Fashion shoots don’t necessarily involve a cast of thousands, but to send 10 people to Marrakech to photograph “Heat of the Moment” was something of a challenge. Photographer Mario Testino, his three assistants, three models, the fashion stylists and hair and make-up artists stayed at Marrakech’s legendary pink-painted hotel, La Mamounia, a blissful refuge from the hustle, bustle and heat of the city.
Sharon Stone, Tom Cruise, Naomi Campbell and Hillary Clinton have all stayed at La Mamounia. As did Winston Churchill, who has a suite named after him. The hotel is everything you would imagine a secret hideaway in Morocco’s most vibrant city to be. Opulent and luxurious, it is dotted with little fountains — each scattered with rose petals — and seemingly every surface is covered with mosaic tiles or marble which keeps the air cool.
The standard bedrooms are located at ground level, while the better rooms higher up have great views of the garden — as exotic as the hotel with its orange trees, jacarandas, palm trees, mimosas, ancient olive trees, bougainvillea, nightingales and turtle doves — and the roofs and mosques of the city. Most rooms have balconies with a table where you can sit and enjoy the view, and from some of the suites you can see the snow-capped Atlas Mountains 40 miles away. Built into the hotel’s ramparts are three villas, with their own entrance, private garden and Jacuzzi, which are ideal for families.
The fashion team didn’t get a chance to use the hotel’s sports facilities. Nor did they havetime to go riding in the desert, visit Berber villages or go skiing, though the concierge can arrange any of these activities for guests. The team spent their time shooting in Marrakech itself — La Mamounia is only a 10-minute walk from Jemaa El Fna, the square at the centre of the city’s souk. The hotel can also arrange for a guide to take you shopping in the souk, as it’s easy to become disorientated, with all the noise, people — fire-eaters, acrobats, snake charmers, storytellers — and alleyways which look so alike. They say that the test of a great hotel is its concierge. La Mamounia’sis truly outstanding.
For their trip to Begawan Girt in Bali to shoot”Natural Selection” and “Jungle Fever”, the fashion team flew — in considerable style — with Thai Airways.The airline flies from London to its hub, Bangkok, ten times a week. From there you can fly to 22 destinations within Thailand or onwards throughout Southeast Asia and Australasia. Flights from your central London apartments to Bangkok take 11 hours and 35 minutes, and leave London on Tuesdays,Thursdays and Saturdays.