Decadence like this takes some getting used to, and then becomes quite ruinous. I haven’t dared another holiday since for fear that, like a deranged tyrant; I’ll believe I’m entitled to more.
A villa within a hotel is new on me. But brings with it the solitude and privacy of one’s own place, while experiencing the luxury of never having to make a bed or a meal. Not just a mini-paradise to rule over for a week, but one with it’s own pool and hammam. And (dare it not be even whispered at home because no-one like’s a show off) it’s own butler: as visible or invisible as you wish. Ready to lay towels, light the fire pit, restock the conditioner in the outdoor shower and bring fruits, nuts and cake. The overwhelming feeling is beyond going on holiday, but that of being looked after even nurtured while you’re there.
The main hotel is stylishly furnished with French and Moroccan designs. The bar feels like a Gatsby gentleman’s club, the restaurants are elegant and muted, popped with beautiful Moroccan prints. It initially feels like a week of wincing for a parent of young girls unacquainted with finishing school. But Royal Palm Marrakech wants families here and offer not only an open-hearted welcome, but facilities to match. There’s a children’s club open from 7am to midnight in which children can cook, look after tortoises, play tennis on scaled-down courts, swim, dance, dress up and have henna tattoos. The standard ‘hotel kids club’ can leave parents with a pang of guilt as they turn heal and head off to indulge. But the women who run it are the swirl-children-around type, the laughing type and most importantly, the hugging type. And it’s that, far more than the activities, which makes the difference. In fact I notice a culture of nurturing children everywhere I go in Morocco and often would find my daughters receiving a kiss on the head, a high five or a lesson in shaking hands. Even in the grown up parts of the hotel, like the architectural colossus of a water feature that covers a large part of the grounds, most of it can be swam in which feels illegal and fun for small people.
Breakfasts have enormous choice, for bread-addicts like me, to European meats and cheeses, as well as traditional food. Evening meals are sophisticated, and colourful with wonderful flavours. Even room service in the villa is on beautiful linens and silver. To work off some of those calories, there’s a mint gym, tennis courts, squash courts, yoga room, spa and additional pool, the kind of place you’d be on a waiting list for at home.
So there, I’m spoiled and marred and corrupted by a life less ordinary in this haven. And looking out at the storms of winter on the hills back home, if it takes flare-ups and overthrows to get back there, I might just do it.