with highest standards and unique treatments, many which can be taken outdoors when weather permits. The little details like foot or hand massage in relax areas add to the welcoming environment. La Roseraie boasts the only salt table in Morocco, a therapeutic bed of local crystals used for exhilarating rubs. Best of all, there’s a VIP treatment room ideal for a couple, an exclusive wing of the spa featuring private bath and hammam, secluded balcony with seating under the boughs of ancient trees. Most of all, it’s your chance for indulgence, reconnection with body and spirit in a totally holistic setting. A fantastic discovery, highly recommended.
La Roseraie Spa Retreat is set in the grounds of Domaine de la Roseraie, a nostalgic resort property with sprawling rose gardens and exotic plantings. You’ll find apple, quince, plum and peach trees, cactus and herb gardens, a thousand trilling birds. This is a traditional property operated in the old style, with huge suites and very comfortable accommodations. Some private villas. Many luminaries have stayed here—you would not believe the names inscribed in the livre d’or. Mostly UK visitors, staying an average of two to three nights. Two excellent restaurants and al fresco terrace dining. Lucire will take a deeper look at this property in a later issue, so stay tuned.
Luxury rediscovered in la Kasbah
You never know what you find behind closed doors and ancient walls in la Kasbah. Friends introduced us to a sparkling new property of 12 suites, Riad Almaha, a pretty amazing place. Sleeps up to 30, huge rooms, full renovation, totally modern plumbing, impeccably decorated. All the upstairs suites have private terrace access. Once you’ve passed through the secret entrance behind a display shelf of craftsman baskets, you stray into a fusion of contemporary art with traditional craft in utterly beautiful, tranquil surroundings. A huge tiled courtyard surrounded by greenery allows fantastical leaps to an era of magnificent palaces and ultra luxury. You will love the library room with its folded-page book art. The Pixel Room with its massive mosaic walls of diamond shaped upholstered pieces resembles no place you have ever seen before. There’s even a private tiled pool tucked away in its own corner on the roof. Below ground level you’ll discover an elegant hammam and spa.
This is definitely a discreet and private riad experience, and one whose exclusivity is meant to be enjoyed privately. We recommend taking over the whole property and inviting a group of friends. Two small downsides: it’s well hidden in a location which requires a driver or at least a guide, even though it is no more than a 10-minute walk from the Jmaa Al Fnaa—you don’t want to be wandering the Kasbah’s labyrinthine streets in your eveningwear; and though the property has an outstanding kitchen with 24-hour room service, there’s no restaurant, and the public isn’t allowed. Almaha transports you, there is no doubt, and we definitely want to stay there.
Ministers of Taste
Alessandra Lippini and Fabrizio Bizzarri are an expatriated Italian power couple who have lived and worked in Morocco for the last 20 years. She’s a former style editor of Vogue Italia, and he is a visionary architect. Together they have realized a group of amazing projects under their Ministero del Gusto business banner. Their gallery in the Marrakech medina, near the Mosque Moassine is a required stop (appointment only) on the art tourism circuit, and their many residential and hotel projects are the mythological stuff you find in coffee-table books with titles like Marrakech Style and Elegant Moroccan Homes. Today the duo handles a full complement of projects for both corporate and private clients. We visited a number of their works, inspired by their respect for heritage, love of materials, Italian sensibility. Their latest project, a total rebuild of a classic riad in the beach city of Essaouira demonstrates a level of virtuosity and fidelity rarely seen. It’s all about vision, and the projects of Lippini and Bizzari always transcend. •
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