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It's Good to be the King

Reporter is feted at lavish hotel, writes about lavish experience. Does it get any better?

2:05 PM, Jul 26, 2010 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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Travel writing can be tough, despite what you might think. You're jotting down notes about the beautiful sunset, rather than just watching it. Coming up with the right words is a constant struggle. And still I wonder with great envy how Toni Bentley, a ballerina and author, landed the plum assignment of reviewing the Royal Mansour hotel in Marrakech, Morocco, for the Wall Street Journal, which, according to her description, sounds like the most opulent and extravagant hotel in the world.

The experience begins on the tarmac at the Marrakech airport when an arriving guest is whisked out of the line of weary travelers, led to a quiet room and offered sustenance while passports and baggage tags are collected. Within minutes one is escorted out of the airport into a discreet shiny black Mercedes.

Staying at the Royal Mansour costs a minimum of $1,928 per night (for a one-bedroom) and as much as $38,552 for the deluxe residence (the Riad d'Honneur). The palace was built by order of the king at an unknown price—just the royal request for it to be the best Morocco has to offer. Bentley describes the architecture in intricate detail. And of course the service is superior:

The riads [residential suites] are serviced by a vast staff—the hotel employs 500, a ratio of 10 per riad—who arrive, unseen, from beneath. The hotel has a parallel underground city where the staff drive golf carts and can enter each riad through hidden elevators. Each riad has two butlers, on alternating shifts, and they will simply do or arrange anything for you.

Anything? The mind reels.

As for the idea of being treated like royalty, it's not original. Long before King Mohammed VI even dreamed of the Royal Mansour, another great man envisioned a place where guests would be treated as if they were the king of the castle—conveniently located just off Exit 38B on the Garden State Parkway.

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