I have been fantasising about Morocco for a few years now, specifically Marrakech. So it was to my disbelief that through chance and an unfortunate accident on a ski slope that I recently found myself with a once in a lifetime free pass. Two days in Richard Branson’s place in the Middle Atlas and two days in the city itself.
We start on the long and dusty roads out of Marrakech and towards the mountains, it’s amazing how far you can appear to go in a mere hour (add on five to ten minutes for an obligatory stop to take a photo of a camel like a complete tourist). Before I knew it we had wound our way up the mountains and arrived at the Kasbah Tamadot, a Virgin Limited Edition hotel, or as they call it Richard Branson’s Moroccan retreat. Snow topped mountains in front of us, sheer valleys drops behind us.
A restorative lunch (and restorative glass of surprisingly good Moroccan rose wine) later and myself and my companion, JB, felt able to take in our surroundings. Hidden courtyards with gorgeous pools and fountains filled with rose petals, a spa with four treatment rooms, sauna and Hammam, libraries and game rooms with ornate fireplaces, authentic art and stunning vistas. Too much to describe really and I think I have taken enough photos to make a brochure for Virgin.
When in morocco it is only right to have an authentic Hammam experience. A couples Hammam should only be done with someone you are very comfortable with, and I mean VERY, for example someone who sees you naked on a daily basis or the person who gave you life. We stepped into a round dome vaulted room, striped down to our birthday suites and a small woman began to throw warm water all over us from a well at the end of the room, just a small bowl at first, swiftly followed by the entire contents of a bucket. Left side right side she went, hauling the buckets of beautifully warm water. The first stage was a slippery black eucalyptus soap rubbed all over your body, a strange gelatinous consistency that melted into the skin with a clearing and invigorating scent. The next stage can only be described as “the scratchy mitt stage”, an exfoliating glove (to use its official name) rubbed all over- scratching places you didn’t even realise were itchy- we told ourselves that the rolls of gubbins rolling off was skin was just soap residue but judging by how gorgeously smooth I was afterwards I am pretty sure I had just shed my winter snake skin, along with whatever tan I had accumulated over two days (not much). Next the orange flower rassoul mud followed by lying on the warm stone slabs. I admit I must have dozed off as before I knew it the small Moroccan lady was asking me to sit up and was repeating the water throwing exercise along with an incredible hair wash that bordered on that scene from Ghost it was so good. Finally we were coated in verbena oil and left to lounge by the pool side decked out in fluffy bathrobes, sipping lightly sweetened mint tea.
After this level of bonding JB and I parted ways, a traditionalist my companion opted for a full body massage and Aromatherapy Associates Rose essential facial and I opted for stone placement during a basic facial. Hannan, my therapist, a bright smiling thoroughly gorgeous local Moroccan with impeccable English piled hot stones beneath my back. Stones that dug into my muscles, in between the bones of my back. relieving deep tension I wasn’t aware of before piling more onto my stomach and beneath my hands, they were so strangely warms and comforting I wanted to be buried in them. I was left restored and glowy- something I hadn’t felt in a while, I even managed to doze off by the side of the pool after another gallon of mint tea was consumed. Bliss. TS
Highlights: seeing “Richard’s mum” beat everyone at pool in the Assam lounge & watching the rose petals float around the reflection pools
Comic Lowlights: being beaten at pool by the older generations
The oddest thing we say: peacocks casually strolling around the pool
© pebble&co 2017