Monday, December 31, 2012

Designer I Love: Brilliant San Francisco interior designer Benjamin Dhong

Ben recently completed superbly creative and elegant interiors for a modern San Francisco house. 

Come with me for a highly detailed insider visit to Ben Dhong’s newest design, a residence for a finance executive in San Francisco’s Marina. 

I’ve admired Ben since he dramatically changed courses seven years ago, leaving the world of finance to intern with designer Martha Angus. He launched his own design firm, Benjamin Dhong Interior Design five years ago. 

Today, Ben works for clients around the country, stars in showcase houses, and has his work published in House Beautiful.

This week, we are taking a close look at Ben’s approach to design, his concepts, and his decorating tips.

Scroll down, and you’ll find detailed credits—including where to buy the ‘super-bargain’ picks Ben covets.

Think of this new post as a Benjamin Dhong Design Tutorial. 

Ben says:  “I play a fun game with people and tell them that in this room is something from west elm, ikea, restoration hardware and marshalls and make them try to find it….it all proves that chic doesn’t have to be expensive. We slipcovered the banquette to keep it soft and chose white to make it disappear – plus it can be washed!

We made the pillows large but few – in order to keep some order but at the same time make the space feel very laid-back.”

The owner, who is English, forty-one years old, told Ben at the start of the project that he wanted an uber-uber modern house. Ben always assesses clients to see who they are rather than merely depending on what they say. His client drives an Aston Martin, wears bespoke suits and has a devilishly charming English personality. Ben decided, his client is definitely not uber-modern. So he designed a house that reflected a cosmopolitan European feeling (collected) with strong doses of modern to make it feel fresh. 

Ben Dhong, photo by Moanalani Jeffrey.

I’ve admired Benjamin Dhong’s design and aesthetic since he first made a name for himself as an assistant to the great San Francisco designer, Martha Angus. 

Ben brings a very fresh approach to classical design. I note his naturally optimistic nature, his gregarious approach to finding antiques and art and his love of design. His learning is voracious and open-minded—essential attributes for a designer working today. 

Ben Says: “Our inspiration was a chic London salon at nighttime. with a sexy Tom Ford vibe.

Our inspirations were Karl Springer, Brancusi, Morocco. It’s all about sensuous textures here. Velvets, silk, parchment, mohair. Nothing too glitzy but the layering of textures gives it a very indulgent feel – but not over the top.

We made lots of small seating areas to create cozy nooks to gather – game table, window seat – including tearing out a built in cabinet to create a Moroccan inspired nook.” 

photo by David Duncan Livingston

Ben Says: “This room is all about my love of contrasts and how to highlight what you love about something by pairing it with something that brings out that essence.

The plaster medallion of king gustav pops like a piece of modern sculpture. The wallpaper’s field of gold blocks creates a sumptuously modern backdrop.

The polished silver Saarinen style base pops against the carpet, which seems to highlight anything that sits on it. The Louis XVI-style chairs bring a certain gravitas to the room.” 

Ben Says: “This is the top of the landing to the private areas…the master bedroom floor.

Continuing the cloud theme from the entry I wanted something light, airy, with a bit of whimsy. I love the juxtaposition of the formality and richness of the commode (who doesn’t love gilded feet!) with the dreamy naïveté of an oar-less rowboat floating away in the clouds.” 

Ben Says:  “The fireplace is flanked by two grisaille wallpaper screens from Tara Shaw. I love grisaille because it brings in so much texture and pattern without being too disruptive.

The bed is unapologetically modern. Pure geometry. I like canopy beds because they create this room within a room. Very cozy for large spaces.

“The Directoire-style bed gave the room a decidedly elegant personality against the more casual jute carpeting on the floor. I use this room to teach my clients about the benefits of keeping a room neutral until the end. The bedding and the throw are the only colored items. We could change the color accent tomorrow in a flash.

The simple Parsons table from west elm is one of my mainstays. It’s so simple and works with any style. I like to tuck stools underneath to layer more texture and make it more like a functional hotel room.

Ben Says: “The client is English, so we wanted to do a few nods to Britannia. What could be more fabulous than an homage to the Raj, so we jokingly call it the “Opium Den”.

