Steeped in Luxury – Oberoi Marrakech

I was exceptionally impressed with the Oberoi; I wasn’t prepared to love it as much as I did! I’ve stayed at Oberoi in India; they are gorgeous and quite Over The Top! Oberoi Marrakech is outside the city fray, a calm haven of private villas with deep heated plunge pools. It’s elegant, but not overdone. A peaceful oasis within minutes from the chaos that is Marrakech!  Ranked Number 1 Resort in North Africa and the Middle East. Mind reading staff know your needs before you utter a request!

The stunning arrival courtyard sets the stage, incorporating the design of the historic Medersa Ben Youssef, built in the 14th century; one of Marrakech’s most famous historic monuments. There are picturesque views of the majestic snow-capped Atlas Mountains from the gardens, the restaurants and many of the villas. From the moment you arrive, I was impressed by the architecture, the level of service and the warm hospitality. Quiet elegance with a front row view of the snowcapped Atlas Mountains reflected in a monumental reflection pool.

Thoughtfully laid out to offer privacy, the spacious and luxurious rooms and villas, most with large heated private pools and gardens, the villas incorporate authentic Andalusian design and comes with a butler. Seventy-eight villas are clustered across the acres of lawns and manicured gardens. The Private Villas are decorated in a luxurious traditional Moroccan design with modern comforts and include a striking, landscaped garden, and a large pool within a secluded courtyard. Situated amid Mediterranean orchards of fragrant citrus trees and centuries old olive groves, an oasis outside the busy city of Marrakech. Water features, divine views of the majestic snowcapped Atlas Mountains, the Oberoi is civilized and sophisticated. My beautiful Pool Villa was so comfortable, I didn’t want to leave for meals, alfresco lunch, yes please! I am obsessive about arrivals – to a property or in suite.

Imagine how surprised I was to see a framed photo of myself in Asilah, a sunny stop along my month-long travels! Chocolates, cookies, small books and of course, Champagne! The framed photo – the Oberoi Welcome Committee took the time to follow me along my Camel Caravan and chose the photo as a delightful reminder of my Moroccan Journey! Best Welcome Ever! Did I mention the family history of hospitality?!

Royal Villa with private pool is plopped at the end of the property with a large, heated pool, manicured gardens, and sunny terraces. This is the ultimate two-bedroom Palace! There is a separate living room with a fireplace, a dining room, and a fully equipped kitchen. All the rooms are structured around a central patio with a water fountain; a pure spring that refreshes the entire space and gives life to the soul.

Take a spiritual detour to the Capital S Spa, focused on well-being, the engraved plaster wall of the spa building reads: Eternal Health…espousing a high level of wellness! Traditional Moroccan culture esteems water as a means of spiritual cleansing; a medium for self-reflection, contemplation, and purification. Thus, the location of the spa is highly symbolic. As you cross the lake to The Oberoi Spa, they would like you to leave the outside world behind and turn your focus inwards as you embark upon a unique journey to wellbeing. Resting rooms gaze at a tranquil lake, your pulse drops to a low beat. A resident Ayurvedic doctor and therapists from the Oberoi Sukhvilas Spa are in residence. Large well outfitted gym, indoor pool, and a hammam.  Reserve early, it’s a tranquil haven.

What Else? I never miss a wander through a hotel boutique, especially adore a shop which includes local designers. It is one of my favorites, with well curated selection of musky scented cologne and perfumes, jewelry, local designer clothing and fine ceramics.

On a morning stroll, I discovered a heartwarming sight: a corral with two rescue donkeys! Donkeys in Morocco have hard lives, these two adorable steeds enjoy a five-star life at the Oberoi. What hotel do you know of with rescue donkeys? A visit to Morocco guarantees a love of these gentle hard-working animals. I was thrilled to meet Sugar & Brownie who wear fringed masks to keep the flies off their face. Typical Oberoi elegance and kindness!? They love breakfast fruit or ask your butler for carrots or donkey treats! Sugar loves his back rubbed!

Pillow Menu – Yes! Duck Down pillows, Buckwheat Pillows, Memory Foam Pillows, Dual Zone, Body Pillow! Please call housekeeping to ensure you have a comfortable sleep!

