Hotel Review: Tatler Checks Into… Four Seasons Resort Marrakech
A luxurious base from which to explore one of Morocco's most fabled cities, Four Seasons Resort Marrakech also offers a unique opportunity to enter the universe of the legendary fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.
Morocco's imperial city Marrakech seduces with its rich landscapes, Mediterranean climate, splendorous palaces and gardens, and mystical souks that abound with everything from silverware and leather goods to snake charmers and astrologers. Also known as the Red City, it is where celebrated fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent conceived many of his most iconic collections and eventually made his second home. "Before Marrakech, everything was black," he once said. "This city taught me colour, and I embraced its light, its insolent mixes and ardent inventions."
The luxurious Four Seasons Resort Marrakech offers a new curated experience that takes fashion devotees (or anyone with a taste for the finer things) on a journey through the lens of the famed designer, giving intrepid travellers one more good reason to check into this magnificent property.
The itinerary begins with a private tour of Villa Oasis, the designer's second home, where guests can see the paintings, objets d'art and decor that surrounded him as he conceived and drew his fashion collections. Next, wander through the charming Majorelle Garden which greatly inspired the man. During your private guided tour of the newly opened Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech, take your time to admire haute couture pieces up close and look at books on the designer's life and fashions as well as the local culture.
At the end of that, return to the resort where the F&B team will indulge your taste buds as they would a celebrated designer: with a sur mesure or tailor-made menu. Executive chef Thierry Papillier will whip up a meal based on the colours, textures and shapes that influenced Saint Laurent's designs during his time in Marrakech, Paris and Algeria, his birthplace. Savour it with exquisite Moroccan wines (yes, the country does produce its own wines!).
1. First Impressions
It is just five-minute drive away from the alluring buzz and colour of the famed Jemaa el Fna square and the city’s rich history is right at its doorstep, but cruising along the palm-fringed Boulevard de la Menara to Four Seasons Resort Marrakech, you find yourself entering a completely different realm: one of opulence, tranquility and privacy.
Inspired by the nearby medina, or old city, the main buildings evoke a Moorish palace with its courtyards and lantern-illuminated stairways, reflecting pools and fountains strewn with rose petals, palm trees and olive trees in the gardens, and intricate tiling and objets d’art that dot the public spaces. Yet there is none of the stiffness or formality sometimes experienced at an established luxury chain.
Arriving at the main building, doormen in their smart livery welcome you with the warmest smiles, as if you’re an old friend. You are then whisked into a cosy sitting area by the fireplace with leather poufs and plush carpeting underfoot. There, a staff member offers a hot glass of Moroccan mint tea, a traditional welcome gesture in any Moroccan home. It’s your first taste of a genuine hospitality and luxury that will mark your entire experience here (meanwhile, you hardly realise that the efficient staff have already arranged your check-in).
Bright and with a sense of openness, the design of the 16-hectare resort mirrors the DNA of Marrakech itself—a balance of contemporary style and influences from the past. The main buildings bear a warm ochre hue with arched doorways and windows, and if you look out from your room balcony or the alfresco dining area of Inara Lounge, you’ll be impressed by the beautiful network of gardens, pools, buildings and walkways.
2. Do Not Disturb
Every guest can be assured of space and privacy here as there are only 139 rooms, 27 of which are suites. Each room offers a different experience, from spacious double rooms with views of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains or the historic Menara Gardens next door to intimate pavilion suites with private plunge pools.
Large bathrooms, walk-in closets and comfortable beds that promise a good night’s rest are just some of the creature comforts but it’s the freshly-cut roses in the living area and bathroom that really win you over and set the tone for a pampering experience. Every room has a private balcony with comfortable sun loungers that invite you to soak up the view.
The most premium of the accommodation options, the 452sqm Royal Villa has four ensuite bedrooms surrounding a lap-sized pool, four full-marble bathrooms, a guest powder room, private terraces and a central salon. An eight-person whirlpool spa pool, private barbecue area and your own private chef and butler service promise a spectacular stay for larger groups.
3. The Extras
Honeymooners in particular will find this a perfect place to connect with each other. There are plenty of nooks around the property where they can just be one with each other, from private cabanas at the adults-only pool where you can sip cocktails while basking in the sun (the team keeps you refreshed with fresh fruit, cool drinks and fresh towels, and there’s also a station where you can get sunscreen), to the idyllic rooftop of Le Spa where you can have your own bespoke morning yoga session (instructor Jessica Satherley, whose clothing brand Bed Beach Yoga retails at the resort boutique, will put together a sequence of breathing exercises, stretching and a lavender head massage that’ll get you revved up for the day ahead).