The wallpaper is hand painted by de Gournay …aptly called “views of old India”. I’m mad about the sepia grey colors. It’s so romantic and transporting. The perfect backdrop for our “stage set”.

The daybed is simply over the top by the ever talented Michelle Nussbaumer of Ceylon et Cie. We had it designed so it could also serve as extra sleeping.

We didn’t want to make the room too thematic and predictable so we mixed in a few unexpected touches…modern leather sofa and back painted glass side tables, modern lamps.” 

photo by David Duncan Livingston

This is a teeny sliver of a space. Perhaps no more than 40 inches wide. But we wanted a bit of drama but short of flamboyance

I also wanted it to distill what we were doing throughout the house…a perfect balance of old & new, light & dark, precious & humble, expressive & restrained

The French trumeau is 1810, Empire -- something grand yet still restrained. 

Ben Says:  “We hit the jackpot when we located the nineteenth- century chair and desk clock.

French Empire? Bronze swans and stars? Blackamoor desk clock? They’re so stylistically retrograde they’re futuristic! A Gothic architectural fragment in plaster brings in texture and history.

“To create the perfect backdrop we covered the walls in a gorgeous jute linen. The rivets create the geometric backdrop and rhythm for the room while also lending an anachronistic element. Btw, Lining up all those rivets was no easy task. Phil Mcdonald our wallcovering guru was such a master that every last rivet is perfectly aligned.” 

The Wisdom of Ben:

I like creating confident rooms in which everything is not shouting at you “look at me”. It’s a low-keyed confidence. The ability to pair the precious with the humble. One of my joys is to elevate the humble and treat the valuable as an everyday object

For years I couldn’t figure out if I’m a traditionalist that likes modern things or a modernist that has a strong sense of history. I’m now comfortable with dropping the labels. Beautiful design is timeless.

I’m very intuitive and I try to discern early on what client desires and how they wish to live. I always try to find the emotional quotient. They might not be expressing it verbally but there is always an emotional need that needs to be fulfilled. I try to meet that.

I love creating ethereal and serene spaces. The balance the palette, materials, shapes etc. exude a serenity. Not to say that I don’t inject bold gestures, however they are always balanced

I love layering textures in the same color tones. It brings a richness in a very understated way.

I adore contrasts. There is a wonderful tension between the contrast of a rough linen with a rich velvet, or a distressed wood with a silver bowl. I find that tension exhilarating.

Great thought goes into the combination of a room. Some pieces must speak, while others must be sotto voce. The addition of a new piece may very well require removing something to keep it balanced.

“My color schemes tend to be muted and restrained,” noted Dhong. “I get color whiplash going through houses where all the rooms are dramatically different colors.”

The artist in me sees furniture as sculpture. There’s an elegant dialog between furnishings that requires a deft hand. I’m very good at keeping rooms balanced. Sometimes going to the edge, but never crossing it.

I like my rooms to have a bit of intellectual heft…A sense of history and erudition but never pompous.

My color schemes tend to be muted and restrained. Beautiful shell tones allowing a few select pieces to punch. I get color whiplash going through houses where all the rooms are dramatically different colors.

I especially enjoy when there is a collaborative client. Good design is a process and the give and take between good clients can produce a superior end result. 

When people say are you Traditional or Modern, I say "Why Yes I am!"

Livable elegance is what everybody wants right now. Order, but not perfection. My clients say, ‘I want something modern in spirit but warm and rich.’ I think everyone now falls somewhere between modern and traditional. They’ve seen it all, everything, and they want it all – beauty and practicality, formal and relaxed, old and new, serene and stimulating.

So instead of limiting ourselves, we strove to create a curated layered home that reflected his personality and lifestyle.

I think that is today's Modern. 

photo by David Duncan Livingston



Chinoiserie Day Bed: Inspired by a Chippendale design, manufactured by Ceylon et Cie

Wallcovering: Views of Old India, panels hand-painted by de Gournay.

Side Chair: Upholstered in Belgian Linen manufactured by Restoration Hardware.

