|Posted by Alecia Cohen on March 15, 2017 at 9:35 AM||comments (1)|
Imagine your journey on a Morocco Private Tour. Imagine that you will be whisked away in a moment’s notice to drink wine with views of the Moroccan Coast, stay inland at a converted Palace with trickling fountains surrounded by the scent of rosewater and venture by 4x4 to a remote Desert Stone camp. Morocco’s Heritage and people lie at a crossroads where Moroccan Arabs, Berbers, Jews and Christians have lived together peacefully for centuries. The result is a country that is home to a rich Muslim and Jewish history where a unique blend of Arab, Andalusian, Berber Jewish and European traditions are alive and well. Morocco is known for it stunning cuisine and its people who are hospitable and kind.
A Morocco Private Tour offers travelers a fine balance of rural, and old world traditions combined with contemporary elegance. The sites we offer on our Top 10 Morocco Private Tour itineraries are the highlights of Moroccan cities and regions, but each region of Morocco can be developed into a special experience and our service is to curate a Private Tour to Morocco that resonates with you. Monuments and museums are a great starting place, but we encourage travelers to let us know what is relevant to them and then use our knowledge of Morocco to create an itinerary that will suit budget, time-frame, tastes, and interests. We will customize an inspirational private trip, show you Morocco’s best-kept secrets and arrange your stays at charming boutique riads and hotels.
Our tailor made private tours to Morocco include luxury transportation in a 4x4, accommodations at the Best Boutique Riads and Hotels, an English/ Multilingual Speaking Driver along with Licensed, expert Historical Guides. Whether you prefer Old cities, Roman ruins and the souks or the Sahara Desert, the High Atlas Mountains and natural wonders, we can tailor-make a tour based upon your personal interests.
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on May 25, 2016 at 6:00 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on April 13, 2016 at 7:00 AM||comments (0)|
Reconnect,Relax and Reawaken your wild at a one of Mararkech's leading retreats from August 20 – 26, 2016 at Peacock Pavilions. Co-lead by Holistic Creative Coach, Marie Milligan and Yoga Teacher, Deborah Willimott, the Wild Women Do Morocco Retreat offers a sensory-Moroccan experience that includes daily Yoga, Creative Coaching, Memorable Dining, Wild Exploration, and a true sense of Sisterhood.
Where You Will Stay: Peacock Pavilions - Located in the heart of a beautiful olive-grove, 20 minutes from Marrakech's city center this boutique guest house boasts mountain-views, rose gardens, an outdoor pool, yoga pavilion, Arabian dining tent, ethnic art and textiles, and plenty of space for privacy or shared community. Designed by Maryam Montague, owner of Montague Living and Humanitarian, this Atlas Mountain retreat is the perfect place for discovery.
Wild Women Do proposes the Ideal 7-Day Marrakech Retreat Experience. Their suggested Marrakech retreat menu brings the theme of Relax, Reconnect and Reawaken YOUR Wild alive. Always mindful of the weather and energy in the group, the Wild Women Do team bring flexibility into their menu whenever it is needed it most.
MARRAKECH- WILD WOMEN D0: 7 DAY INSPIRATIONAL RETREAT ITINERARY:
Day 1 (Saturday 20 August): Two pickups and transfers from Menara Airport. Check-in at Peacock Pavilions (PP) at 4pm. Welcome canapés and non-alco cocktails. Dinner at PP. Time to relax, switch off and explore the grounds.
Day 2 (Sunday 21 August): Introductory wellness ritual session (yoga, breathing and movement). Breakfast and lunch at PP. Creative Playshop. Free afternoon: optional relaxing Hammam spa experience or souk-shopping. Dinner at Le Jardin. Tour of the Medina, sensory-souks and hypnotic ancient and cultural Jemaa el-Fna food market and square.
Day 3 (Monday 22 August): Yoga class. Breakfast and lunch at PP. Creative Playshop. Free afternoon: relax on the grounds or take an optional cultural design visit –perhaps visit Jardin Majorelle, ride a camel near Menara, or explore Designers in the French Quarter of Gueliz. Dinner at PP. Optional movie-night in their starlit Outdoor Cinema.
