Zak Smith soaks in the sights of the riyadhs and the sounds of the souks in a hotel that provides family-friendly fun without compromising on grown-up relaxation and cultural enrichment.
Majestic, enchanting and alive with colour, Marrakech is a well established destination for travellers in the know looking for that perfect combination of fun in the sun, romance, vibrant culture and orgasmic food.
For well-heeled holiday makers vacationing en famille, there always seems to be a compromise, where the needs of children trump parents’ thirst for adventure. For the sake of ease, many end up settling for resorts in Florida or southern Spain. How dull. But luxurious family holidays don’t actually have to be that formulaic. The Four Seasons Hotel and Resort in Marrakech, Morocco quite possibly has the answer, as it is where a grown-up holiday can be enjoyed without compromise, and enriching cultural experiences can be combined with day care and poolside relaxation.
The hotel not only has 141 guest rooms, including 27 suites, but within the enormous 16 hectare $116m development, contains a collection of 43 riyadhs (gardens) and villas for purchase and rental surrounding the beautiful swimming pools, a central feature at the heart of the hotels grounds.
Nestling in the Menara Gardens – created in the 12th century during the reign of the Almohad dynasty – the hotel and resort couldn’t be better placed. It’s close enough to the snake charmers, market traders, rich smells and cacophony of sounds of the souks, but far enough to indulge in sunrise yoga classes and relax in the tranquility of an opulent enclave.
The hotel design and layout reflects Morocco’s architectural heritage and culture. The stylistic interpretations of classical design combined with modern luxury to provide an authentic experience that felt easier to enjoy than some of the older more established ‘riyadh’ hotels in the heart of Marrakech.
In the middle of the gardens, beyond the fully-stocked non-stop-fun kids zone with its own pool and entertainment area, is Le Spa, designed by Marc Vanden Bossche. A 3,000m² Moroccan-inspired temple of relaxation, its fifteen treatment rooms, saunas, and plunge pools are a perfect way to end the day after traversing the narrow paths of the souks and admiring the majesty of the Koutoubia Mosque and its historical minaret. A traditional Moroccan hammam can be organised, a must for any visitor to the country, but if all this sounds far too relaxing, there is also a fitness centre, a 35m swimming pool and two clay tennis courts.
Although the Four Seasons Marrakech hotel features two restaurants serving local and international cuisine as well as three lounges, for real excitement I would suggest heading outside for a culinary adventure. Dar Yacout is one of the most breathtaking ‘riyadhs’ in the entire city. A glass of local rosé on the rooftop is the perfect way to watch the sun set before a traditional meal, accompanied by local musicians, set around an incredible courtyard. From fragrant, spiced shoulder of lamb to the freshest mint tea – it’s an experience not to be missed.
There is so much to do, see and explore in Marrakech, from the beauty of the Majorelle Gardens by Yves Saint Laurent to the souks of the Medina and a trip to the beautiful Atlas Mountains – and The Four Seasons has the space and set up to make the most of it all, allowing guests to relax in style, combining enriching cultural experiences with family-friendly fun.