November 10, 2010 in MOROCCO | Comments (1)

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Magical symmetry

Tuesday, 9 November, Amanjena, Marrakech

Marrakech is a byword in exotism, intrigue and chaos.  Or has it changed?

We haven’t arrived in chaos yet. We are starting in pure serenity.  Reclining in pure luxury.  Our room is a “pavilion” at Amanjena – and a place of perfection. With serene distance, 20 minutes from the turbulence of the Medina, Amanjena wraps you in a romantic and exotic cloak of well-being with its theme of water, rose tinted domes, palms and Moorish arches, surrounded by the green of a golf course. The resort is an interpretation of the exotism of Marrakech – architect is Ed Tuttle – and in the manner of Aman Resorts as much as possible is sourced locally both in terms of building and décor.

We arrived as all guests do nowadays at Amanjena – by complimentary VIP transfer. It was quite a decision to make, explains Mafalda, Sales Manager – as it is an expensive inclusion to give everyone a complimentary VIP transfer.  But then – all guests at Amanjena are to be VIPs from start to finish, she adds. And should perhaps be given special treatment at the price.

Before even reaching the door into the airport, we were waved into a VIP lounge.  If you knew the chaos that can be Marrakech, you would know what that means for peace of mind. Juice, water, snacks and quiet while other people run around with your passports.

Then we were shamelessly lead around the queues at passport control into the arrival hall, where both our driver and the man from the VIP lounge waited as we tried to get money from the ATM. Queues and a broken machine, meant a problem with cash lay ahead, which stalked us throughout the five days and four nights in Marrakech.

But soon we were sailing along with more snacks and mineral water in the Mercedes transfer vehicle. Exotism touched the skin with its first gentle breath, as we drove along the rosy terracotta city walls and fringing parks, with couples enjoying the benches in romance that has a mysterious touch – the girls were all wearing long gowns and headscarves or veils.

Now we are here at Amanjena. Coming down, chilling out.  It’s like being inside a giant artwork. You move to see it, to be part of it. Walking round a square central lake (bassin) reflecting domes and palms, with radiating waterways. You follow tiled walkways lined with palms, constantly meeting symmetry as you cross from one side to another. It’s meditational.  Zen…always in movement…always finding the centre.

Around the garden and everywhere there are Moroccan lanterns burning. Laid out along white stone walkways, all symmetrical. And all reflected. Except the moon – just one sickle moon…

On the way you meet friendly staff. Extraordinary. Every one gives the traditional heart signal – till you feel you must be truly warm and wonderful. Or is it all imagination? It is certainly a fantasy world created out here at Amanjena. All that is good and pure, yours if you can afford it. Or if you deserve it…

The pavilions, or rooms, like our room where I am sitting now, are painted rose-tinted terracotta and have domed roofs and private gardens. A fountain is tinkling in our very own garden, and wails of music from the Moroccan soul come from the gentle loudspeakers. Lighting superb. Everything superb.

Our bathroom is big with a separate green marble “his” basin and a “hers” basin, plus a his dressing area and a hers…and a toweling dressing gown and a cashmere cloak each for colder nights, and terry slippers and flip-flops (big flops and dainty little flops) laid out by the bath with view of the back courtyard and orange trees. In our front courtyard garden we have two sunbeds, with a her hat and a his hat (out of straw). Plus a huge white sofa under an open pavilion in the courtyard. And all the time the music gently wails from the soul and the fountain tinkles…

I am sitting here knowing I don’t want to forget these perfect moments…

Terres Rouges wine laid out with glasses as welcome amenity, tastes very rich and good.

Amanjena has three restaurants – a casual one around the pool, a Thai restaurant, and a French Moroccan. But the most popular dining place is actually in your own accommodation. I can understand that. It feels like your own private kingdom – even at the “starting” level of a pavilion you have that magical courtyard garden with orange trees, colourful bougainvillea and palms, and can take your pick of reclining on the vast sofa or sitting at the garden table, while the fountain tinkles.

We chose the poolside restaurant for lunch. The price of one of my best aubergine dishes ever (layered with cheese, tomato and herbs) was only 140 dirnham. And eaten in the sun by the pool, where as the day got hotter people peeled off garments and lay on sunbeds.

In the evening we (or rather I) vacillated between the Thai and the Moroccan. The Thai waitresses were so smiling and friendly despite my pickiness over the lack of vegetarian options, but the music was canned and a little too jolly, while the Moroccan had the allure of live Moroccan music, rich, soft, stirring and melancholy. I chose the ambience of the Moroccan for couscous with vegetables 260 dirnham.

Though Amanjena was 65% occupied, you hardly saw a soul. Either dining romantically in the accommodation or doing the big Marrakech thing at the Square, as we will discover soon…

Afterwards we walked around the serene and magical property, it was so heart rendingly romantic. Lamps reflected in the bassin. Again we were walking along paths weaving in and out in perfect symmetry, white stones in the moonlight, pale tiles, and the moon.

Appropriately…the sickle moon.

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