|The Paris-based Murano Resort operates a chic resort in Marrakech.|
Marrakech, Morocco's third-largest city, has become a world-class destination for spa revelers and travelers looking for five-star luxury. While Amanresorts' hotel has long been the top destination, new additions like the Murano Resort and the forthcoming W Hotel Marrakech and Mandarin Oriental are raising the profile of Palmeraie, an upscale neighborhood outside the city's historic center.
Far removed from the 24-hour intensity of the Medina area, Palmeraie offers an over-the-top resort experience fit for a king. Welcome to Marrakech: When you arrive, your first thought will be "thank god I'm not driving." Traffic lights are more of a suggestion; the more aggressive driver gets the right of way. Scooters zoom by carrying at least three passengers, buses weave down the road's shoulder and a middle divider unsuccessfully contains pedestrians carrying goats, groceries and occasional household appliances. Checking in: The all-suite Murano Resort has become a favorite of celebrities like pop star Rihanna. As you arrive, a guard will wave you through a dramatic entryway of Moroccan architecture and flashy French design. The hotel's lobby sits beneath a domed ceiling, but features minimalist furnishings reminiscent of Paris couture. A short staircase leads to a chandelier-topped lounge and an intimate dining room that opens to a massive pool deck. Outside, you'll find the pinnacle of the resort: a rose red swimming pool surrounded by red daybeds. French dance music from a nearby DJ adds to the festive ambience. Rooms: The Murano consists of four two-story brick buildings that line the perimeter of the property. A tiled courtyard with a fountain sits in the middle. Each building contains four guest rooms, which come in medium, large and extra large.
A heavy wood door opens to a fashionable living and sleeping area with a four-poster bed, minimalist club chairs and an ornate fireplace. Paneled doors open to a decadent balcony that doubles the size of the room. A massive bathroom is lined in mosaic tile with marble basin sinks, a soaking tub and rain shower. Palmeraie by day: When you tire of the Murano pool, hit Nikki Beach Marrakech. It's perhaps the best outpost of the beach club chain, which spans four continents. The club's military-style doorman is known to charge up to $40 for entry to its immaculate pool area. Nikki Beach serves sushi and two-handed frozen caipirinhas so good you'll forget they cost $25 each. At night, the space morphs into a nightclub with a Saturday party that's worth planning around. Palmeraie by night: If you've never been to Medina, this is the time to experience its famous night market with its endless food stands, musicians and vendors. Afterward, head back to Palmeraie for a late dinner at Ksar Char Bagh. The menu delights in traditional Moroccan specialties with a French twist derived from vegetables grown in an on-site garden. After dinner, head back to the Murano, which will be brimming with nightlife in the bar and around the pool until 1 a.m. on weekends. Recover from the night at Murano's weekly Sunday DJ brunch, which is one of the most popular in town.