A thing of beauty is a joy forever. –John Keats
The only lasting beauty is beauty of the heart. –Rumi
If I’m honest I have to tell you I still read fairy-tales and I like them best of all…For me the only things of interest are those linked to the heart. –Audrey Hepburn
I’ve never been anywhere that provided more beauty breaks than Marrakesh. I don’t mean all the lavish spa treatments and signature Moroccan hammams here. I instead refer to respites for the soul and playgrounds for the imagination. In the “country”or Palmeraie, many hotels and villas stimulate the senses, quiet the mind, and move the heart. Friends who have lived in Australia, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas agree that there is no city offering more sumptuous masterpieces of architecture, landscape, and design to eat, sip, sleep, or swim than does Marrakesh.
When I moved to Morocco, one of my first outings was to the Taj Palace (now Sahara Palace) hotel where the movie, Sex and the City 2, was filmed. I’d vowed to walk in Carrie Bradshaw’s shoes, and as I crossed that splendid threshold I echoed her sigh,”Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Last week I had the same surreal experience as I did a pool day on the recommendation of my friend, Julie, at sprawling, stunning Palais Namaskar.
Though the entrance was as long and mysterious as the Yellow Brick Road and stopped at a door worthy of The Emerald City, after two years here I walked the resort more comfortable than ever in my own shoes and my own story. In fact, even before I waded into the pool I felt transported to the Orient, the ancient Arabia of my dreams on another adventure, so I kicked off my sandals and felt the sweeping lawn under my feet.
Since opening in 2012, the property has garnered numerous accolades, the most recent being named by Prix Villegiature as the 2015″Best Hotel in Africa.” The pool, grounds, and rooftop form a fluid sanctuary where the only sounds are lapping lakes, chirping birds in flight, and waiters scooping crushed ice from shiny silver buckets.
The four acres of Oriental arches and epic waterways serve not only as backdrops for blushing brides or runways for models but also welcome every woman–even those there just for the day– to gyrate like a girly girl, to dream, to fly where her fantasies take her, and to thank God for this big, beautiful world. Since two I’ve loved twirling in tutus. Here with bare feet and a big smile I sashayed across waterway walks, swung in a hammock, played in the pool with friends, and made memories caught on camera, souvenirs of once upon a time when I lived in magical Morocco.
We climbed to the rooftop for sunset and had dinner lit by moonlight. It was a good day.
The moon doth with delight /Look round her when the heavens are bare; /Waters on a starry night/Are beautiful and fair.–William Wordsworth
I leave Morocco knowing that beauty comes from where we choose to look– not into a mirror probing for wrinkles or blemishes nor through a magnifying glass scanning for defects in others. Wherever we are, we can find beauty, whether looking up at sunsets, down at cool waters, or around at new or familiar faces. Gazing on beauty makes us happy, and happiness makes us beautiful. Audrey Hepburn said, “Happy girls are the prettiest.” Truly we smile brightest when we see ourselves and others as incredible, radiant creations.
For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others. For beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge you are never alone.–Audrey Hepburn
Joy is the best makeup.–Anne Lamott
Getting there: A night in this 5-Star resort averages 500 Euros this time of year, but most hotels in Marrakesh offer pool day specials which they seldom advertise. We paid at the time of this post $60 USD which included pool use for the day and dinner with the choice of a starter and entree or entree and dessert. Pools in more modest hotels can start as low as 100 Dirhams ($10 for the day) which does not include food/drinks.