For something of competitive nature, hit the tennis courts, but if it’s the aromas and flavours of Morocco you are after, consider a private cooking class where one of the resort’s chefs will reveal the secrets of whipping up classics such as melt-in-your-mouth meat tagines, fluffy couscous and delicate almond-scented pastries.
Don’t leave the resort without authentic Moroccan pampering at the world-class Le Spa which offers hammam steam baths and treatments inspired by centuries-old beauty rituals that use local ingredients such as argan oil, eucalyptus, saffron, rose, olive, orange and ghassoul clay. Most of the 15 treatment rooms, including the two couple suites that have an outdoor bathtub in a private garden, feature outdoor terraces that add to the healing ambience. Before your treatment, enjoy the plunge pools and sauna.
Children are much loved in Morocco, and especially at the family- and pet-friendly Four Seasons Resort Marrakech. Adjoining rooms accord both parents and their little ones their own privacy. Guests under 12 will be greeted with a bespoke in-room amenity that’s sure to excite even adults: a platter of assorted fruit and nuts, cakes and pastries, chips, lollies as well as juices and chilled fruit tea.
They can then expend their energy at the family pool or head to the Kids Club, their mini kasbah where they can go on a treasure hunt or participate in cooking or art and craft sessions. Teens will head to the Young Adult Centre where they can play basketball, table tennis, pool, video games or board games with their peers, or watch a movie in the theatre. Pet pooches are welcome, too, provided they are under 15 pounds. They get their own bed, and water and food bowl!
4. Food and Beverage
No matter which of the food and beverage outlets you choose to dine at, you can be assured of a feast for the senses, from the quality seasonal produce to the elegant presentation to the mouth-watering aromas and delightful taste and textures.
For breakfast, head to the recently opened Quattro. Alongside the international buffet spread comprising cold cuts, salads, fruit, eggs, bacon and baked beans as well as a wide range of breads and cakes. You can also order traditional Moroccan fare such as harira, a hearty lentil soup served with lemon and dates, and shakshuka, a comfort dish of baked eggs in tomato sauce. Smartly attired servers who speak British-accented English deliver impeccable service.
Ask for a bottle of freshly-squeezed orange juice or customise your own fruit juice at the juice bar. Come sunset, Quattro morphs into a sophisticated dining room serving Southern Italian cuisine. Watch the chefs in action from the open kitchen as you savour standout dishes accompanied with fine wines.
Over at the pool-facing alfresco restaurant Azzera, the vibe is entirely different. Lively chatter from a crowd of business associates, holidaying couples and families fills the air, punctuated by chirps from adorable native birds that dart about the surrounding olive trees. You’ll find typical brasserie fare here, from salads and sandwiches to grilled meats and boat-fresh seafood.
To savour the culinary flavours of the country, however, head to Inara for fusion-inspired Moroccan fare. Plush seating appointments indoors invite you to linger over your cocktail (one evening, we find a musician playing traditional songs too). If you prefer to dine under the stars, head outdoors where lanterns gently illuminate the night sky and conjure a romantic mood like no other.
5. Tatler Tip
From souks to palaces and historic botanical gardens, there is no lack of activities to keep the seasoned traveller inspired. Depending on your interests, the concierge at Four Seasons Resort Marrakech will tailor an itinerary to match. You could go on a hot air balloon flight that combines a spectacular sunrise over the Atlas Mountains with a picnic breakfast, learn about Berber, Jewish and Arab cultures from a personal guide on a museum tour, and take a horse-drawn carriage en route to Jemaa el Fna all in a day before dancing the night away at Le Comptoir Darna alongside graceful belly dancers.
The concierge can also organise guided day tours to a Berber village nestled in the mountains where you can dine with these original inhabitants of Morocco, or to Essaouira, a charming seaside city with a medieval-meets-bohemian vibe that is famed for being one of the filming locations for Game of Thrones. Opening the doors to such a diverse range of sights, sounds, hstory and activities to enjoy and with its top-notch amenities and inimitable hospitality, Four Seasons Resort Marrakech will leave you yearning to return to the Red City even before your stay is up.