Day 4 (Tuesday 23 August): Yoga class. Breakfast and lunch at PP. Creative Playshop. Free afternoon and evening: take time for you to relax by the pool and do nothing, or perhaps visit the iconic historical museums and palaces near the Medina. Optional dinner in Medina or at PP.
Day 5 (Wednesday 24 August): Yoga class. Breakfast at PP. Travel to the Atlas Mountains with lunch in Kasbah du Toubkal, a National Geographic Unique Lodge. Guided wild trek visiting Targa Imoula, an ancient Berber village. Dinner at PP.
Day 6 (Thursday 25 August): Yoga class. Breakfast and lunch at PP. Creative Playshop. Free afternoon: optional time for us to complete anything that needs supported from our inner or outer journey. Celebratory Henna-Party with local henna artisan, canapés and non-alcoholic fresh cocktails, followed by our celebratory dinner at PP.
Day 7 (Friday 26 August): Breakfast at PP. Sisterhood accountability line. Farewells and checkout of Peacock Pavilions by 12pm. Group transfers to Airport (or why not extend your travel? See below for our exclusive travel deals). 10% of Peacock Pavilion's profits from your retreat booking go to funding Project Soar. Set up by Maryam Montague, the project's mission educates under-served girls and women in the local community with access to creativity, movement and art education to inspire their creative souls.
For More Information About Wild Women Do Summer Retreat in Mararkech Email Marie Milligan at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on June 16, 2015 at 12:50 AM||comments (0)|
There’s no better place to take it all during a Boutique, Private Tour to Morocco then to stay at the Best Boutique hotels and boutique riads. Morocco offers a wide range of accommodations year round including restored medina houses, world class hotels, charming guests houses, luxury desert camps, mountain kasbahs and beach resorts. The ideal choice is to spend it in a Boutique riad given Morocco is the only destination in the world that offers this style of accommodations. Riads known for their elaborate courtyard gardens and intimate spaces are typically filled with lush, leafy green flora and fauna often centered around one or more courtyards open to the sky. Trickling fountains made of stone or marble filled with rose petals are the standard centerpieces in Moroccan Riads alongside seating where Morocco travelers can dine for an afternoon or evening meal.
A Moroccan Boutique hotel or Boutique Riad experience should be part of every Morocco travelers’ vacation plan. Riads serve as the perfect escape to read a book, enjoy a typical Moroccan meal, a sunset cocktail or simply decompress and take in the sights and sounds of an exotic setting when traveling to Morocco. The word riad or “ryad” originates from an Arabia term for garden. Boutique Riads being inward focused offer privacy from outsiders and support the ancient Islamic though of offering privacy for women. Boutique Hotels and Boutique Riads in Morocco enable travelers to step back in time and experience the ancient tradition of staying in a restored home that is prized for its traditional Moroccan or Andalusian architecture, magnificent interiors and local Moroccan cuisine. When planning a Boutique Tour to Morocco be sure to consider stays at some of Morocco's Best Hotels and Riads.
Boutique Hotels & Riads Rabat - A selection of charming, well appointed boutique riad and garden properties that offer excellent service and cuisine.
Villa Mandarine is a boutique garden hotel nestled in the heart of an orange grove on three hectares of land, Villa Mandarine perfectly marries comfort and hospitality. The property and garden filled with bouganvilla, succulents and other plantation offers a peaceful hideaway that is close proximity of Rabat’s city center. Amenities on this property include a large swimming pool, several fireplaces, a billard room, and shaded terraces to relax while surrounded by daturas and jasmine.
Riad Kalaa is a boutique riad dating from the Almoravide dynasty that was built by the Ermir Ben Tachfine on the banks for the Bouregreg river. This well appointed charming Riad in Rabat’s old medina is just steps away from the ocean. Combining Suites and Classic rooms Riad Kalaa offers a range of accommodations that are for all season. Some rooms have and open fire and others small salons. Each is specially designed with small nooks and crannies, terraces, aloves ensuring an intimate stay.
