- Detailed Review
- Facts & Amenities
If you’re at all familiar with Aman Resorts, you’ll have come across American-born Ed Tuttle’s name in the architectural annals of many of the properties, Amanjena included.
This 40-room (actually pavilions and houses, all with private gardens, of two to eight bedrooms each) property on five acres of land was built almost twenty years ago, and has seen its fair share of fame and fortune pass through its doors.
Situated twelve kilometres south of Marrakech, the location is ideal for those who think that a holiday is about privacy, relaxing in style and being pampered, by 184 employees at last count. A place where a round of golf is considered extreme sports, and weightlifting amounts to bringing the rim of a glass to your lips or a fork to your tongue.
Large and resplendent in every way, it’s a true resort; you’re free to wander and get lost in the paradisiacal gardens and lush surroundings. The Moorish architecture is stunning; you’ll get lost amidst arcade after arcade of symmetrical arches and pillars, all painted in pale peach with stone floors to match.
And watch this space, as plans are afoot for new pavilions (sixteen) to be built which can only be a good thing, but even sooner, Aman’s own signature Japanese restaurant, NAMA, will open here.
Yet here’s my bottom line. Amanjena is for lovers and honeymooners and those seeking refuge from the hectic pace of Marrakech’s illustrious bazaars, bantering, hawkers and alleyways. A place for peace and tranquility, a round of tennis or a gentle game of golf at any of the three nearby courses. Because while other properties in Marrakech will dazzle you with excesses of Moroccan bounty, riches and style, this is not what Amanjena is about. This is a hotel for seclusion, repose and reflection…and gazing into a loved one’s eyes while floating in the pool, dining in the restaurant, or hanging out in your very private villa. Let me stress—make sure you only leave home with the one you (truly) love…
Enter what looks like an Arabian palace, where your imagination will run wild and the vista is downright beautiful. Amanjena has a strong sense of place about it, with the majestic Atlas range in the background. The allure of the property is intense, made even more so for me because when I arrived, the heavens opened up and since no one was sticking around to sing in the rain, the grounds were deserted. The general manager came out to welcome me, as did the visiting (from Amanyara in the Turks and Caicos) F&B manager, who wanted to make sure that any reservations I needed for dining over the next few days, were organized.
Check-in formalities here are taken care of in one of several small and intimate rooms. Gracefully handled, I was escorted on a tour of the property before being shown to my pavilion. The entryway of the resort has many welcoming rooms, including a library and a foyer with a huge fireplace and an enormous display-case of local spices, adding colour, allure and aroma to the area.
Rooms and suites
I’ve mentioned privacy already, but here are the three mantras Aman holds dear: privacy, space and high ceilings. I can safely say that all of them came into play in my digs, which, above and beyond, I liked very much.
The Pavilion Bassin rooms boast an enormous amount of space under a huge domed ceiling. Outside, the beautiful, enclosed garden area has a small fountain in the centre and two chaises lounges for relaxing. Here, too, is a huge sofa and dining area in an enchanting gazebo, perfect for a Berber breakfast with birdsong.
The room itself offers a lot of space to move and groove, eat, sleep, lounge and work, if you need to. The TV and the channels are somewhat nondescript, but the WiFi is strong. So’s the coffee from the Nespresso machine.
Hence you’ll want for nothing, except perhaps a little more light to read when the sun goes down. And you’ll hear nothing at all except the birds, the wind in the trees and the occasional golf ball, powerfully being shot through the air at the adjoining Amelkis golf course.
You won’t be disappointed in here. Cedar wood and a vast expanse of gorgeous, green marble prevail in what is essentially a room that is again, half the size of the bedroom. How I wished I had the same at home… Access is from behind the bed space with entry doors on either side. Two huge vanities, each with their own enormous dressing space, mirrors galore, a safe, a massive shower and a bathtub fit for a queen, are housed within, and there are windows to let in the natural light.
Aman-branded amenities were provided; I stuck to my own I had travelled with.
The first night, wanting to stay close to the decadent fire in my room and avoid the rain and wind, I hunkered down and ordered room service. I’m a stickler for a good salad and what I got was perfection indeed, hands down.
