30 Jul2010

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We were celebrating three major private milestones, one each for the Teen, Mrs. MM and Marketman. So we booked three days at Amanjena, a little bit of “heaven on earth” just outside the city of Marrakech. I should say upfront that we were once bonafide Amanjunkies, and in the 1990’s, we stayed at several of their small but exquisite hotel properties in Asia and one in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We haven’t stayed at an Aman for nearly 10 years, though we managed a lunch at Amansara in Siem Reap, and that’s just been too long of a gap… Sometimes they say it’s more about the journey than the destination. In this case, for three days, it was almost entirely about the destination – Amanjena – a “peaceful paradise” indeed.

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The Teen had been warned that we were going to “rough it” in Morocco. Our home stay with local Berber hosts in a modest clay abode at the base of the Atlas mountains was to be rustic and calm. We were all to share a room with bunk beds (which she dislikes) but I had agreed to take the upper bunk while Mrs. MM and The Teen could have the lower bunks… but the lower bunks would be more accessible to large creepy crawlies from the rugged landscape outdoors. Food was to be cooked on open fires and we were to accept graciously anything laid before us. This was all delivered in a serious tone, and the Teen, a good sport, was game for an adventure, but clearly a bit concerned about the next few days. We did this on purpose so we could spring a surprise on her…

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After an uneventful flight, packed like sardines, from Madrid to Marrakech, we cleared customs (one of the few countries where Filipinos don’t need a visa outside the ASEAN and South America!) and waited at the baggage carousel. Just seconds after our bags emerged, a porter grabbed our luggage and whisked us to the arrival area where a greeter from Amanresorts walked up to us and said “Welcome to Marrakech, Mr. Marketman…” to which, the Teen, still clueless, said “Dad, how nice, that guy remembers you from Bali or something…” and seconds later just beyond the curb of the rather retro looking terminal building painted white (that doubled as the terminal in “Abu Dhabi” where the four actresses in Sex and The City 2 stood as their Maybach limousines pulled up), our dark green Mercedes 4WD and chauffeur was waiting. Luggage loaded, Mrs. MM and Teen in the back seat, they were given cold towels, drinks and could nosh on dates, nuts and other goodies while we drove 15 minutes to the hotel. The Teen knew at this point she had been bamboozled. Pleasantly bamboozled. If you harbor ill will on those who indulge in hotel luxury every once in a while, stop reading now. Nasty comments will not be tolerated. :)

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Amanjena is a hotel with just 40 or so rooms/suites. Located on perhaps 3+ hectares of land, it is the modern equivalent of my vision of parched bedouins riding up to an oasis on their camels after days lost in the desert. You are greeted by hotel management at the entrance, walk past several fountains with hundreds of rose petals floating on the water’s surface, and you get a glimpse of the large bassin or pool or reservoir of water that is the center of the hotel. Immaculately landscaped gardens with dozens and dozens of date palms, olive trees and various greens make this seem lush and cool, despite temperatures that could easily rise beyond 50C at the height of summer.

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The place appeared empty, despite some 20+ of the suites being occupied, so you really felt like you had a little palace all to yourselves, with only an occasional sighting of other guests around meal times. While most avid fans of the movie Sex and The City 2 (SATC2) are probably aware that many scenes were shot at the new and then unopened Mandarin hotel (it has since opened) outside Marrakech, and that Sarah Jessica Parker had stayed at the recently renovated La Mamounia in town, most folks were unaware that several scenes of the movie were actually filmed at Amanjena, and two of the actresses stayed at Amanjena during filming. This was trivia that was amusing for The Teen, and she was later to recognize parts of the hotel in the film…

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Shallow reflecting pools that were some 100+ meters long and wide pathways made their way around the hotel and all rooms were laid out like villas and just outside the hotel property there were olive groves and a golf course.

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Some folks might find the Aman formula a bit boring, but count us as huge, huge fans. If you really just want to vege and be pampered without being waited on, Aman is the way to go.

