Marrakesh Resort and Spa, Hua Hin – A Review By Punam Mohandas
I have oft been intrigued by the facade of the Marrakesh Resort whenever I passed by it, as it promised to provide a slice of authentic Moroccan architecture within a sleepy beach town of Thailand. Having stayed here recently, I can state that the promise – and premise – are justified. A lot of considered thought has gone into the design structure and furnishings of this hotel.
A short, narrow driveway leads to an arched entrance in a pale rose colour from the centre of which hangs a gigantic chandelier shaped like a lamp. Leading in, a large, low, round stone urn decorated by white flowers is placed on a stone flooring that has a narrow black-and-white mosaic tiled design in a square setting around its edges. The urn itself is on a slightly raised, hexagonal platform. The sound of gently falling water accompanies one to the Reception area, a long, narrow, pillared room open at the back; a half wall here has recesses in which coloured lamps are placed, while water gushes softly from spouts into circular stone basins. The pillars are done up in the same pale rose while the marbled floor in the lobby has a zigzag design. Filigreed, metal lamps in black with glass panels form the centrepiece. On either end of the lobby space are curtained partitions screening semi-circular seating on stone benches and the same hanging lamps.
The Marrakesh Resort offers 76-keys in four room types: Jacuzzi Suite, Fountain Pool Suite, Ocean Front Suite and Celestial Suite. In fact, all the rooms – except the Fountain Pool which are private pool suites – have jacuzzis. The rooms are in three blocks that are inter-connected by a main passage (lifts are available) and labelled with themes such as ‘Wandering One’s Own Path,’ ‘Follow the Stars Home’ and ‘The Journey.’
Interestingly, the rooms to the right side of the corridor (overlooking the sea) are all done up in blue whilst the rooms to the left overlooking the garden) have a dull red colour palette.
The Jacuzzi Suites have the jacuzzis on the terraces and offer a marvellous swimming pool view and thence beyond, to the sea. The bed headboard is in black and serves as the room divider. There are lovely, full-length mirrors in a pale turquoise blue clear glass, framed by the narrow, rounded arches so typical of Morocco. The bathroom flooring is in shimmering blue glass chips while the twin, circular washbasins are in pale blue. Suggestion: The lighting can be improved here as it gets a trifle dark with all the blue overtones.
A similar room on the opposite side of the corridor is much bigger in size with ochre walls and flooring in brown and red glass chips, and clear glass washbasins. The fawn-coloured divan has cushions in brown and ochre, while the bed cushions and runner are in red, as are the water glasses.
The Fountain Pool rooms are similar except that they have private swimming pools, with no jacuzzis.
The Ocean Front category is really spacious. There is a large screen television discreetly to one side. The same filigreed black hanging lamps feature in the room. There is a double divan in blue with scattered cushions in dull blue and stripes. Facing this is a double bathtub! with jacuzzi!Housekeeping has thoughtfully placed towels nearby, along with three different fragrances in bath crystals.
There is a chaise lounge in front of the bed with grey and turquoise cushions.
The bed sensibly faces the swimming pool and beyond, the sea. A very wide balcony has two sun loungers and a typically Middle Eastern brass table.
The bathroom is a narrower space – but not uncomfortably so. Indeed, the shower cubicle with rain shower is quite roomy and has a ledge to sit on as well. Circular glass and tasseled lamps flank each of the round, pale blue washbasins; an engineering flaw here is that the taps are too low.
The two Celestial Suites have round jacuzzis instead of the bathtubs and otherwise have the same view and design pattern as the Ocean View suites. The terrace is accessed by a winding staircase. It gives on to sweeping sea scapes and has a canopied diwan seating where romantic dinners can be served.
Wooden camel artefacts serve as ashtrays and vases in all the rooms while curtains are really beautiful; white, gauzy cotton with a lacy pattern on the bottom three quarters. Quite remarkable. As mentioned, a lot of care has gone into the decor of the rooms, all of which come equipped with electronic safe, minibar, tea/coffee maker, electric mosquito repellent, torch and Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries.
The F&B outlets are the all-day dining, 100-covers Al Hamra and the approximately 60-covers Al Bahr Beach Bar that serves snacks and drinks through the day and later, cocktails and dinner, where bean bags are set out on the faux grass lawn overlooking the beach, creating a magical setting. There is also live entertainment in the form of a couple of crooners. Suggestion: the music gets really loud and drowns out the soothing shush of the waves, apart from being disturbing for those who have retired early and whose rooms overlook the pool; perhaps the hotel could look into this.
