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October, 2012:

Marrakech via La Mamounia

James Andrew at La Mamounia - photo Gabriel Everett

James Andrew at La Mamounia - photo Gabriel Everett


With its authentic Moroccan architecture, decoration, gardens, and cuisine, it’s hard to find a compelling reason to leave the grounds of La Mamounia. Indeed we did meet a few guests at the hotel who hadn’t set foot beyond La Mamounia’s walls! Being ever curious however, WIJW did feel the need to explore and experience some of the significant palaces and historical sites that Marrakech has to offer.

As many of our readers know, I’m always looking to expand my visual palette and I can tell you the experience in Marrakech will definitely affect the decorative narrative I’ll be capable of offering my clients in the future. In fact I’m feeling positively inspired!

Bahia Palace - photo Gabriel Everett

Bahia Palace - photo Gabriel Everett

One of our favorite sites was Bahia Palace, which is the only royal palace here that is open to the public. Despite having been stripped of many of its details over the years, one still can get a good sense of the lavish Moroccan craftsmanship that once surrounded the Sultans and Pashas.

El-Badi Palace - photo Gabriel Everett

El-Badi Palace - photo Gabriel Everett


The El-Badi Palace is another must see—this 16th century structure was built by Ahmad al-Mansur to celebrate a victory over the Portuguese. The palace became known as “The Incomparable.” Although what remains of it today pales in comparison to what it once was, the quality of its original decoration still reveals itself here and there in all of its magnificence. The palace was designed with an incredible 360 rooms, a huge inner courtyard and four sunken gardens separated by gorgeous reflecting pools.

Parts of the palace have been restored and one is struck by its strangely contemporary appearance—it’s pretty clear where the Amanjena Hotel designers got much of their inspiration!

A quick 5 minute taxi ride from our Palace excursion, and we were back to La Mamounia to relax and reflect on the rich history of this exotic land.

Enjoying one of the many fabulous fountains at La Mamounia (top), I’m dressed for a bit of exploration. I’m sporting a Tom Ford era Gucci khaki cotton safari shirt, white cotton shorts by Mario Matteo, Gucci python belt with silver buckle, aviator sunglasses, Tom Ford brown suede tasseled loafers, vintage Rolex watch, and my fragrance is Creed Orange Spice.

Ravishing Rooms at La Mamounia

James Andrew at  La Mamounia - photo Gabriel Everett

James Andrew at La Mamounia - photo Gabriel Everett

In preparation for travel, I always do some rather extensive research to find the finest hotel options, and I seek out in particular those hotels that ignite my imagination while capturing the essence of a place. In anticipation of our trip to Morocco, I had been envisioning the interiors Bill Willis did for the Gettys, Rothschilds, Agnellis, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge, and so I was quite pleased to see a hint of Willis in esteemed designer Jacques Garcia’s recent transformation of La Mamounia.

In his own unique take on Moroccan opulence, Garcia has extensively overhauled what what was essentially an Art Deco space, bringing back more traditional Moroccan elements such as painted wood, Gebs, Zelliges and Marble in the most glorious mix of colors and patterns.

La Mamounia

La Mamounia

Our spectacularly palatial suite of rooms were the most perfectly luxurious retreat after a day of exploration, and the two balconies provided us with beautiful views of the park, the city of Marrakech, and the Atlas mountains beyond. One truly had the sensation of being a guest in one of the aforementioned style icons’ private homes.

La Mamounia

La Mamounia

Taking a few moments before heading out to dinner, I’m pictured at top basking in the magnificence of life at La Mamounia.

I’m sporting a Tom Ford era Gucci white linen jacket, dusty rose linen and silk kaftan style sweater, python belt with silver buckle, Tom Ford beige, ivory, and brown silk pocket square, sand colored suede loafers, vintage Rolex watch, and my fragrance is Creed Original Cologne.

Journey to Marrakech – La Mamounia Welcomes Us

James Andrew - La Mamounia Royal Gardens - photo Gabriel Everett

James Andrew - La Mamounia Royal Gardens - photo Gabriel Everett

Growing up in the 70’s, I’d often come across amazing images of ultra-jet-setters like Yves Saint Laurent, Paul and Talitha Getty, Marie-Helen de Rothschild and Marella Agnelli vacationing in Marrakech. Needless to say, the place captured my imagination…and I’ve had wild fantasies about it ever since!

I’m thrilled to say my Moroccan dreams have now been fulfilled at the mythic hotel La Mamounia (which happened to be the hotel of choice for many of said iconic travelers)!

Originally a pleasure retreat built in the 18th century by the Moroccan Sultan Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah for his son, Prince Mamoun, it was later transformed from private riad into a hotel by the occupying French. Set amid twenty acres of glorious gardens in the heart of Medina, La Mamounia, (which has been renovated to perfection by Jacques Garcia), envelopes one in a rich and opulent history while offering all of the amenities befitting its well deserved five stars.

As the saying goes, God is in the details, and I can tell you everything at La Mamounia is designed to transport one to exotic heavenly realms—from the traditional glass of almond milk and dates one receives upon arrival, to the signature scent created by Olivia Giacobetti with notes of cedar and date, to the traditional Moroccan-inspired attire worn by the staff.

After settling into our suite of rooms, I unwound in the beautiful park/gardens. Surrounding walls offer a welcome respite from the chaotic hustle and bustle of the outside world. Rows of fragrant fruit trees surround one in this cooling green oasis, and there is even an organic vegetable garden on the grounds, providing the hotel’s chefs with fresh produce to chose from in creating some rather sublime cuisine. Soaking up all the sensational sights and smells, I’m pictured (top) channeling my Yves Saint Laurent au Marocaine fantasy. I’m wearing a white cotton Gucci safari jacket, Tom Ford pink and white polka dot cotton voile scarf, Uniqlo white jeans, Gucci python belt with silver buckle, leather and woven fabric, flip flops, aviator style sun glasses, pink and white mini cotton stripe shirt with gross grain ribbon trim by Alexander McQueen, and my fragrance is Creed Orange Spice.