Pair of side tables: Verre eglomise mirror cocktail cubes by World’s Away.

Pair of table lamps: gold disk table lamps by Robert Abbey

Brass side table: Hans Barbell Table by Jonathan Adler.

Rug: Jute Bali weave carpet manufactured by Merida Meridian

Union Jack Flag: found at Vagabond Vintage.


Dining chairs: Vintage Louis XVI Style chairs, Tara Shaw Antiques

Wallcovering: turquoise and gold geometric metallic pattern, “Margot,” by Sandberg

Dining table: hammered nickel table base by Julian Chichester and vintage Knoll top from Converso

Chandelier: white plaster from Donzella Gallery.

Statue: “Attitude” by Paul van Lith, Erickson Fine Art Gallery.

Relief: Plaster Medallion of King Gustav from Real Gustavian.

Carpet: custom turquoise and cream diagonal stripe wool carpet, designed by Benjamin Dhong.


Wallcovering: Fornasetti design by Cole & Son.

Mirror: Entwined Dolphins Mirror, manufactured by Carvers Guild

Table: faux bois demi-lune table, manufactured by Oly Studio.


Banquette: slipcovered in a relaxed linen, by Patricia Edwards.

Pair of lounge chairs: slipcovered in Belgian linen, manufactured by Restoration Hardware

Dining table: custom top in cerused white oak designed by Benjamin Dhong, reproduction Saarinen style table base.

Dining Chair: Vernon Panton chair, Lumens Light and Living

Photograph: “Yew Bushes in Perspective at Sceaux,” by William Curtis Rolf.

Cocktail table: Distressed Ionic Capital Coffee Table, manufactured by Restoration Hardware.

Pair of side tables: Asian style brass side tables by James Montt, purchased from Coup d’Etat

Architectural remnant on wall: Wooden Urn Fragment from Tara Shaw Antiques.

Jeff Koons piece: Blue Balloon Dog Plate by Jeff Koons through the Gagosian Gallery. 


Wallcovering: Hempcloth wallpaper manufactured by Kneedler Fauchere Imports.

Bed: Directoire Bed Upholstered in Belgian Linen, manufactured by Restoration Hardware.

Linens: Two-toned border sheets by Williams-Sonoma Home

Throw: yin yang blanket, Truly Swedish design.

Side table: White Lacquer “Parsons Mini Desk” manufactured by West Elm

Lamp: Antique brass and glass table lamp by Circa Lighting

Wall Art: Wooden Sunburst piece from Wisteria.


Wallcovering: Fine Hempcloth in Lunar Gray, manufactured by Kneedler Fauchere Imports

Sofa: Belgian slope arm sofa, upholstered in Belgian linen, manufactured by Restoration Hardware with Lavender Dupioni Silk throw pillows in “ Orchid” by Pindler & Pindler.

Pair of chairs: Swivel Egg Chairs upholstered in charcoal gray wool from Lexington Modern.

Banquette: custom design by Benjamin Dhong and Matthew MacCaul Turner, upholstered in platinum grey velvet.

Side Chair: Swedish Bergere Chair by Tara Shaw Antiques, upholstered in a simple white duckcloth.

Game table: Game Table attributed to Karl Springer, Larry Reilly Collection.

Game table chairs: vintage parchment covered chairs by Grosfeld House through Sputnik Modern, upholstered in Goatskin.

X-Bench: Toscane Nailhead bench, upholstered in Belgian linen, manufactured by Restoration Hardware.

Cocktail Table: Karl Springer Goat Skin table, John Salibello Antiques.

Demi-lune console table: Vintage Patina Console Table, Z Gallerie.

Chest: custom ebonized buffet w/solid bronze trim from Old Plank Road

Rug: blue and grey plush carpet by Stark Carpet

Pair of floor lamps: Polished Nickel from Robert Abbey

Sculpture: White Plaster Sculpture, by Emily Scheibal, through Myra Hoefer Design.

Painting over fireplace: Refraction (Grey), by Bernadette Jiyong Frank, from Dolby Chadwick Gallery. Photograph over sofa: “Staircase,” by William Curtis Rolf

Pair of mirrors: convex “Laurel” mirrors from Downtown.

