Whilst throughly enjoying being situated so close to the Medina and Jemaa el Fna square I felt the need to escape on a couple of the days whilst I was in Marrakech, mainly due to the 40 degree heat they were experiencing in early September! I love the sunshine as much as any other sun worshipper but the humidity and heat combination was becoming too much, so I had wisely pre booked some time away from the Medina in the form of two pool days. The pool scene in Marrakech is definitely on the rise, there are also many choices and new venues popping up all of the time. I have on previous visits tried out a few of them, such as Nikki Beach which has locations all around the world and the Sex & the City 2 film was actually filmed in there too!
Due to celebrating my 6th wedding anniversary and my husbands birthday while we were here in Morocco, I thought booking a relaxing day around a pool was a perfect idea, win win! Mandarin Oriental Marrakech was the anniversary choice, as we had previously visited this hotel to eat and drink and we wanted to see what their ‘pool garden’ was like. After researching online, yes I love to pre plan as much as I can, I emailed the hotel and asked to book a day at the pool. They respond quickly and politely offering a “pool pass”, this included entry to the pool garden for the day (9.30 am till 7pm) with a three course lunch at the poolside restaurant, waiter service around the pool and free WIFI, music to a bloggers ears!! The cost was 650 DHS per person, as it was a special occasion I pre booked. On the day of arrival we took a taxi from the Riad to the Mandarin Oriental which is situated at the Route du Golf Royal, around 25/30 minutes from the centre of Marrakech.
As you drive into the hotel you immediately feel the luxury of your surroundings and the entrance is show stopping with a tree planted in the middle of a giant water feature as a central focus along with two pillared walls that stand either side when you look back at it. As you walk a red carpet into the hotel, your expectations are sky high. We went to the reception area, which is stylishly decorated, we told them we had reservations for the pool pass, to which we were ushered outside towards the pool garden.
The staff at the pool were very friendly and attentive, checking you alright and had everything you needed. We were seated on a double sun lounger with an umbrella incase you needed some shade, I was asked if I wanted some magazines and given the drinks, lunch menus to browse. We ordered some cocktails, I had a mojito which was lovely and served perfectly. This resort is large and has amazing grounds, you would never feel over crowded or cramped as there is so much space. Our day was spent relaxing, swimming and working up an appetite for lunch, we enjoyed a late lunch around 2 pm when the sun was at it’s hottest and took some shelter under the poolside restaurant’s umbrellas.
More cocktails were ordered to toast the day, this time a gin cocktail which was delicious! We were served some hot bread rolls with an assortment of dips, including some freshly hand picked tomatoes from their grounds. Lunch was a delight, the food was perfectly cooked and presented well. You could choose what you wished off the menu as it wasn’t set, which I was pleased about. I ordered the Avocado and king prawn salad with grapefruit to start, the taste was refreshing and the portion was generous. For main I had the Monkfish medallions with green asparagus which was divine, the monkfish was meaty and it was a delight to eat! My husband had the same starter as me, followed by the Seabass which was the ‘catch of the day’ that was deboned in front of us. The fish came with assortment of vegetables and mashed potato. After a starter and main course we were stuffed, so we opted to have some dessert later by the pool.
Enjoying the late afternoon sun, we were offered chilled fruit kebabs and cool flannels to refresh ourselves, taking another dip in the large pool in front of us. We were offered our desserts by our bed and opted for an assortment of ice cream and sorbets, perfect in the moroccan heat. As the day drew to a close we settled the bill and went to change as we were eating at Ling Ling, a part of the Hakkasan Group within the Mandarin Oriental resort that evening to which more will follow later. If you are celebrating a birthday or any special occasion a pool pass here is certainly a treat and a nice memory to have.
Palais Aziza and Spa Marrakech sits in the exclusive palm grove “La Palmeraie” area, it was our choice for Adam’s birthday, again I had pre planned this by email very easy to do and the staff were very obliging at the hotel. The ‘pool pass’ was 350 DHS per person, it included lunch and free WIFI along with entry to the pool (10am-7pm). It took about twenty minutes from our Riad to arrive, a perfect place to stay if you want to be nearby the souks but away from the hustle and bustle. As we pulled up you could tell this was a upmarket area with many nearby properties being holiday homes to some of the world’s richest, footballers and celebrities alike.
Palais Aziza from first glance offers an oasis of elegant luxury, with pure relaxation guaranteed. We went to reception and explained we were here for a pool day, they took us out to the pool area and we were seated. The staff were faultless at this hotel, we ordered drinks GnT’s and were constantly checked on to see if we needed some more ice for our drinks or water, I knew straight away this was going to be pleasant experience! Due to the heat, I spent a lot of time in the pool, there were two and it was a spacious area. Unlike a lot of hotels or resorts, you could hear yourself think at Palais Aziza and it was delightful to see Peacocks strolling around their grounds along with some baby kittens who were so cute.
Lunch was taken around 2 ish due to the day’s heat and we wandered up the steps to the restaurant, La Pergola, which was only a stones’s throw from the pool. The idea of the restaurant was ”La pergola cuisine du soleil is our original concept offering light al fresco dining”. It was delightful, water was misted upon you whilst you browsed the menu and took in the views. I was surprised again to see the menu was free choice and not set. As we chose we were served hot breads and a olive tapenade, which was delicious. Adam opted for the Caesar salad with grilled chicken, quail eggs, marinated anchovies, croutons and parmesan shavings, followed by the Roasted chicken shawarma with french fries and a light salad, I had the Tomato & buffalo mozzarella salad with pesto, basil and rocket, then Spaghetti with mussels, cherry tomatoes and a dry white wine along with a glass of chilled Rose. I had room for a dessert and had the delightful Josper grilled banana with honey, pistachios and ice cream, need I say anymore… The food was all to a very high standard, their portion sizes were huge!
After lunch we relaxed and nodded off under the sun, enjoying some sundowners before we left and paid the bill. I would recommend Palais Aziza to everyone, due firstly to it’s relaxed feel and immediately feeling at ease, the service and food were excellent and I will certainly think about staying here on a future visit to Marrakech! We enjoyed our day at Palais Aziza and Spa so much we returned on another day before the end of our trip. It certainly gets my seal of approval.
Both the Mandarin Oriental and Palais Aziza & Spa are perfect places to enjoy some down time and relaxation away from the souks, experiencing another side of Marrakech. If anyone is going to Marrakech and wants any more info please feel free to message me on firstname.lastname@example.org