Ten lucky horses will be in heaven at The Selman Marrakech, opening in March (to guests – the Arab stallions arrive in January).
They will find stables they could only have dreamed about, designed by Jacques Garcia, of La Mamounia fame. The horses’ big stalls are in a deep blood-interior building soaring to high skylights, and they have showers and massive equine-sized hair dryers. They will also be able to frolic in leafy, fenced, pastures right next to hotel guests.
The Selman is owned by the ultra-passionate Abdeslam Bennani Smires, now all of 28. He travelled with his father extensively, had always loved hotels, went to Lausanne (hotel school) and decided to do his own.
Five years ago he flew from his Marrakech base to Paris to try and find Garcia, only to discover he was at La Mamounia but would see him the following day (Abdeslam went straight to Charles de Gaulle to pick up the first flight home).
Jacques Garcia was a bit amazed to find a developer of only 23 but he took it in his stride and said he wanted to do the entire concept. He hired architects for the purpose.
The 56-room luxury hotel, on 16 acres, is built in a C shape, two floors high, all hand-crafted flat bricks. In the middle of the C is an 80-metre sunken lap-pool of dark green Guatemalan marble.
The interiors are also pure Garcia, all tadelakt (one-colour, nearly waterproof lime plaster) walls – lobby and lounge, tall ceilings, bright blue and yellow blocks of glass in some windows, bright dayglo violet oversize seating.
Rooms are in soft grey, soft chocolate, soft gold, soft persimmon colours, with all-leather furniture with lots of studs, made at exorbitant cost in France. The spa is run by Henri Chenot, of L’Albereta – Espace Vitalité, and it has four giant outdoor pools. Frankly, the whole thing is sheer beauty.
Oh the restaurants (Italian, all-day and, later, Moroccan), oh the private villas with 15-metre pools, and oh, those lucky horses. They even have a circular walking area for yet more exercise.