Pair of Indian tables: Mother of pearl and wood Egyptian Moroccan side tables, E. Kenoz.

Faux fur throw: plum fur “Zambia” Throw from Z Gallerie.

Pair of garden stools: ceramic celestial cloud stools from Van Cleve Collection.

Pair of brass seahorses: pair of antique brass Venetian Seahorses from Parc Monceau.


Wallpaper: silk wallcovering by Lori Weitzner Design Inc.

Bed: white cerused oak frame, custom design by Benjamin Dhong and Matthew MacCaul Turner.

Pair of stools: Toscane Nail head bench upholstered in Belgian Linen, manufactured by Restoration Hardware.

Throw pillow on bed: Candace Barnes.

Nightstands: vintage brass and marble side tables, from Fat Chance.

Pair of lamps: Gold murano glass table lamps from William Switzer.

Rug: silk and wool raised pattern carpet, The Rug Company.

White chair: Eames La Chaise Lounge Chair by Vitra from New Hampshire Antique Co-op.

Pair of commodes: custom white oak Rueil commodes with Lucite pulls manufactured by Jean de Merry.

Wall panels: Pair of Italian grisaille panels from Tara Shaw Antiques.

Pair of round wall mirrors: Pair of C. Jere antique brass mirrors from Polished Modern San Francisco.

Three white covered jars: Vintage Ceramic Jars, Kenny Pacada.

Statue (on mantle): plaster and concrete with a wood base, Flowering Nereid, by Paul van Lith from Erickson Fine Art Gallery.

Bed linens: Vintage washed Belgian Linen Duvet Cover and pillow cases, Prairie Matelasse coverlet, made by Restoration Hardware.


Desk Chair: French Empire style fauteuil from Daniel Stein Antiques.

Desk: reclaimed aviator wing desk made by Restoration Hardware.

Artwork: lunar photograph in a custom finish and frame manufactured by Pictopia.

Table Lamp: Alabaster and Brass Table Lamp, Matt Murphy Studio.

Clock: French Gold Dore Clock with Blackamoor Figure, Drum and Co.

Wallcovering: Phillip Jeffries Inc.


Wallcovering: faux bois paper manufactured by Nobilis.

Mirror: 18th Century Directoire trumeau mirror from Regalo Antiques.

Base of sink: white plaster “Branche” console from Myra Hoefer Design.

Pair of wall sconces: Thomas O’Brien for Circa Lighting.


Chest of drawers: Bianca commode manufactured by Rose Tarlow.

Painting: “Le bateau dans les nuages" by Quinn Scheibal, through Myra Hoefer Design.

Accessories: conservatory model manufactured by Restoration Hardware, coral on gold painted base from Tritter Feefer. 


All photography is by Lisa Romerein.

Lisa Romerein

, based in Santa Monica, photographs for many publications including C magazine, House Beautiful and Santa Barbara magazine. 

She is the photographer for ANN GETTY INTERIOR STYLE, by Diane Dorrans Saeks

 (published in 2012 by Rizzoli International.)

All photography used here with express permission of Lisa Romerein and House Beautiful magazine, where this story was first published.

House Beautiful Decorating Director Doretta Sperduto directed this photo shoot.


t: 415.595.2582
f: 415.449.3419

Steven Rajninger owner of Locus AIA now a principal at Herman Coliver Locus architecture

415 495.1776
363 Clementina Street, San Francisco, CA

Monday, December 24, 2012

Dateline Marrakech: Meet Me at Amanjena

Time and the Universe:  Three days recently at the romantic Amanjena resort hotel, a few miles outside Marrakech, was a journey out of time.

During my visit, I discovered hallucinatory Gnaoua music, enjoyed the early morning silence in the gardens, walked beneath the brilliant night sky, spent hours in a steamy hammam, and in the evenings marveled at Andalusian lute music.

Tranquil and mysterious, my visit was pure escape.

Amanjena’s terra-cotta colored walls echo those of Al Medina al Hamra (the red city), as well as the Berber villages of the High Atlas Mountains. 

