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Best of the Best 2013: Hotels: Palais Namaskar

  • Jackie Caradonio

Marrakech’s Medina is a whirlwind of activity, where shopkeepers hawk colorful tapestries and fragrant spices while snake charmers and fortune-tellers implore tourists for a dirham or two. But the scene is remarkably serene in the nearby Palmeraie neighborhood, an upscale enclave of Marrakech where the Palais Namaskar opened in April of last year. A haven of towering palm trees, pink-hued archways, marble pathways, and tranquil lakes, the new Oetker Collection hotel serves as a respite from—and a gateway to—the magical Moroccan city.

Six years and $50 million in the making, the 12-acre property features 41 guest rooms, suites, villas, and palaces set amid intricately sculpted Balinese gardens and cascading ponds and pools. The first venture in Africa from the Oetker Collection—owners of Hôtel Le Bristol in Paris and the Hôtel du Cap Eden-Roc on the French Riviera, among others—Palais Namaskar blends architectural and design styles throughout, with Moorish gilded domes and stone pillars striking a balance with boldly modern interiors arranged according to the tenets of feng shui. The hotel’s top accommodations are the two Xanadu-like palaces, which offer private gardens and swimming pools, ample living quarters, butlers, and panoramic views of the Atlas Mountains.

The guest rooms and the hotel’s public areas are connected via stone paths that slice through reflecting pools lined with dramatic scalloped arches. Extravagant amenities abound—a French-Moroccan restaurant with sky-high ceilings, a tea lounge crowned with a 10-foot chandelier, a spa with Guerlain treatments and two private hammams—but Palais Namaskar is perhaps most alluring for its quiet spaces, as roughly one-third of the hotel’s acreage is reserved for meditation gardens, ponds, and pools.

The action of the city, of course, is never far from reach, as Palais Namaskar offers any number of excursions to the medina and other Marrakech sights. The hotel also facilitates adventures that range from helicopter trips through the Sahara to hot-air balloon rides over the Djebilet Hills. A private Dassault Falcon 900 jet is available for jaunts to Oetker’s properties in France—as well as for flights to and from New York City, Dubai, and Moscow—helping to secure Palais Namaskar’s place as Marrakech’s most convenient escape. ($770–$15,681)

Palais Namaskar, +212.5.24.29.98.00, www.palaisnamaskar.com