Mamounia Hotel Reopens in Marrakech

29Sep09

nm_mamounia_hotel_090928_mnWinston Churchill invited Franklin Roosevelt here to relax following strategic talks during World War II, and Alfred Hitchcock shot some of « The Man Who Knew Too Much  » in the hotel’s lobby — which has also been a haunt of the Rolling Stones, Charlie Chaplin, Sharon Stone and many other Hollywood stars for nearly a century.

Now, after a three-year, $176 million makeover, the Mamounia is opening again for business in the oasis gardens of Marrakech in southern Morocco.

A top interior designer has refurbished its rooms in Art Deco and Arabo-Andalusian styles, star-studded chefs have opened restaurants, and a sprawling spa has been added to the 20-acre gardens of palm and olive trees to lure once again the rich and the famous to this legendary hotel set inside the Medieval ramparts of a world heritage site.

« There is only three golden rules about a palace of this standing, » says Jacques Garcia, the star French decorator who led restoration efforts: « Elegance, elegance, and elegance. »

Built in 1923 when Morocco was a French protectorate, the Mamounia merges the sober lines of Art Deco architecture with the intricacies of traditional arabesque decorations. The hotel has long been considered the masterpiece of this fusion of styles, unique to a handful of Moroccan buildings.

Its great marble hall leads to shaded courtyards where the trickle of small fountains echoes amid multicolored tiling of rare refinement. The pool house copies a 17th-century princely pavilion. Here sculptures in the Moroccan Zellige mosaic style are carved all over the plaster walls, overlooking a 600-square-foot swimming pool filtered with ozone. Colonnades and corridors reminiscent of the Alhambra palace in Spain lead to the Churchill bar, complete with black and white photos of jazzmen, a panther-dotted carpet and red leather seating.

« It’s a very rare balance, » Garcia said as he toured the hotel ahead of its reopening to the public on Tuesday, Sept. 29. Restoring such a place is like touching a myth, he said. « The goal is to come back to the sources of that myth, » he said, « and give the impression that every thing here is a masterpiece. »



One Response to “Mamounia Hotel Reopens in Marrakech”

  1. Highly anticipated after the massive renovation, La Mamounia is now again the hotel of choice in Marrakesh. Will not hesitate to send any of my guests there again. Very excited.


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