At the foot of the Atlas Mountains stands an elegant palace-cum-hotel with a timeless feel. Selman Marrakech, however, is unlike any other palace in Morocco. Often, palaces showcase pieces of art; Selman Marrakech, however, hosts a live collection of one of the most beautiful breeds of horse in the world – the Arabian thoroughbred.
From the interior décor dreamt up by renowned architect Jacques Garcia to the design of the buildings, Selman Marrakech honours the Moroccan way of living. The concept behind the hotel is unique in that it combines a full range of luxury offerings with a once-in-a-lifetime equestrian experience.
Guests have access to a stylish spa with innovative treatments, as well as multiple restaurants and a gorgeous pavilion, but the character of the hotel is brought alive by the presence of 26 privately bred Arabian horses.
Guests are invited to enjoy some of the best food in Marrakech, indulge in relaxing spa treatments and experience a fascinating glimpse into the equestrian world that is so integral to Moroccan culture.
The mane attraction
Arabian horses are symbols of grandeur from a bygone era. Having arrived in Morocco from Arabia in around 700 AD, they have been deeply linked to the country’s history ever since. Arabian horses are instantly recognisable by their distinctive head shape and arching neck, and are famous for their superior stamina and people-orientated nature. Over time, their integral role in war, sports and daily life has turned them into an icon of power and stamina in the country.
The spa offers guests a complete programme to help restore harmony, wellness and energy
A much-recited legend states that they are descendants of the prophet Muhammad’s five favoured horses, which he chose by orchestrating a test of their courage and loyalty. According to the legend, after a long trek across the desert, he let a herd of horses loose to run to an oasis of water. Just before they reached the oasis, he called them back, but only five of the most loyal horses resisted the temptation of the cool water to obey him and turn back. All Arabian horses are said to be descended from these loyal five.
At Selman Marrakech, guests are introduced to the purest specimens of privately bred Arabian horses. The horses are part of a breeding programme that was initiated in 2005 alongside the hotel project, and they reside in the hotel’s very own stud farm. The horses have been noticed on the international equestrian scene, and have won numerous beauty prizes in international competitions. Guests can enjoy precious moments in the presence of the thoroughbreds, which are visible from the hotel’s terraces and gardens.
In order to give visitors the best experience possible, Selman Marrakech collaborates with Sadek El Bahjaoui, an artist cavalier who exudes passion and love for horses. With El Bahjaoui, guests can experience a magical journey on horseback, or even turn their hand to dressage by taking an introductory class in the basics of dressage and free work. The Cavalier Escape is also a popular activity, which sees guests taking a trip on horseback through Berber villages.
The family dream
Like all great hotels, Selman Marrakech is rooted in a strong family history. Saida and Abdeslam Bennani Smires, siblings and owners of the hotel, are making their grandfather’s dream, which was to see his family create a project in his hometown, a reality. The siblings’ vision is to fulfil their grandfather’s wish by reviving the art of traditional Moroccan hospitality. Their presence in the hotel ensures that Selman Marrakech is an intimate, personal experience for guests, who are able to share in the dreams of their passionate hosts.
Thanks to their complementary personalities, Saida and Abdeslam have managed to develop the hotel in a way that reflects their characters as well as their family history. The Arabian horse project, for instance, was inspired by Abdeslam’s long-held passion for horses. A young man driven by endless enthusiasm, he pursued the Selman Marrakech concept so he could share his incredible equestrian experiences with others.
A horse rider himself, he regularly takes part in international competitions, and has previously been selected for the Moroccan team to compete in the Mediterranean Games. The hotel would not be the same, however, without the support of his sister Saida, who brings with her an all-important calmness and pragmatism.
A holistic approach to health
Away from the grand pool and sheltered by the main building lies Selman Marrakech’s idyllic spa, which is a true tribute to health and wellbeing. Completely secluded from the rest of the hotel, it is equipped with two heated outdoor pools, a steam room, a sauna and water jets.
The spa is reminiscent of the hammams of ancient Istanbul, and has been described by its designer, Jacques Garcia, as an oasis within an oasis. It is the experience of light and dark, shadow play, shimmering mosaic tiles and traditional plasterwork that make the spa such a blissful place in which to relax.
Arranged around a central square pool, its seven treatment rooms are hidden behind latticework screens. The vaulted ceiling is perforated to let light gently filter in from above, mimicking a starry sky. In contrast, the main room and arcade remain in semi-darkness, promoting a sense of utter calm.
The spa offers guests a complete programme to help restore harmony, wellness and energy. Treatments are crafted using the Chenot method, as guided by the world-renowned Henri Chenot Centre at Palace Merano.
Based on 40 years of experience, the Chenot method is completely unique: its mission is to rebalance the body by helping it rid itself of toxins. It restores the body’s wellbeing through a personalised care programme based on a guiding philosophy of understanding each individual in order to offer improved physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Treatments are based around the principles of Biontology, a term coined by Henri Chenot himself, who described it as “the study of the essence of life and its evolution”. Biontology was born from the combination of the fundamentals of Chinese medicine and the most advanced technology of western medicine.
Ultimately, it seeks a complete vision of the mechanics of mankind in order to work on the balance between the mind, the unconscious and the physical body, while alleviating problems relating to the ageing process, fatigue and toxins.
All of this works in accordance with a broad and interdisciplinary concept of the individual, while its principles are constantly being pursued by ongoing research in Chenot’s laboratories. For four decades, the results have been verified daily by its many loyal customers.