|Palais Namaskar, from the European luxury brand the Oetker Collection, is a showstopper resort property soon to join the ranks of Amanjena and La Mamounia as the chicest addresses in Marrakech.|
MARRAKECH, Morocco ( MainStreet) -- Despite an established outpost of Aman Resorts, a Four Seasons resort that opened mid-2011 and a much ballyhooed remodel of the famed La Mamounia debuting in 2009, Marrakech's luxury hospitality market doesn't seem to be slowing down. There's yet another round of ambitious openings on the way, including some of its grandest properties to date. Some include a roster of starry designers or world-famous architects, while others take an arty or eco-chic approach in their attempt to continue wooing Europe's most fashionable travelers to Marrakech in spite of economic uncertainty at home and lingering geopolitical concerns in the region.
One of Marrakech's most famous hotels even before it opened, the structure now home to Taj Palace Marrakech had its Hollywood close-up in Sex and the City 2, in which it doubled as a glitzy hotel in Abu Dhabi. It was one in a series of recent questionable decisions that included a short-lived management agreement with the Mandarin Oriental hotels group and an oft-delayed opening date. Owned by JK Hotels, a private Moroccan company, the property will operate under India's esteemed Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces, one of the expanding collection's 17 international properties, including San Francisco's Campton Place and The Pierre in New York. With an unofficial opening date planned for the second quarter of 2012, the long-anticipated Taj Palace Marrakech will be home to 161 guest rooms with interiors by artist and designer Stuart Church, who mixes Ottoman and Oriental influences with the bohemian aesthetic of a Berber kasbah, making the property feel like a landmark palace far older and grander than its actual age. The hotel also finds a fitting marquee for its lavish spa -- at more than 35,000 square feet, one of the largest in the region -- operating under Taj's Jiva Grande Spa brand with two large hammam-style bathing facilities. Not only are those the largest in the region; they're attached to a full-service fitness club and 14 treatment rooms just a short drive from the historic medina.