The castle, or Kasbah, of the last Pasha of Marrakech, is situated high in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. It’s difficult to find, meshing into the red dusk of the mountains. It belies the true identity of its last owner, the Lord of the Atlas, once the most powerful man in Morocco and one of the wealthiest in the world.
Situated on the road to the Kasbah, between Marrakech and Quarzazate is Amanjena, moulded to emulate the same dusky pink fortresses that once stood proud over the Berber villages. Opulent yet calm, it’s a haven in the midst of the searing desert heat.
Vibrant colours greet you on arrival at Amanjena. The juicy greens of the gardens and palm trees are complimented by the liquid blues of the bassin, or irrigation pool, a focal point at the centre of the resort. The pathways round the bassin guides you by the hand through the resort, lumminated by the candles and lamps that magically change the pink walls to orange. Moroccan marble fountains are placed for maximum effect, punctuated by the hand cut glazed tiles or zellij.
Amanjena is the first Aman resort on the African continent. This ‘peaceful paradise’ has the 18 hole Amelkis Championship golf Course right next door and another course is minutes away; or take a plunge in the cooling waters of the pool. Encased in Moorish arches and embellished with green tiles, it is a welcome retreat from the midday heat. The terrace by the pool offers snacks and refreshments, ice buckets are topped up regularly, as is the water, camels were clearly well designed for this terrain.
The accommodation is spectacularly unique, with a Venetian-esque dome as the focal point of each of the 32 pavilions. The entrance leads into a private garden, complete with its own water fountain, gazebo, dining table and sun loungers.
The living area is carved from Moroccan marble, a fireplace rests in the corner for those colder evenings and Berber carpets are scattered across the tiled floors. A very handy little straw basket is provided for each guest, and a pair of Haviana flip- flops, just the ticket to gather your wears together for the short trip to the spa.
The spa features two Turkish style hammams or steam baths and a whirlpool bordered by a two metre pise wall. There is a selection of traditional Moroccan treatments available including the facial that uses the speciality prepared Aman resort oils. Perfect for those sun slapped rather than kissed cheeks.
Traditional music serenades you in the evenings as you ruefully decide where to dine. The Thai restaurant is by the pool offering, you guessed it, Thai food, a tad unusual for a visitor to a Moroccan resort, tasty nevertheless. The Restaurant features Mediterranean and local cuisine, and of course you always have the option of dining outside, by lantern light, watching the local musicians. The lamb tagine or the Royal couscous is a must. The olive oil comes from the Amanjena olive grove; slather it liberally over the hot freshly baked bread. For that extra special experience you could always woo your loved one in the Caidel tent, right by olive grove.
For post dinner drinks meander to the aptly named Bar. Cigar connoisseurs can relax in the Fumoir, which offers a varied selection. The entrance of the hotel is also very a calming space to relax, the hand printed velvet seats offer the weary traveller a comfortable base to rest after haggling for a Berber carpet in the Medina, thirsty work.
So, if you wish to feel like a Pasha for a short time at least, visit Amanjena. You will not leave disappointed.
Amanjena Route de Ouarzazate
KM 12, Marrakech
tel: (212) 5 24 399 0