Boutique Hotels & Riad Chefchaouen - A selection of charming accommodations nestled in this blue washed Rif city. Ryad Lina is an upmarket and elegant riad centrally located in the blue washed city of Chefchaouen. It’s roof top terrace has magnificent views and the on site spa center features and indoor private pool, hammam and Jacuzzi hot tub. With views of the Rif Mountains and the medina Ryad Lina is a hotel of suites that are elegantly decorated with Moroccan modern touch. Casa Perleta is a traditional Chaouen guesthouse tucked in a small corner not far from the Bab Souk entrance of the Medina. While the rooms are small they are comfortable and decorated with local textiles, paintings and furniture. There is a small roof top terrace that makes for a great place for reading a book.
Boutique Hotels & Riads in Fes - A selection of boutique riads with charm and elegance located in the heart of Fes. All offer magnificent architecture, standout cuisin and service.
Riad Fes is a Relais & Chateaux Property and the premiere luxury boutique hotel with class and authenticity in Fes. This charming, now sprawling Riad has been restored with impeccability and combines traditional Spanish Moorish architecture with Modern touches. The decor has been designed with inspiration of a serene atmosphere reminiscent of Arabian Nights. A stay at Riad Fes will allow you to travel back in time and enjoy the splendor of the lifestyle of Fassi nobility. The garden offers moments of freshness under the shade of orange, lemon and bay trees.
Framed by lush olive groves and the ancient ruins of the medina walls, Dar Roumana invites you to experience the richness and comfort of a traditional Fassi guesthouse. Relax with a book and a glass of Moroccan mint tea on the spacious sun-drenched roof terrace with a spectacular view of the entire medina and Atlas Mountains. After dinner prepared by their Cordon Bleu chef, retire to the library for a fire-side game of chess or choose a movie from our video and DVD collection. Each of Dar Roumana’s suites contains the work of local artisans: original mosaic tile floors, intricate carved plaster, rich cedar ceilings and doors, and hand-crafted furnishings. Dar Roumana is a home away from home with its cozy atmosphere, sumptuous decor, and splendid zellij tile work.
Riad Myra was built at the beginning of the last century and has been restored to its original greatness. Owned by the Chabb family, this boutique, luxury riad is located in the vibrant heart of the Fes medina in the Batha Region. Riad Myra’s rooms have been designed to reflect historic elegance, with discreet modern features and amenities. A central courtyard with ornate archways, intricate stucco work, colorful mosaics and towering cedar wood doors is surrounded by the guest rooms, all sumptuously decorated with colorful drapes and brocades with a combination of Moroccan and English antique furniture. Each of their the suites contains the work of local artisans: original mosaic tile floors, intricate carved plaster, rich cedar ceilings and doors, and hand-crafted furnishings. Karawan Riad is a luxury, boutique hotel of seven, chic suites that are set within a glorious 17th century home. Harmony is key at this magnificent courtyard property where the combination of texture, motif and artifacts create unique hand curated interiors. All seven suites have king sized beds, exquisite bed linens and writing desks. Trickling fountains are surrounded by flora and fauna for cozy dinners that of local Fes cuisine offered up by Chef Outhmane's and Chef Mahmoud.
Boutique Hotels & Riads in Marrakech - A selection of Charming Riad, Hip Hideaways and Lavish, Luxury properties.
Riad Kniza is one of Marrakech’s most prized Riads in Marrakech, Riad Kniza offers a captivating experience for travelers. Owned by a family of Moroccans for over 2 centuries this restored Riad boasts traditional décor with elegant Moroccan fabrics, Moorish architecture, open courtyards, a library, drawing room, a dipping pool and magnificently arranged rooftop terrace. From a warm welcome of mint tea and Moroccan pastries to rose petals and fresh flowers poignantly placed, Riad Kniza makes a traveler feel at home. Well attended by celebrities such as Bill Gates and Garry Kasparov, this u pretentious luxury Riad is the place to stay.