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Everywhere you looked in the resort’s rose-hued walls, blue reflecting pools, swimming pools, restaurants, spas, luxurious tents, etc. looked a bit like a movie set, but this was a real functioning hotel. There were always lots of staff on hand, but you never seemed to see them when they weren’t needed.

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A long reflecting pool…

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…a small stand of olive trees…

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…the gorgeous swimming pool, heated in winter…

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…and devoid of guests the entire stay we were at the hotel. Probably because the rooms were so comfortable, no one ventured out to the public areas… Next up, our suite. For more on Amanresorts, visit their website, here.

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Teresa says:

    OMG I am loving all the photos, just like the ones seen in architectural books. Literally no soul in sight! I cant wait for the upcoming posts!!!

    Jul 30, 2010 | 5:21 pm

     
  2. junb says:

    Who don’t want luxuries if you can afford it ;) …. For the next few days post we will all feel as if we’ve been there…Thanks MM for sharing it to us!

    Jul 30, 2010 | 5:23 pm

     
  3. denise says:

    i love the rose-filled fountain…the amanjena looks more pleasant and relaxing than the emirates palace hotel (btw the emirates palace in the satc 2 movie is not the real hotel as well, even the outside shot of the hotel was fake!)

    Jul 30, 2010 | 6:24 pm

     
  4. chinachix says:

    Looking at these photographs alone is such a relaxing treat!

    Btw, I know you are a big Aman fan, but have you tried staying at a Banyan Tree property? The hubby and I were debating between staying at a BT or an Aman resort for our honeymoon years ago.

    Jul 30, 2010 | 7:35 pm

     
  5. Footloose says:

    Nasty comments not tolerated, darn. I was just about to slip on my anti-elitist indignation mantle. But this actually looks lovely though so unlike hubristically vulgar Dubai which elicited a rare fit of Schadenfreude in me when the consortium behind the development defaulted.

    Jul 30, 2010 | 9:01 pm

     
  6. millet says:

    woohoo! bunking with a Berber family indeed!

    Jul 30, 2010 | 9:36 pm

     
  7. rex says:

    This place is a photographer’s paradise. There are many patterns and symmetry around. The reflecting pools at night would a good subject for long exposures. Nice photos.

    Jul 30, 2010 | 9:44 pm

     
  8. joyce says:

    gorgeous.i cant how the food must be

    Jul 30, 2010 | 11:02 pm

     
  9. Tricia says:

    Love this post! I’ve only read about Amanjena from the newsletter Aman sends to us. Other than the Wyoming property they have in the US, there is a new Aman in Utah: http://ifitshipitshere.blogspot.com/search/label/travel

    Jul 31, 2010 | 12:11 am

     
  10. Ellie Marie says:

    Every Teen could only hope for such a wonderful bamboozlement!

    Jul 31, 2010 | 6:49 am

     
  11. farida says:

    Wonderful posts, MM. Am green with envy. Can’t wait for the rest of your posts.

    Jul 31, 2010 | 11:00 am

     
  12. present tense says:

    Our Tourism Department could use an Adrian Zecha or two

    Jul 31, 2010 | 1:37 pm

     
  13. erika lim says:

    it’s awesome!

    Jul 31, 2010 | 6:19 pm

     
  14. Betchay says:

    Love the rose petals! :)

    Jul 31, 2010 | 7:36 pm

     
  15. Ley says:

    Love love love all your travel posts!

    Aug 1, 2010 | 3:50 pm

     
  16. Jen Laceda says:

    Gorgeous indeed! I actually love having a hotel all to myself…it’s like being a queen of the castle! LOL! I love the olive grove as well! I have a secret desire to be an olive farmer and oil maker :) Please post some more photos from your adventure!

    Aug 1, 2010 | 10:34 pm

     
  17. becky says:

    love love the reflecting pool. seems so luxurious if you’ve got one in your place..hehe

    Aug 2, 2010 | 9:03 am

     
  18. terrey says:

    i so love this….no nasty comments here! :-)

    Aug 3, 2010 | 4:27 pm

     
  19. Irene says:

    This is heaven on earth :)

    Aug 4, 2010 | 12:21 am

     
 

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