There are really good deals on F&B on all the time, especially the one from 11pm-2am where the pizzas or prawns with rice are at just THB 126++ The hotel manages to whip up some authentic Moroccan delicacies as well, while the pastry chef must truly be commended for creating a tantalising concoction of three types of chocolate that resemble a pearl in an oyster. The ‘shell’ is quite large, made of white chocolate and available in three colours. Inside, the ‘pearl’ is a round chocolate ganache while near the shell is a large blob of melting chocolate mousse. Quite sinful and a definite must-try.
Recreation options include the swimming pool with outdoor jacuzzi overlooking the sea and a club adjacent to it where children can be kept busy learning doll painting and suchlike. There is also the Jamal Kids Club for the little people, with rockers and stuffed toys. The Fitness Centre is open 24-hours and had the basic equipment with quite a few machines, as also sauna facilities.
The Noora Spa is done up in black, with a pale grey flooring and the same filigreed lamps; surprisingly, the colour scheme is quite pleasing. All spas are meant to be tranquil, but the Moorish touch here adds that extra element of exotica and restfulness. There are seven treatment rooms, three of them single. All the doubles have bathtubs while one of them has a steam room as well. There are two (enclosed) double rooms on the outside terrace, used mainly for Thai massages.
The signature treatment at the spa is the Hammam Spa. It is a luxurious two-hour treatment, which involves a Green Tea Milk soak for about 15-minutes, followed by a body scrub of black soap and eucalyptus to exfoliate the skin; black soap is an organic product with the enriching argan oil as its base. After this, I had the Ghassoul body wrap; Ghassoul is a clay unique to Morocco. It is mixed with the extracts from plants such as lavender, rose, clove, myrtle, rosemary and urtica dioica and made into a paste by adding water, milk or yoghurt. The properties of all these ingredients serve to detoxify the skin and remove the impurities. The wrap is left on for about twenty minutes, post which one has a quick shower and settles back to enjoy an hour long massage. There are four essential oils to choose from: Starry Night, Breeze, Oasis or the signature Calming. I opted for the latter, which is a combination of sandalwood and pure Argan oil. I have to say here that the masseuse is extraordinarily skilled! A slight little thing who looks as though a puff of wind would blow her away, Khun Kung employs surprising strength as she kneads the muscles dexterously, using her hands and elbows. She gauges the muscle tension to a nicety and irons out the knots without causing any sore ligament pulls. Along with the argan oil, she is pretty much the USP of the Noora!
The Marrakesh Resort also has a little shop called – what else – The Souk, selling jewellery and artefacts from Morocco. It also allows guests to borrow the traditional Moroccan robes for a photo shoot, at THB 2,000 per couple.
Conference facilities include two meeting rooms: Taalaah I which can accommodate 120-pax theatre style and Taalaah II which can take 20-25 pax in a boardroom setting.
Overall pest control at the hotel is good and the scent of lavender pervades the property. Additionally, a mosquito repellent spray is provided in the bathrooms and offered to diners at the outdoor Beach Bar restaurant as well.
Housekeeping staff are courteous and cooperative. F&B at the Beach Bar particularly are well trained. Front Office are friendly for the main. English can be a bit of a drawback, with not all the staff being fluent in the language.
Unlike some other hotels in the vicinity that charge for the service, the Marrakesh Resort offers a free shuttle service to the town and night market areas. Most sensibly, the last shuttle back from the night market is at 10.30pm.
Almost all major international airlines fly into Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport. Once in Bangkok, there are myriad transport options of getting to Hua Hin: the beach resort has its own airport and the flight time from Bangkok is about 30-minutes. A taxi will cost THB2500 and take 2.5 hours. The minivan from Victory Monument costs THB180 per person and takes three hours, while the bus from Sai Tai Mai Terminal is at approximately the same per person and takes almost four hours. You can get a bus from the airport too at approximately THB300 per person. You could also take the train from Hua Lampong station; cheaper, but the journey takes almost six hours and tickets sometimes require to be bought in advance. If you decide on the van, ask the driver to drop you off at the Clock Tower in Hua Hin and you can coordinate with the Marrakesh Resort so that the shuttle picks you up.
THE MARRAKESH RESORT & SPA, HUA HIN
TEL: +66 32 616 777
FAX: +66 32 616 799
Punam Mohandas asserts her right to be identified as the author of this work. Any views or opinions expressed in this review is that of the author.