La Maison Arabe is one of Marrakech’s first, original Riads. La Maison Arabe has endured the test of time. This traditional boutique riad is ideally situated in the Marrakech medina. It offers a combination of stylish and intimate luxury with hotel amenities. La Maison Arabe has old world architecture and a romantic interior making it one of Morocco’s most sought out places to stay. Each room is uniquely decorated with antiques and ancient artwork, Moroccan carpets and a combination of local and imported fabrics. There is an elegant Piano Bar on site that sets the tone for a late afternoon or early evening aperitif.
La Sultana Marrakech is an authentic Signature boutique hotel a real timeless palace and a proud member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Designed for lovers of hotels where every piece of architecture is unique, La Sultana is the crown jewel of Marrakech. The restaurant of La Sultana offers a traditional Moroccan cuisine to reflect the flavors of the season. Dinner is served either in the cosy atmosphere of the patio in the winter or on the rooftop overlooking the snow capped mountains of the Atlas in the summer. Riad Nashira & Spa brings a new dimension to hospitality in Marrakech, a concept that goes beyond other experiences. Riad Nashira & Spa inaugurates a new blend of style and values creating new sensations of a traditional riad with Modern, Morocco touch by Italian architects and designers.
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on March 28, 2015 at 9:15 AM||comments (0)|
Marrakech is a city of light and vibrant color. From it's bustling souks to new museums and art galleries, wide Moroccan restaurants, lavish designer hotels and opulent riad gardens there is something for everyone. There's no better place to take it all in then one of Marrakech's fabulous courtyard gardens. Riad courtyard gardens are intimate spaces filled with lush, leafy green flora and fauna often centered around a stone or marble fountain filled with rose petals. In the majority of Moroccan courtyard gardens roses and oranges are grown and in every home courtyard garden a mixture of exotic spices that are brought from Mecca. A Marrakech courtyard garden should be part of a Morocco travelers experience when visiting the city particular in spring and summer. Riad Courtyard gardens serve as the perfect escape to read a book, enjoy a typical Moroccan meal, a sunset cocktail or simply decompress and take in the sights and sounds. 5 fabulous riad courtyard gardens in Marrakech worth visiting are:
Palais Lamrani is an authentic nineteenth century palace riad with an extraordinary lush garden filled with orange trees, roses bushes, frequent bird visitors an a sense of interior calm. The owners, a remarkable French couple, Noemie and Eric offer a private riad experience for luxury travelers. The Palais has six suites, a swimming pool, a traditional Moroccan Hammam /Spa and terraces that over look the High Atlas Mountains.
Riad Enija is owned by a Swedish architect Bjorn Conerdings and Swiss designer Ursula Haldimann. This Maison d'Hotes is made of several riads seemed together with many exotic courtyards and sprawling terraces. Named after their daughter, Enija, it boasts tropical style plants and opulent gardens. Lavish fountains filled with flower petals can be found around every corner during an afternoon stroll. The design of the riad is both sophisticated and eclectic with Ursala having traveled the world collecting textiles, furniture and art all, which have made their way into every room on the property. Ideal for the laid back luxury traveler this riad with secret courtyard gardens guarantees the comfort of a home.
Dar Donab is located in the Dar El Bacha region of the Marrakech medina. This typical Moroccan riad has stunning traditional architecture and quite an intimate setting for a day at leisure. The courtyard at Dar Donab is arranged around a swimming pool and gurgling fountains. Dating from the eighteenth century, this riad was once part of the Dar El Glaoui's Palace. The courtyard garden remains authentic with its zellij tile work and Andalusian style patio paved with marble. A haven of peace this courtyard garden is perfect for an afternoon cocktail or late lunch just before sunset when the light is at its peak.
Palais Sebban located in the popular Moussine district of the Marrakech medina is a hidden jewel of Moroccan-Andalusian architecture. This charming boutique riad has a breathtaking courtyard with a stylized hanging garden dripping from it's rooftop terrace. Originally constructed around the residence of Caíd Sebban, this nineteenth century palace has three courtyards, hand painted rooftops, frescos carved in plaster and antiques of historic significance can be found in every nook and cranny. Lunch or Dinner in the courtyard of Sebban or even afternoon tea completes a long day after exploring the Marrakech souks.