Celebrated for enlightened service, the Oberoi family founded the Grand Hotel in Calcutta in 1939, they can teach quiet understated service. Highly Recommend a leisurely long stay outside the Marrakesh fray.

Oberoi Marrakech

Cairo Dining Naguib Mahfouz Café

Local Food. Feted by George Fawzi and Amani Fouad, the owners of Cairo based Excel Travel who hosted our Egyptian excursion, our small group of agency owners assumed we were having a quick cocktail, a hello and good bye with the gracious couple and their management team. Egyptian hospitality is legendary, and we were very surprised by the sumptuous catered dinner in their gorgeous garden. Plus, they included the GM’s and their spouses of the local five-star hotels and Amit Lakhanpal, the GM of the Oberoi Beach Resort, Sahl Hasheesh Red Sea, Egypt, truly a five-star evening. The perfect send off after a glorious Egyptian Journey.

Naguib Mahfouz Cafe in the bazaar, Old Cairo

On my list of dining spots was the historic café Naguib Mahfouz Café operated by Oberoi Resorts. This amazing historic cafe is a welcome respite from the masses in the busy bazaar. Without my guide, I would have never discovered the location, Amit had offered to make me a lunch and dinner reservation, insisting I must not miss this celebrated gem.This restaurant and café was originally called Khan El Khalili, but Naguib Mahfouz’s continuous visits, and his winning of the Nobel Prize inspired the name change, it’s tucked away in the mysterious labyrinth of Khan el Khalili Bazaar.

The cafe opened in 1989 and is a tribute to the famous Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz who won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988. Today, it’s run by the lavish Oberoi Hotels, but the elegant arabesque ambiance transports you back to the days of Old Cairo. It was established in 1989, the same year Naguib Mahfouz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. It became a favorite spot in Cairo for Mahfouz himself, and is very close to Al-Gamaleya area, the area where he was born. He even had a favorite table where he used to sit whenever he visited. After he passed away, the café owner put Naguib Mahfouz’s pictures on the table and decorated it with many of his books.

The beautiful entrance to Naguib Mahfouz Café, descend into another world.

Cross the threshold from the ancient bazaar into another time zone. From the stunning decorative door to the classic staff uniforms, the brilliant lighting fixtures and the colorful carpets, there’s even a shoe cleaner sitting in one of the corners of the café. The café is an embodiment of the Fatimid era. The waiters are adorned with Tarboosh hats and outfitted in full regalia, the sweet smell of Hookah pipes permeate the air. Old Arabic music plays in the background and guests quietly chatter while enjoying hibiscus tea or indulging in Egyptian Chicken Shawerma. A juice bar offers frothy chilled drinks, essential in the Cairo heat!

Located in the heart of Khan el Kahlili, the Naguib Mahfouz Café is an oasis from the lively chaos of the bazaar. Naguib Mahfouz’s pictures line the walls, the titles of his books engraved in wood, complimented by exotic arabesque décor.

Who was Naguib Mahfouz? Naguib Mahfouz was a celebrated Egyptian writer considered to be one of the first contemporary writers of Arabic Literature. Born in Old Cairo in 1911, most of his early works were focused on short stories in his beloved city. Mahfouz published 34 novels, 350 short stories, many movie scripts, newspaper articles and theatrical plays. Most of his tales, including plays for the stage, explore the themes of existentialism.

Writing for well over 70 years, he won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1988, the first Arabic writer ever to be honored by a Nobel! He died in 2006 at the age of 94. Leaving a lasting legacy with his published body of work that is still very popular in Egyptian and foreign films today.

Visit the café if you are touring the bazaar for a pause and a petite repast and return in the evening to the elegant restaurant. In the evening, arrive late as the city truly wakes up for dinner late in the evening. Once the clock ticks 9 or 10 pm, sit back and enjoy charming local oriental music with singers performing classic songs. An extensive menu offers delectable bites and full dinners. Linger and soak in the atmosphere! A broad menu of local dishes is offered: Lamb Kofta, Hawawshi, Baladi Oriental Sojouk, Meat Shawerma, Chicken Shawerma, Alexandrian Liver.

5 El Badestan Lane, Khan El Khalili, Down Town, Cairo, Egypt.