There's a risk involved with booking into the Royal Palm Marrakech. You could quite easily drive through the gates on to the vast estate with its thousands of olive trees (they press their own oil here), world-class golf course, four restaurants, chic bar and sports centre, then check into your suite or villa and feel so comfortable that you never actually bother to take the 15-minute cab ride to see inside Marrakech's city walls.
Opened last December, this is the Beachcomber group's first venture outside the Indian Ocean, and there is more than a hint of luxury about the place.
Designed by Mauritian architect Jean-François Adam, the resort's monumental scale is evident from the moment you walk into the cathedral-sized reception, all dark cedar wood with stucco and polished stone flooring. Despite being landlocked you can see water through the floor-to-ceiling picture window – the hotel's 200sq m heated outdoor swimming pool, set against the backdrop of the white Atlas Mountains.
Moroccan architectural touches and traditional materials have been incorporated into the modern design of the main building and the outlying accommodation and leisure blocks.
If you do drag yourself away from the beautifully maintained grounds, you'll recognise the archways, lime plaster, wooden lattice work, ceramic tiles and Berber geometric designs from local landmarks such as La Medersa Islamic college.
The hotel's kitchens might be headed up by a classical French chef, but you will find local fare on offer at the first-floor Al Ain, which has an al-fresco terrace and outdoor oven where traditional dishes such as tagine are prepared. Le Caravanne offers an international menu, while Le Palm showcases French fine dining. A long, lazy lunch of fish from Essaouira at the poolside L'Olivier restaurant is not to be missed.
Sports facilities include tennis and squash courts, a pilates studio, Kinesis workout stations and that golf course. The large kids' club is absurdly well equipped with its own swimming pool, child-sized tennis courts, treehouses and dozens of toys and games, as well as a TV.
At the time of my visit, the spa and golf clubhouse were in the process of being built, but both are now open, with the spa offering treatments using Clarins products.
The hotel is located just over seven miles south of Marrakech's pink city walls, where you'll find all the main tourist attractions including the souk, Djemaa El-Fna (the main square with its buskers and food stalls), and is a similar distance from Menara Airport. Both journeys take about 15 minutes by taxi (the hotel also provides a free shuttle service into the city).
The grand scale of the place isn't limited to the public areas. You could almost set up your own souk in one of the 124 suites (all with a view of the golf course and mountains). I stayed in a "Senior Suite" in the Residence Bullman building, which included a spacious lounge with oversized television, work desk, coffee maker and complimentary soft drinks.
The geometric Berber designs incorporated into the rugs, upholstery and wall hangings saved the otherwise contemporary decor from blandness, and the extremely comfortable king-sized bed offered a very good night's sleep.
The bathroom/walk-in wardrobe is one of the most spacious and well-designed I've seen in a hotel, with marble flooring, beautiful glazed Moroccan tiling, a swimming-pool sized square marble bath, twin vanity units and huge wetroom with powerful rain-shower head. There are endless closets and drawers and a well-lit dressing table with three-sided mirror.
The large balcony has plenty of seating, and though you're not far from the city, the hotel's site, on the relatively undeveloped El Haouz plains, means there's hardly a sound to be heard.
Royal Palm Marrakech, Km 12 Route D Amizmiz, Morocco (01483 445685; beachcombertours.co.uk)
Doubles start at DH4,073 (£288), including breakfast
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