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Explainers - Profiles - July 22, 2019

Government of Morocco to Sell ‘Mythical’ Hotel Mamounia

The Government of Morocco plans to sell a part of the ‘Mythical’ Hotel Mamounia as part of its privatisation initiative announced in February 2019.

La Mamounia, which is situated the city of Marrakech is surrounded by ramparts, offering beautiful views of the Atlas, with an 8-hectare garden, the hotel has played host to some of the most prominent and powerful figures of the world including Winston Churchill, Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, Mick Jagger, Edith Piaf, and Jacques Chirac.

Government of Morocco to Sell ‘Mythical’ Hotel Mamounia

The government is expecting revenues of more than MAD 5 billion with its privatisation programme amongst which is the Mamounia Hotel, among other public institutions.

The mythical palace which took its name from its magnificent gardens of Prince Mamoun, was built in the early 1920s by French architects Henri Prost and Antoine Marchisio.

Originally, in the 1920s, the hotel aimed to attract mainly long-stay clientele and included only fifty rooms on one floor. The painter Jacques Majorelle (whose villa and garden are one of the major attractions of Marrakech) decorated the lounge bearing his name. After the Second World War, the number of rooms reached 100.

King Hassan II began a series of renovations in the 1980s. The hotel had a fourth floor, an additional wing, and a casino, and its capacity reached 200 rooms.

The last major renovation was launched in 2009 by King Mohammed VI. The three years of work and decoration revisited by Jacques Garcia cost $120 million.

The hotel now exceeds 200 rooms, has expanded its pool and has a large spa. The Mamounia is an example of traditional Moroccan crafts with its zelliges (local mosaics), lanterns, ironwork, or “tadelakt” (lime wall covering tinted with pigments).

The privatization of Marrakech’s jewel caused public concern. People feared that La Mamounia would fall into foreign hands. Finance Minister Mohamed Benchaaboun hastened to reassure the public that “the hotel will remain Moroccan.”

It is very likely that the Moroccan State will give up only a part of the hotel’s capital. The National Office of Railways (ONCF) currently owns 62% of the hotel, the rest is the property of the Deposit and Management Fund (Caisse des dépôts de gestion) and the municipality of Marrakech.

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