On the second day, a Monday, the only restaurant open was the Moroccan one, and that only in the evening. So lunch was served poolside which was nice, but I did have to wonder where I would have eaten if it had been raining or cold. Nevertheless, the sun did come out, belying the deluge of the night before, and I casually dined on a beautifully prepared piece of fish with vegetables. The service, while friendly, was nothing remarkable.
The Moroccan restaurant here is magnificent in design and style—and very large. While nice in a traditional way, the local dining scene here in Marrakech has developed in leaps and bounds. And, with so many options at my fingertips, I want to be wowed, not just satisfied. Here, the food was good, service was fine, but nothing snappy, hip or savvy at all. The prices for wines, even local ones, were eye-watering.
I popped into the bar before dinner, which is beautiful, decorated with daggers and decor of another era from the region and where the service is attentive and personal. But I was alone and the place was deserted, so after a glass of wine and some yummy truffle popcorn, I left.
Other restaurant options
As above, NAMA is soon to open here, replacing the existing Japanese restaurant with something that promises to be spectacular. A new culinary chapter for Aman, they say; the signature dishes will include wild salmon and chicken, prepared on an authentic robata grill, heated using bincho-tan, a Japanese charcoal of yesteryear. Bring it on, I say.
Spa and wellness
There exists a spa that appears to be well run and well-liked. Both that and the gym are due for refurbs as, it was explained to me, when the hotel was built, such features were not particularly à la mode. Now that they very much are, this will all change.
But meanwhile, for sports, I loved the floodlit tennis courts where racquets, balls, towels and water bottles were placed, in case anyone wanted to drop by for a game. I didn’t ask around for a partner, but I’m sure if I had one would have been found.
Pool and beach
Of course, several of the pavilions, and ‘maisons’ as they call the villas, have their own pools. The central focus of the property, however, is the main (blissfully heated) swimming pool, all 33 meters of it, which sits amidst the palm trees, olive trees and fauna of the gardens. If you can tear yourself away from the chaises lounges to get lunch just off to one side, do so. If not, stay where you are and it will come to you.
There is also a well-stocked, elegant and enormous hotel shop located pool-side, with just about every Moroccan goody and glamour piece you could ever want, including kaftans, slippers, scarves, shirts, bathing suits, costume jewellery and skin care products. I scoured around, asking myself a few times, “Now…what do I need?”
There’s a new heated children’s pool which has been added, under the gaze of the Atlas Mountains, and it’s not far from the adult’s pool and luncheon terrace, convenient if you need to head back and forth. Babysitting services are available and a kid’s club is in the works.
Staff and service
Gentle and warm, kind and relaxed, a little too relaxed I thought for the type of clientele Aman would expect to host: discerning and demanding. And OK, this is not NYC and this is not a business hotel and people are here to relax, and yet I felt the wait staff weren’t terribly pushed or polished. So there’s room for improvement here, which, it would seem, is forthcoming as the hotel makes some changes in the foreseeable future, especially food and beverage wise.
Uniforms are boring and brown, in the winter anyway, and could use an update. Think style in the aisles perhaps? Emirates? Lufthansa?
You won’t find folk taking selfies on a stick here, for sure. And it was not high season but there were several couples—gay and straight, young and old, childless and blessed—staying: French, American, Asian and British. I overheard one gentleman on the phone at lunch by the pool, regaling the person on the other end with stories of the beauty of the resort, his accommodation and the service and food he was enjoying. I was glad to hear all that; Amanjena merits such praise.
Everything was spot-on and speedy. As I called in advance to announce my pending departure from the hotel on my way homeward bound ex the airport, the lobby manager on duty had diligently filled out my airport departure form, which he handed over with the bill. I settled up, said my farewells to all, including the GM, who chivalrously came to say goodbye, and went outside to wait for my car (free airport transfers provided), where I chatted with a very loquacious guest relations person. He regaled me with a few stories about his career at the hotel, and I was soon on my way to the airport, about a twenty minute drive away.
How to get there
20 minutes by road from Marrakech Airport
38 Pavilions & Maisons