Gracious Oasis:
Private, ultra-luxurious, and poised beside a tranquil lake near the city of Marrakech, Amanjena was one of my favorite discoveries in Morocco.

Under the direction of the resident manager, Joana Guimaraes, the hotel custom-shapes a visit to the taste and style of the guest. It offers the kind of warm, intuitive and low-key approach I appreciate.

In the early evening after I’d spend a day whirling through hidden souks in the Medina to find pale turquoise hand-made slippers, and lovely necklaces of ancient trade beads, I wanted to rest and read and write notes.

My butler brought sweet mint tea, then lit the fire in my suite living room. It was a pyromaniac’s dream. Flames leapt and danced. I put down my book and watched the fire, sparks flying.

Later, he brought some savory bites along with the menu of the resort’s menu for me to peruse, in advance of dinner. Perfect. 

Water is a unifying element at Amanjena.

Moroccan marble fountains are strewn with rose petals in the resort’s entrance colonnade.

Flowing water is considered a gift in this desert country, a symbol of grace and abundance.

Marrakech, formerly desert, was brought to radiant life by the brilliance of 11th century Almoravid irrigation. Central to the resort is an ancient bassin, an irrigation pool, inspired by Marrakech’s twelfth century Menara Gardens. 

Opened in February 2000, Amanjena is the first Aman resort on the African continent. It’s located on the southern road to Ouarzazate.

This is the gateway to the Sahara Desert and the High Atlas Mountains command the horizon. In winter, they’re dusted with snow.

Amanjena is twenty minutes from the international airport but feels far removed from care and timetables. The drive to Amanjena passes the king’s palace (well, one of them) and Agdal Gardens, a twelfth century expanse of royal gardens filled by irrigated olive orchards and bitter-orange trees.

The resort’s thirty-two hidden pavilions and six two-storey maisons radiate out from the bassin. 

Each pavilion, its high Kasbah-style walls concealing the garden and interiors, opens to a grand, multi-faceted dome.

The graduated ceiling is finished in glossy, rich, Venetian plaster, which glows in harmony with the room’s pale peach walls.

Moroccan decorative arts are featured in a very under-stated style.

Their lustrous finish is of tadlekt, a plaster treatment originally applied to waterproof hammam (steam bath) walls. 

Under the dome, the pavilion bedroom is centred by a king-size bed balanced by Berber carpets and brass lanterns. The desk is finished in Moroccan leather coupled with a cherry-wood chair. A cedar cabinet holds the TV.

Channels flow to two long canals which feed the resort gardens of olive and citrus trees, soaring date palms, orange-flame bougainvillea, pale peach hibiscus, orange- and white-blossomed rose bushes and pomegranate. 

Amanjena’s entrance colonnade, with its long, arched entrance gallery, features grand double oak doors-within-doors. Traditional in style, they were handcrafted in Agadir. A cedar ceiling soars nine meters high, supported by the colonnade’s straw-flecked columns. 

To the left of the lobby are the salons of the Bar/Fumoir. Further along is the two-storey Library, with its Arabic carpets, ceiling lanterns and upstairs gallery for fireside reading or daydreaming. 

To the right of the lobby is the Moroccan restaurant, open for dinner. Specializing in innovative approaches to the local cuisine, as well as Continental dishes, The Moroccan has more than eighty onyx columns, plâtre ciselé artwork, moucharabieh-wood screens and a commanding pyramid skylight.

The Restaurant, alongside the swimming pool, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner indoors and in a garden courtyard. Authentic Thai cuisine is featured for lunch and dinner. 

The columned Pool Terrace and the outdoor swimming pool are finished in glittering-green tiles of écaille de poisson-cut zellij (like fish scales) and adjacent to the resort’s three boutiques. 

The Hammam:

Prepare to enter a dream state.

Prepare to undress.

Prepare to drift off and dream.

This hammam/spa has private hammams, with hand-made tiles in shades of pale clay and celadon. 

The steamy ritual, which Moroccan women enjoy once or twice a week, is a series of delirious soaping, scrubbing, splashing, sluicing, washing, rinsing, rose-scented mud, eucalyptus-scented black soap, and dizzying massages with an abrasive scrub mitt.

