The Royal Mansour is Quintessential Morocco
Interview by Emme Martin | Photography courtesy of Royal Mansour
When thinking of Moroccan culture, the best word that comes to mind is rich. The vibrant colors, intricate architecture, artisan heritage, and hospitable people solidify a visit to the North African country as a bucket-list adventure. Aptly deemed a city of immense luxury, Marrakesh holds the finest Moroccan pleasures. Tucked within the sumptuous town, the Royal Mansour offers visitors a quintessential Moroccan experience. VIE spoke with general manager Jean-Claude Messant, who shared some secrets about the hotel’s magic.
VIE: Tell us a bit about the history of the property.
Jean-Claude Messant: The property began as a passion project of King Mohammed VI to showcase the best of the best of the country. Royal Mansour was a labor of love handcrafted by over 1,500 local artisans who combined traditional Moroccan designs with exacting precision. The hard work resulted in the embodiment of Moroccan art, craftsmanship, gastronomy, and culture at one luxury hotel.
VIE: Describe the art of Moroccan living and how Royal Mansour embodies this?
JCM: We honor the art of Moroccan living in every design detail and every service at Royal Mansour. Moroccan architectural and artisanal heritage is symbolized through the handcrafted zellige tiles outlined in geometrical shapes in the riads and lobby and hand-carved wood latticework in the spa.
VIE: Can you tell us about the traditional Moroccan design elements in the hotel and their significance to the culture?
JCM: The design is a combination of traditional Moroccan and Moorish architecture. No detail was overlooked, from the carefully crafted marquetry to the ironwork and carved ceilings that place guests in Marrakesh. The hotel mimics a traditional medina as there are no corridors, rooms, or suites at Royal Mansour Marrakesh, only riads.
VIE: What is a riad, and can you tell us how it compares to a more traditional hotel experience?
JCM: A riad is a traditional Moroccan home. Riads seem to be very simple and insignificant from the outside, with Moucharabieh windows protecting the family’s privacy. The interiors hold a courtyard, a Moroccan lounge downstairs, bedrooms, and a rooftop plunge pool and terrace. At the Royal Mansour, there are no elevators, no carts, no rooms, and no crowds. We have even constructed a network of underground tunnels to allow our staff to move around the property, catering to every guest’s needs.
VIE: How does the Royal Mansour want guests to feel while visiting the property?
JCM: As the rest of Marrakesh continues to buzz outside, Royal Mansour is a monument to tranquility within the medina walls. An open-air courtyard welcomes guests with the calming fragrance of orange blossoms and lemon trees and a murmuring fountain playing a gentle soundtrack. We want guests to feel as if they are in their private oasis without sacrificing quick access to the cultural icons of Marrakesh, including the Majorelle Garden, Jemaa el-Fnaa, and the YSL Museum.
An open-air courtyard welcomes guests with the calming fragrance of orange blossoms and lemon trees and a murmuring fountain playing a gentle soundtrack.
We want guests to feel as if they are in their private oasis without sacrificing quick access to the cultural icons of Marrakesh, including the Majorelle gardens, Jemaa el-Fnaa, and the YSL Museum.
VIE: What can guests expect from a traditional Moroccan spa experience?
JCM: Our crown jewel, the Spa Royal Mansour, is a three-story, 27,000-square-foot respite accessed through a private citrus grove with an elaborate white birdcage atrium lobby. The signature hammam treatment, a traditional Moroccan purification ritual, is not to be missed. It incorporates local products such as clay from the Atlas Mountains for an energizing wrap or roses from the Kalaat M’Gouna used in the regenerating wrap. The spa experience also addresses physical and mental well-being, especially with the new multiday wellness retreats, marking a new era for the property as a global wellness destination.
VIE: Tell us about the cuisine offered at the hotel’s restaurants and how each restaurant compares.
JCM: Royal Mansour is a culinary destination with four restaurants led by two three-Michelin-starred chefs, Chef Yannick Alléno and Chef Massimiliano Alajmo. The first stop is La Grande Table Marocaine, our fine-dining Moroccan restaurant where Chef Alléno fuses his French culinary expertise with local gastronomy. Another bespoke experience is the recently opened all-day dining destination La Table with Alléno—a French-inspired brasserie. Next, Le Jardin offers a Mediterranean- and Asian-inspired menu for a poolside lunch or evening cocktail. We also offer an Italian dining concept with Chef Alajmo, SESAMO. Chef Alajmo combines his Italian roots with locally sourced Moroccan ingredients. Here, I recommend the garlic and red pepper spaghetti complete with vegetables from our garden.
VIE: What are some noteworthy things to do or places to see in Marrakesh?
JCM: Marrakesh is a fashion and shopping destination with a labyrinth of local artisans and purveyors of handcrafted rugs, babouche slippers, and jewelry. Guests of Royal Mansour also enjoy complimentary tickets to the Yves Saint Laurent Museum, and we can arrange for a guided tour of YSL’s home, Villa Oasis. Another exclusive for our guests is access to the private home and laboratory of master French perfumer Serge Lutens.
VIE: When is the best time to visit the Royal Mansour?
JCM: The best times to visit are in the fall and spring when the desert heat cools.
VIE: Merci, Jean-Claude!
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Visit RoyalMansour.com to book your stay.