June saw the much anticipated opening of Royal Mansour Marrakech, the opulent luxury hotel owned by Morocco's King Mohammed VI, whose ambitious tourism strategy has aimed to attract 10 million visitors to the country in 2010. His Majesty's Plan Azur is certainly working; Royal Mansour isn't the only new luxury hotel on the scene. The Rocco Forte Collection, Four Seasons, and Monte Carlo SBM have all staked their claim to Marrakech, which has emerged as a major tourism hot spot. In fact, Marrakech has been singled out as one of the "It Places" to travel in 2010 by both Conde Nast Traveler and The New York Times.
Royal Mansour Marrakech is a sight for sore eyes. No expense was spared in the hotel's construction, located directly within the medina walls of old Marrakech. In fact, Royal Mansour has been described as "the only entirely hand-built hotel in the world." 53 individual riads were designed with multicolored ceramic tile, elaborate woodwork, and Moroccan mosaics by top local artisans. Rooftop terraces and private pools offer stunning views of Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains. And the cuisine is by the Michelin three-starred chef (and Parisian sensation) Yannick Alléno. A fascinating Bloomberg News article describes the over-the-top indulgences found at the king's pad: from shoes polished with Champagne to laundered clothes wrapped in silk paper by private butlers to expertly mixed cocktails (even mint juleps). A staff of 400 is on hand to spoil guests rotten: "The hotel staff operates underground, driving golf carts along a maze of passageways, entering the three- and four-story riads through hidden portals. Each riad is serviced -- quietly -- by at least 10 people."
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