If you want to stay at one of the most outstanding resorts in the world, consider a trip to Morocco for at least two nights at the Palais Namaskar (aka “The Namaskar”), which truly deserves “six stars” for going above and beyond any five-star property in every way. If you’ve seen the movie Sex & The City 2, imagine the palace in Abu Dhabi where Carrie and the girls stayed. It’s that impressive.
Two friends and I had the good fortune of spending a few days at this luxury property, the latest to crop up in the desert-oasis Palmeraie region (technically part of Marrakech), when it opened in April.
After arrival at the Marrakech airport, the resort’s chauffer picked us up for the 30-minute drive to the property. The Range Rover's tires squealed from turning on the marble drive, where a half-dozen staff were on hand to welcome us. The lightly colored stone columns, long reflecting pool, gold palace domes, and manicured gardens and ponds were magnificent to behold.
The staff requested my passport and, without needing to sign any papers, walked me over to my 1400-square-foot villa (number 7), a spacious hideaway with large glass walls and doors that open onto the patio and pool. There’s even an outdoor bathtub that attendants can fill upon notice. I could have easily moved in here for a month or more.
The property, a mix of modern luxury with Moroccan influences, boasts 41 “keys” that unlock a mix of rooms, suites, villas, and two palaces (ideal for visiting royal families). While the villas and palaces have their own pools, the resort also has a main pool in front of the restaurant and bar. My friends had a lovely suite (number 25) with an absolutely stunning view of the gardens and the Atlas Mountains on the horizon. The bedroom had an exceptionally comfortable bed, various lighting controls, and bathroom products from Bulgari.
While the suites and villas are expensive (upwards of 1,400 euros per night), the regular resort rooms are much more affordable (about 400 euros) and can make for a smart luxury choice.
The Namaskar’s restaurant is expertly managed by a French expatriate, who was helpful in explaining to us the various Moroccan specialties, in addition to the French cuisine. The meals were excellent, as was the Moroccan wine (well worth sampling), both served under a half-dozen or so incredible Murano glass chandeliers. For a sumptuous breakfast, guests can eat on their terraces or by the main pool.
Take advantage of the resort’s excellent spa and fitness center. The service staff will take your weights or provide a towel and water without being asked (I smiled and suggested that I’d put the weights back myself since I was, after all, working out). I tried the spa on two occasions and Lufti, one of the masseurs, was terrific. I am not a big spa person in New York, but I indulge when I travel.
I heartily agree with the hotel’s general manager, who pointed out that the ideal Morocco vacation includes a few days in Marrakech (in the Medina, participating in the chaos and frenetic pace of the city) and then several more days at the Palais Namaskar for complete relaxation. Returning visitors who have already “done” the Medina may prefer returning exclusively to the Namaskar and spending all their time soaking in the unique and rejuvenating qualities of the resort.
Travelers may also consider a trip to the Sahara Desert (stay one or two nights) before arriving at the Namaskar. Just hire a car service and drive to Ouarzazate, stay one evening there, and continue on deeper into the Sahara for an evening. The Namaskar, always pleased to fulfill any need, has a helicopter option for those who prefer a faster day trip to the region. The only hurdle? Conjuring up the will to leave the resort.