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Farewell to the Magnificent La Mamounia

James Andrew at La Mamounia

James Andrew at La Mamounia

Sadly our short series on Morocco has come to a close, but the magic and exotic beauty of La Mamounia remain with me even as I write this here in NYC. Our stay truly surpassed all of our expectations and fantasies—a very rare thing, we might add! I do feel we’ve barely scratched the surface, but perhaps it’s better to offer a tease rather than giving it all away — isn’t that the number one rule of seduction? Of course, if you want to see more, La Mamounia awaits. Why not pay her a visit!?

Only Jaguar will do for a trip to the Airport

Only a Jaguar will do for a trip to the Airport.

We’re eternally grateful to all the people at La Mamounia who made this experience so remarkable and a special acknowledgment is due to my dear friend, the brilliant photographer Gabriel Everett whose photographs have helped transport us to this other-worldly land.

Photographed in one of La Mamounia’s private courtyards (top), I’m thanking the universe for my many blessings! I’m sporting a Tom Ford pale pink silk suit, sand colored suede loafers, a Gucci palest pink silk butterfly print shirt, python belt, vintage Rolex watch, brown silk pocket square, and my fragrance is Creed Original Cologne.

La Maison Arabe

James Andrew with Prince Fabrizio Ruspoli di Poggio Suasa - Photo Gabriel Everett

A lively conversation. James Andrew with Prince Fabrizio Ruspoli di Poggio Suasa - The painting is of the Prince's grandfather, Prince Edmondo - photograph by Gabriel Everett

Our exploration of Marrakech via La Mamounia had some truly unforgettable moments. One of particular note was being able to experience first hand the renowned La Maison Arabe.

In the wake of WII, French sisters Suzy and Helene Sebillon-Larochette found themselves stranded in Marrakech with limited funds. The Pasha came to their rescue, enabling them to purchase the property—he even went so far as to give them one of his best palace chefs! In 1946, La Maison Arabe opened its doors to wild success—and soon it was reservations only, and a requisite twenty-fours hours advance notice for placing orders. Word quickly spread abroad—garnering rave reviews from New York critics and attracting major figures; Winston Churchill, who was a long-time patron at La Mamounia (he even has a rather famous bar named after him there), often dined at La Maison Arabe. Queen Ingrid of Denmark and our beloved Jackie O., among many others, frequented La Maison Arabe as well. Having had a long-standing love affair with Morocco, Prince Fabrizio Ruspoli di Poggio Suasa purchased the restaurant in 1995 and re-opened three years later — he now continues to uphold its great legacy.

After pre-dinner drinks inside at La Maison Arabe (we were seated at Churchill’s favorite spot), we headed outside for a delightful dinner poolside accompanied by the exotic strains of live Arabo-Andalusian music. We’re pleased to say that the very elegant Prince Fabrio Ruspoli (who graciously took the time to sit with us) has created a wonderfully authentic and yet innovative dining experience at La Maison Arabe — simply not to be missed!

La Maison Arabe

La Maison Arabe

La Mamounia, Marrakech, and the Jardin Majorelle

James Andrew at La Mamounia

James Andrew at La Mamounia - photo Gabriel Everett

As one might imagine, there quite a few must-sees in Marrakech, but for those YSL fans out there, the magnificent Jardin Majorelle ranks quite high amongst them. Jardin Majorelle is a beautiful twelve acre botanical garden surrounding French painter Jacques Majorelle’s splendid 1931 Art deco style villa and workshop. The garden is host to numerous nesting birds and countless exotic and rare plantings from around the world, all set beautifully amongst cooling water features, painted pathways, and an assortment of garden follies. In 1937 Majorelle created a wildly high-chroma ultramarine blue: now known as Majorelle blue (predating International Klein Blue, IKB, by a couple of decades), and used it throughout his property and garden, transforming all into a “living tableau” (an apt description from the Fondation PB-YSL website) which he opened to the public in 1947.

Majorelle died in 1962, and the garden fell into a state of neglect until in 1980 Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent acquired the property (saving it from near destruction at the hands of developers). They lovingly restored the gardens, bringing in the brilliant designer Bill Willis to create an entrance courtyard, gift shop, and cafe, as well as a delightful Berber museum.

James Andrew at Jardin Majorelle - photo Gabriel Everett

James Andrew at Jardin Majorelle - photo Gabriel Everett

Happily for us, the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent now continues the rather monumental task of tending and preserving this evolving masterpiece. On your visit, be sure to take a break at the super chic courtyard Café Bousafsaf, and then perhaps peruse the Boutique Majorelle and Museum Book shop. We picked up Pierre Bergé’s book “Une Passion Marocain” as well as a book on the legendary interior designer Bill Willis.

An interesting related note: In the 1920’s Majorelle decorated part of La Mamounia, the Majorelle Gallery, which remains a vestige to the past and showcases the brilliance of this artist.

In Memorium Yves Saint Laurent

In Memorium Yves Saint Laurent

Several spectacular internal courtyards decorated with a mix of gebs, zelliges and marble, and either a fabulous fountain or a central reflecting pool, evoke a sense of the former Moroccan riad that La Mamounia Hotel was built upon (top photo). They are little havens, providing a serene place to reflect on the moment, and to appreciate the experience of being in Marrakech. After paying homage to the great Yves Saint Laurent at Jardin Majorelle, one of La Mamounia’s courtyards served as as a backdrop for today’s post, and a quiet spot to recollect YSL’s great achievements and lifestyle. In tribute, I’m wearing a Yves Saint Laurent white cotton voile tunic with a silk braided trim, Uniqlo white cotton slim cargo pant and Tom Ford “Cyrille” sunglasses and brown leather sandals, vintage Rolex watch and my fragrance is Creed Orange Spice.