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Owned by the king of Morocco and, in my opin­ion, one of the world’s most beau­ti­ful ho­tels, the Royal Man­sour in Mar­rakesh is a show­case for ex­em­plary lo­cal crafts­man­ship – stained glass, flaw­less mar­quetry and in­tri­cate mo­saics are just a few of the many vis­ual trea­sures end­lessly on show. The re­sort com­prises just 53 im­mense pri­vate ri­ads (each with plunge pool) and fea­tures an ex­cep­tional spa, while the team can ar­range all man­ner of ro­man­tic ex­cur­sions, from a pri­vate din­ner in a Be­douin tent to a jaunt in the At­las moun­tains in a vin­tage side car.

The ho­tel’s three-night hon­ey­moon pack­age in­cludes break­fast, one din­ner and two spa treat­ments per per­son; it costs from £2,798 (royal­man­ pri­vate-is­land re­treats, North Is­land and Fre­gate Is­land Pri­vate each of­fer ex­cep­tional ser­vice and empty, golden beaches. Split a stay be­tween both prop­er­ties to ben­e­fit from North’s su­pe­rior aes­thet­ics and culi­nary of­fer­ing, and Fre­gate’s dra­matic cliff-top pri­vate pools and im­mer­sive na­ture ac­tiv­i­ties.

Scott Dunn of­fers a three-night stay at North Is­land, fol­lowed by four nights at Fre­gate Is­land Pri­vate, from £42,420 in­clud­ing board, he­li­copter trans­fers and in­ter­na­tional flights (

there is per­haps no tour op­er­a­tor that tops the ef­forts of Based on a True Story. Though the com­pany or­gan­ises just 10 or so a year, each hon­ey­moon is a metic­u­lously con­structed, mul­ti­fac­eted af­fair that might in­cor­po­rate syn­chro­nised pri­vate per­for­mances with scores or per­haps even hun­dreds of par­tic­i­pants. Itin­er­ar­ies span con­ti­nents and com­mer­cial flights or shared trans­fers are anath­ema – it’s pri­vate jets and su­pery­achts all the way. The min­i­mum rate for a Based on a True Story hon­ey­moon is £500,000, but prices can tip £5 mil­lion.

They are astro­nom­i­cal sums but, for CEO Niel Fox, such high prices are an in­evitabil­ity given his clients will al­ready have stayed in ho­tels’ best suites and are blasé about Miche­lin­starred meals and but­ler ser­vice. He needs to let his imag­i­na­tion run riot, which is an ex­pen­sive busi­ness. Says Fox: “We’re adding a layer of magic to hon­ey­moons, and that is more im­por­tant to me than the ob­vi­ous blue­print of lux­ury – the jets, the yachts, it’s all ar­bi­trary. We pro­vide a level of cre­ativ­ity above all of that – one that is of­ten a com­plete sur­prise. That’s where we stand alone in this in­dus­try.”

In­vari­ably vet­eran glo­be­trot­ters al­ready, his hon­ey­moon­ers of­ten don’t even stip­u­late where they want to go and in­stead in­di­cate the types of ex­pe­ri­ences they value. On one

LIV­ING MU­SEUMVilla Sola Cabi­ati on Lake Como, Italy

IN STEPWatch Mex­i­can dancers with Based on a True Story

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