The masseuse, a young Moroccan woman attired in a flesh-colored leotard and tights, smoothes and sluices, splashes and throws buckets of water to rinse and repeat. Hours pass.

It’s silent, enclosed, and mysterious. No effort is required. No thinking is demanded. Everything falls away.

Eventually, after who knows how long, it is time for a quiet mint tea—and, surprise, a massage and pedicure. I hear birds twittering in the garden. Is it evening already? I would hardly know.


I walked back to my pavilion through the candlelit garden, the lights flickering across the basin. No sound broke my reverie. Mind and spirit refreshed, inspired. 

Design of the resort was by Ed Tuttle, a California-born, Paris-based architect who has been responsible for so many of the Aman resoerts.

Cedar doors lead to the pavilion’s garden courtyard and views to the adjacent golf course and olive groves.

Eight pavilions have a heated pool and an extended private garden. A large lounging couch, flanked by black lanterns, rules the courtyard.

The dazzle of hand-cut glazed tiles known as zellij features in a fountain recessed into the terracotta-tiled floor. Chaises longues and candle lanterns lend a mood of Moroccan indulgence.

Amanjena’s pavilions rise seven meters from floor to ceiling in a variation of the Moroccan town house. Trines of second-floor windows look inward, as if to a garden courtyard. 

What Would Omar Do?

Expert tips on where to go and what to see:

I asked the assistant general manager of Amanjena Omar Bouzarte, for his suggestions.

One: Marrakech and the souk

A half day guided tour (the hotel has excellent guides to recommend) offers time to explore the rich history of Marrakech through the Medersa and the Marrakech museum, as well as the new photography museum. Guides will craft their walking routes to guests who want to wander through the Medina and to discover the souk.

Marrakech’s most dramatic landmark is the twelfth-century Koutoubia Mosque and its towering minaret, the tallest structure in the city.

Established in the 14th century, the Ben Youssef Medersa is among the most beautiful of Marrakech’s buildings. Recently restored, the former Islamic theological college, with its inner courtyard, makes for a peaceful interlude.

Where there are palaces, there are tombs and few more inviting than the Saadian Tombs, one of Marrakech’s most visited sites. Dating from the 16th century, the tombs are set in and about two intricately adorned mausoleums, one of which is the last resting place of Ahmed El Mansour, the greatest of the Almohad-era sultans. The central hall in Mansour’s mausoleum reveals exquisite examples of Moorish-Moroccan decorative art.

Marrakech’s medina or ancient quarter is an inner world of winding lanes, souks and streams of Marrakchi merchants and shoppers wrapped in cotton or wool djellaba.

There, in stall after stall are textiles, carpets, leather work (including babouches, the Moroccan leather slippers) and in souk after souk, jewellery, pottery, woodwork, copperware, furniture, silverware, fashions, and crafts.

A guide can take a guest, on request, to Au Fil d’Or in Souk Semmarine. Upstairs are displayed babouches for men and women, including luscious mauve suede, gray flannel, purple silk. These are a favorites of Andre Leon Talley and his Vogue pals. Bill Blass, Nan Kempner, and rosters of chic and well-dressed have been clients.

Downstairs, racks of braid-embroidered jackets, ivory silk djellabas and refined caftans. Ask the genial owners to recommend jewelers and craftsmen in this quarter. It’s very un-touristy, quiet, elegant. 

Enjoy lunch at Grand Café de la Poste, a recommendation of Joana Guimaraes, resident manager of Amanjena. With its palm trees, patterned tiled floors, ceiling fans, and (occasionally) pianist, it will remind you of ‘Casablanca’. Suggested: a dozen Oualidia oysters (from the coast south of Essaouira) washed down with a glass of chilled white. Salade Nicoise. Roast sea bass. Lunch might also include a local goat's-cheese salad, croque monsieur, or grilled sardines. A lively scene, mostly chic locals.

