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Monday 5 October 2015

Magical Marrakech – Travel Guide : Part II

Hopefully I'm not driving you too potty with my many boastful travel posts spanning the past few weeks. Only two more to go I promise both of which are Morocco focussed.

I bought you part I of my Marrakech travel guide a few weeks ago, if you missed it check out here. Here goes part II...

La Pause

Remember in the SATC film when Samantha, Carrie, Charlotte and Miranda all headed to the desert in fabulous flowing maxi dresses for a feast under the stars? Well La Pause, a rustic eco resort s
et amongst the landscape of the Agafay desert, offers you just that vibe and makes you feel like a real-life Carrie Bradshaw! I had read great reviews online from people saying it was 'the perfect oasis of calm' and 'a serene and tranquil heaven'. It just sounded too perfect to miss out on, so I contacted Eric, the charming manager of the resort who organised everything. 

As you can probably imagine, calm and tranquility isn't abundantly available in the heart of the city, so this little retreat is a good forty minute drive from central Marrakech, off the beaten track, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. With that in mind, make sure you take full advantage of the transport pick up and drop off service La Pause offers. For €90 it's totally worth it, as quite apart from the luxury of having a chauffeur ferry you from airport arrivals to the hotel reception, I have absolutely no idea how we would have found it otherwise!

As we drove at high speed through the sandy dunes I felt nervously excited about seeing the little slice of heaven I'd read such glowing things about. I was right to feel excited. La Pause in set down in a valley and from a distance looks like a perfectly formed little matchstick village. 

It was still light when we arrived and so we were invited to climb a nearby sand dune to watch the sunset with a g&t in hand, as you do! It was a gorgeous start to a spectacular night of pure and utter indulgence.

When the sun had disappeared we begrudgingly shuffled down the dunes and were led to our private Moroccan nomad tent glittering under the starlit sky stretched overhead. Flickering lanterns and sizeable fire pits led the way - pretty but actually bloomin' hot! The copious amounts of fire dotted around wasn't just there to create a charming atmosphere but to actually light the space. Unusually, La Pause doesn't use electricity and whilst we're on the subject there's no internet service and barely any mobile reception - three of the very reasons I love it so!

We settled down with enough time for a few group selfies followed by a moment of utter terror when a dessert toad shocked my friend Helen to her very core by jumping up her leg and sliding down it stripper pole style! 

We kept our feet safely tucked underneath us from that point onwards and devoured the delicious food laid before us in a flash. utterly lip-smacking and a snip in my opinion at 135 for the 3 of us excluding beverages. I'd go back every week if I could! 

Oh did I also mention the estate-grown olive oil they produce and sell - is this place heaven or what? 

A truly special night that I will never forget with two of my best friends. Next time I want to stay overnight in the candlelit Berber tents on-site to experience the full effect of this magical place. Next time...

La Pause
+212 5244-21576

Jardin Majorelle

Normal people declare their love with peonies, Charbonnel et Walker chocolates, breakfast in bed or a beautiful pair of Jimmy Choos. Not Yves Saint Laurent. He was in love with Marrakech and gifted the Jardin Majorelle to the city to prove his affection. Saint Laurent bought the garden and on-site Art Deco style villa back in 1980 after its original owner, Jacques Majorelle passed away. He wanted to preserve his memory and vision and above all keep it open so it could continue to be enjoyed every day by the public. Later in 2008 when YSL also passed, the gardens were donated to a foundation and a memorial to the fashion designer was constructed in the garden itself. 

I was lucky enough to experience the gardens whilst I was in Marrakech and let me say, this is like no other garden you will ever experience it your lifetime ... splashes of spectacular 'Majorelle Blue' everywhere and exotic rare plants span as far as the eye can see. We followed the winding paths snaking our way around stopping off at key points for photo opportunities...

After about half an hour we had seen all there was to be seen so we headed to the art gallery and gift shop on-site where I snapped up a few postcodes to take home for Mini and HK Mouse as keepsakes...

Jardin Majorelle
Rue Yves Saint Laurent

+212 5243-13047

La Mamounia

The magic of La Mamounia is clear for anyone to see. A grand mosaic tiled arch is the first tell tale sign of the sheer decadence that awaits inside...

A hotel far beyond its 5 stars rating ... spectacular grounds in a league of their own that span 17-acres, a huge swimming pool that glitters back at you thanks to hundreds and thousands of iridescent tiles that line it's floor and hand painted ceilings from from cedar wood from the Atlas Mountains. There's many reasons behind why this hotel is a firm favourite with A-listers like Gwyneth Paltrow and Eva Mendes.

We headed to La Mamounia for the day to live like queens and see what all the hype was about. We paid for a day pass which was a bargain at just €40 which gave us access to the pool and spa. Hello hours of uninterrupted heaven stretching out in front of us!

A world away from the hustle and bustle of the souks that's for sure. After kicking back all morning in the uber comfy sun loungers, sipping on extortionately expensive champagne (£24 a glass - screammmm) but completely worth every penny and being waited on hand and foot by the super attentive poolside staff, we decided to head for some food.

The spa was also pretty spectacular too...

One piece of parting advice from me to you, check out the ice cream parlour on-site at the end of the main garden walkway - we got there too late in the day and it was closed. Biggest regret of our holiday - fact!

La Mamounia
Avenue Prince Moulay Rachid

+212 5243-88600

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