The heat of the Atlas desert blasts anyway any dreary thoughts that might linger from the flight as the plane doors open to reveal the bustle that is Menara Airport in Marrakech. Then, you are whisked to the air conditioned comfort of the Palais Namaskar top-of-the range BMW. Of course, if you prefer to arrive by the Palais Namaskcar jet, this too can be arranged.
This is Africa. The roads are dusted terracotta from the desert sand, and cream stone buildings protrude from the well watered gardens. Mopeds weave past queues of weather-beaten cars. Children and carpets are strapped to the backs of their riders, perilously making their way to the main attraction, the Jemaa el-Fnaa market, a famed UNESCO World Heritage site; take a few minutes to marvel at snake charmers in the market.
The hustle and bustle of market sellers and tourists soon begins to fade as the the Palmeraie stretches out in front of you. The Palmeraie is an exclusive area not far from the old town of Marrakech. This is where five star opulence descends upon the ravaged desert at the foot of the Atlas Mountains.
No better place for an oasis to quench the thirst of a discerning traveller.
Thankfully Palais Namaskar is not a mirage.
The moonlight highlights the palm trees, oil candles shimmer off the water in this oasis, gently leading the way to the blissful stillness of the villas.
Feeling like a sheik, you are escorted along the waterways past the wonderful restaurant, sparkling in gold and oranges. It just happened that a Saharan wind was blowing through, a welcome respite to the deep heat.
Renowned French-Algerian designer Imaad Rahmouni, and owner and creator Philippe Soulier, are behind the exquisite design, which blends Moorish architecture with interiors of calm sophistication.
There is an oriental feel to the layout; water is a main feature, guiding visitors through the resort effortlessly between the spa, restaurants, palaces and villas.
You will be hard pushed to see many other visitors. Exclusivity and tranquillity are the order of the day; this is where you come to escape the rigours of life and get back onto an even keel, it’s easy not to interact if you choose not to. Yoga is available most mornings though, should you feel the urge.
The service is exceptional. Unlike most modern hotels, a huge weighty key is used to enter the villa. It teases with the delight of finding a hidden treasure trove guarded behind a vast heavy door.
The waterway leading to the villa would remind you of a moat, protecting the privacy of the occupants and ensuring the treasures remain sacred. One treasure may well be the complementary bottle of red wine from the region. Once you master the art of turning the key, ‘just so’ a courtyard unfolds, with a swimming pool, encased in yet another moat. Orange, lime and olive trees hang tantalisingly over the pool, purple lights reflect on the water and the open plan sun bed beckons, promising a relaxing slumber.
This completely private area is surrounded by cream stone walls, offset by the modern full glass front of the villa. Arrow slits punctuate the walls, a warning for anything or anyone that threatens to disturb the peace.
Once inside, the stylish villas have every detail thought through. Guerlain adorns the bathroom, which has glass brushed walls opening onto an outdoor bath. The television swivels to allow for easier viewing. There is an ornate fireplace, with the emblem of the Palais Namaskar taking centre place above it . It adds to the charm of this modern bolthole.
Should you wish to leave your haven, a spa is available for all guests offering treatments inspired by Feng Shui. There are three restaurants to chose from as well as a must see Sky Bar.
The staff are happy to set up culinary masterpieces within the grounds, a magical Arabian night picnic or dine afloat on the lake. It really is your choice. Nothing is beyond the auspices of the Palais Namaskcar.
As you head towards the airport, a little detour to pick up some Moroccan keep sakes is in order, perhaps a tagine to continue the Moroccan culinary experience at home or perhaps a rug neatly squashed into your hand luggage. Either way, the Palais Namaskar staff will furnish you with a wealth of information to choose wisely, just as you will have done if you decide to visit this desert oasis.
88/69 Route de Bab Atlas
Tel: +212 (0)5 24 29 98 00
Fax: +212 (0)5 24 32 81 11