Trips Out:
Beyond Marrakech, escape into the High Atlas Mountains for a morning or afternoon visiting remote Berber villages and their markets. Or hike into the hills, rife with trails. For climbers, Mount Toubkal is Morocco’s highest, the third-tallest peak in Africa. In the short winter season, there is skiing in the mountain village of Oukaïmeden, just 70 kilometres south of Marrakech.

Two: Quad biking in Agafay desert
Depart from Amanjena and drive about 45 minutes towards the Lake Lalla Takerkoust.

After kitting out with safety equipment and an introduction to the vehicles, the tour in the desert landscape of Agafay begins.

After about an hour of riding explorers reach La Pause, a rustic camp and sit down for lunch.

A typical Berber lunch is served, with vegetables coming from their own garden.

After lunch quad bikes continue the tour of the desert. After the adventure and the circuit guests arrive back at the car, for iced face towels and a cold drink 

Three: Larbraa of Tighdouine

A scenic drive through the fertile valleys at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. A gentle walk through traditional Berber villages with verdant terraced fields.

After walking the paths outside mud-walled houses, explorers enjoy the hospitality of a traditional village resident and an authentic lunch made from organic products from the region. Guests may be surprised to be offered a full tour of the house and discover traditional interiors, including earthen bread ovens. 

Four: Desert Trip by Helicopter
The hotel will arrange a helicopter to take guests to the remote Sahara desert.

It is a harsh but beautiful environment, worth visiting for the scenery alone. The combination of impressive fortified kasbahs and dromedary-rides make this a memorable trip.

High Atlas Mountains: The foothills are no more than 45 minutes drive from Amanjena, past fields of corn and barley and orchards and olive trees. With their dramatic switchback roads, the mountains reveal many dazzling pieces of the past, from ancient mosques to crumbling kasbahs and Berber villages that seem as one with the cliff sides they cling to.

Five: Essaouira
A rampart-circled port, Essaouira is an historic city of white-painted buildings trimmed with electric blue. Guests may explore the medina and enjoy a seafood lunch or romantic dinner at L’Heure Bleue Palais private hotel. 

After a day of exploring the region, it’s rather wonderful to laze around the pool and do nothing, far away from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech. Dream in the warm sun. Doze in the shade. Perhaps play tennis on Amanjena’s courts.

In the evening:
At Amanjena, guests can celebrate a special occasion—wedding, engagement, birthday, anniversary, a family gathering, and the launch of a new company, in the resort’s olive garden

In a decorated traditional tent, totally private, hotel staff creates a magical journey through the flavors, scents and sounds of Morocco. The fantasy scene might include dancers and musicians and traditional singers and lute players and flames flicker in handcrafted iron braziers and cast mysterious shadows across the garden. 

Quick Travel Notes on Morocco: 

The Kingdom of Morocco is a constitutional monarchy.

Moroccans know their country as Maghrib. In Arabic, the word means ‘sunset’ or ‘west,’ acknowledging the kingdom’s place as the most western of the Arabic countries.

Bordered in the north by the Mediterranean and to the west by the Atlantic, Morocco’s coast has excellent beaches and a long and dramatic coastline. To the east are four mountain ranges and the great oases and dunes of the Sahara.

At 4,165m, Mount Toubkal, in the High Atlas Mountains, is the third highest peak in Africa.

Climate: subtropical. Morocco’s latitude is similar to that of Southern California.

Like California, Morocco’s varied landscape shapes a climate of great diversity, with extremes in the desert and mountain regions.

While travelers may not want to experience Morocco’s southern desert in July or August, summer hiking in the Atlas Mountains is a popular activity.

Summers in Marrakech are hot and dry, with temperatures reaching 38°C (100°F). Sun is the rule year-round, with occasional rain falling from October through March. Marrakech’s long temperate winters, November to April, settle in with pleasant average temperatures of 22°C (71°F). Most days are warm enough to sunbathe around the pool.


Interior images of Amanjena courtesy Aman Resorts, used with express permission.

Images of the lush palm gardens, the pools, and architecture by Diane Dorrans Saeks. Copyright, Diane Dorrans Saeks.

For more information on Amanjena and other Aman resorts around the world:

Tel: (212) 24 403 353 Fax: (212) 24 403 477
E-mail: amanjena@amanresorts