Magical Marrakech 

Marrakech is an exotic mix of peaceful palm-lined gardens and tranquil courtyard fountains with the raucous energy of a city bursting with color and teeming with life.

The most visited city in the Kingdom of Morocco, Marrakech has a mesmerizing effect.  British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill called it “The loveliest spot in the world” and fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent proclaimed, “Marrakech introduced me to color.” Today this modern metropolis of wide boulevards, luxury resorts, and a beautiful new airport beckons visitors to discover the old and new.

I was pretty happy to visit Marrakech after breaking my left wrist just one week before the trip. My orthopedist thoughts? She said, “Go!”

Marrakech is an ancient walled city of pink ramparts punctuated by the towering 12thcentury Koutoubia Mosque minaret. At sunset the call to prayer envelopes the city air, a magical sound I looked forward to hearing every day.

A tour is an eye-popping experience of opposites. Donkey carts share the road with Ferraris.  Shoppers find caftans and couture. Jet-setters flock to glamorous nightclubs while the UNESCO listed medina, Jemaa El Fna Square, is literally jumping with acrobats, snake charmers, trained monkeys, and Berber musicians.

So much in common including our two broken left wrists! With my guide, Mustapha Chouquir. Follow him on Instagram! @mustaphachouquir Madonna does. (:

But it’s what beyond unassuming wooden doors in the twisting maze of the marketplace or behind a plain exterior wall along a busy street that the city’s true heart reveals itself.

Step inside to find a riad, a traditional dwelling with trickling fountains in a quiet courtyard, intricately tiled interiors from floor to ceiling, and steps that lead to rooftop gardens and views of the city below. Olive trees and date palms lead the way to the swimming pool and an award-winning spa. I’m standing in the foyer of the Royal Mansour hotel’s beautiful spa with a calming decor framed by huge ironwork walls in white lace pattern.

The design of the Royal Mansour Marrakech Hotel includes 53 private riad residences ranging from one to four bedrooms. Commissioned by King Mohammed VI himself, each impressive riad is ‘royalty ready’ with three stories of elegant custom made furnishings, state of the art touch screen technology as well as rooftop plunge pools and fireplaces.  This showplace property took over 1,000 craftsmen three years to complete with serenity and beauty at every mosaic tiled turn.

I couldn’t get enough of the mosaic tile art – everywhere!

Restaurants at the Royal Mansour feature a fabulous introduction to the best of traditional Moroccan cuisine such as flavorful slow-cooked tagines as well as contemporary dishes featuring Mediterranean seafood.

Don’t miss sampling the wines of Morocco, especially when chosen by one of the hotel’s knowledgeable sommeliers. And no matter what time of day, end your meal with a soothing cup of Moroccan mint tea.

Morrocan tea is poured from a height to help aerate the tea with more oxygen and liven all of the subtle flavors. Let’s try this at home!

Another regal touch for guests is the exclusive access the Royal Mansour grants to private experiences in Marrakech including a thrilling vintage motorcycle sidecar tour led by an amazingly enthusiastic and safety minded team from Insiders Experience founded by Thomas Chabrieres.

Hold on for the ride! Even with a broken wrist in a cast, I joined the desert touring adventures safely in the sidecar!

We buzzed along roads and alleyways and busy streets to visit the meticulously curated home of perfumer Serge Lutens (no photos allowed but they did serve tea) and the fantastical gardens of Dar El Sadaka.  I guarantee you’ve never seen anything like this, and that was my opinion before they served wine with lunch.

The playful and fantastical art of Jean-Francois Fourtou adds life and laughter to the gardens and houses of Dar el Sadaka.

Of course, we stopped to meet some camels!

Not to be missed: One of the newest attractions in Marrakech is the Musée Yves Saint Laurent which showcases key pieces from the couturier’s vibrant design collections. Guests of Royal Mansour enjoy free entry and we were toured through the exhibit by the curator!

Shhh.. I took this photo of a classic Yves Saint Laurent dress before I was scolded. Didn’t know!

I’m not wearing YSL, but everyone seems to take this photo when they visit the museum. I may be the first to strike the Y pose.

The YSL Museum is next to the Jardin Majorelle, a must see botanical garden restored by Saint Laurent.

More On Marrakech- The Mediterranean Diet and all of it’s happy and healthy flavors!

Morrocan cuisine is a fabulous celebration of nature’s boldest flavors served in an elegant mindful way from breakfast to cocktails,

Non-alcoholic beverages are important in a Muslim nation and the delicate ways that citrus and other fruits flavor thirst quenching drinks are so appreciated in this desert climate.

Fresh seafood and a small piece of roasted chicken is just right for a bite of lunch. There’s butter on the table in this French-influenced country but most foods are cooked with olive oil.

So let’s toast to marvelous, magical Marrakech and I am adding a special thank you to my hosts at The Royal Mansour Hotel.

Even if you don’t stay there, please pop in for the hotel’s impressive Sunday brunch…………

…or hang poolside to share an Asian inspired lunch menu with traveling friends.

Also, read about Marrakech Magic in Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Magazine March issue!