Villa Des Oranges is a stylish Marrakech boutique hotel with a truly romantic courtyard garden perfect for all seasons. A Relais & Chateaux property it is one of the best medina retreat experiences Marrakech has to offer. A French couple, Pascal and Veronique Beherec discovered this riad on a trip to Morocco in 1998 and then began the creation of a luxury this hotel that combines sophistication with luminous textures, fabrics, Moroccan woodwork and further development of the garden. It took nine months to restore the traditional Moroccan house using local artisans in Marrakech. Elegance combined with the cozy essence of a home, salons with fireplaces, private terraces and views of the Atlas are just a few good reasons to stay at Villa Des Orangers. Just a 2 minute walk to the place Djemma El Fna, Villa des Orangers is a veritable oasis of calm. With three green patios and trickling fountains, harmony can be found here.
For more information on Marrakech Riads and Courtyard Gardens. For more information about the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on March 26, 2015 at 6:20 AM||comments (0)|
The Moroccan Kasbah was a place for the local Caid or Pacha to live in and a place of defense when a city was under attack not unlike the medieval European keep. Sometimes, they were built on hilltops so that they could be more easily defended such as the famous Ait Benhaddou near Ouarzazate. It is no accident that many great films like Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator were filmed here because it retains the character and atmosphere of centuries ago when it was an important post on the camel caravan route from Africa to Morocco. Ait Benhaddou Kasbah was a busy teeming Ksar (a fortified town) with fortified towers and reinforced walls. Inside the Ksar, there was a central mosque surrounded by family homes, communal areas and small palaces. In its earlier history, Ait Benhaddou is believed to have housed thousands of inhabitants. It was composed of six Kasbahs and nearly fifty houses, made with red pisé and connected through a complex maze of narrow streets. Visitors can step straight into the medieval past and it is a great place to take the family to explore.
Morocco’s Southern region and in particular the region of Skoura is referred to the “Valley of one-thousand Kasbahs,” referring to the way-stations of ancient caravan routes traveled by tradesmen and adventurers. They brought with them customs and crafts, beliefs and skills, and they sought shelter and social interaction within secure Kasbah walls. Skoura has superb Kasbahs on its doorstep, including the ruins of the Kasbah Amerhidil, and it is an excellent base from which to explore the Dades Valley, the Todra Gorge and the Valley of the Roses. The Glaoui Kasbahs at Telouet and Taourit are also historic sites to visit on a Morocco Tour. Telouet, the seat of Thami El Glaoui Pacha of Marrakech under the French is an imposing ruin with a central living area which is relatively well preserved with the Glaoui’s living quarters bedecked in flowered zellij tiles looking out on to the village of Telouet. Kasbahs were also fortified mansions built by the rich and powerful caids and local feudal leaders. Kasbah Taourit is another imposing Glaoui Kasbah in Ouarzazate the capital of the South. The Krupp cannon which founded the fortunes of the Glaoui’s which enabled them to dominate rival tribes still lies outside Kasbah Taourit.
Throughout the centuries Morocco’s strong and enduring Kasbahs have kept silent vigil guarding communities from potential attack which was all too common in the feudal era which lasted right up to the 1950’s chronicled in Gavin Maxwell’s epic account “Lords of the Atlas.” Some of Morocco’s finest boutique riads and hotels are now converted Kasbahs. Built or rebuilt in traditional style, they have been renovated to accommodate tourists in luxury and style. A few of the best examples are found in Ouarzazate and Skoura region. In the Ait Benhaddou Region, Riad Ksar Ighnda is a restored Kasbah with modern architecture that offers a luxury experience and stay inclusive of a private pool, roof top dining, a Hammam and is away from the city center. In Skoura there are boutique riad guests houses, Les Jardins Des Skoura and Kasbah Ait Ben Damiette, converted Kasbahs that are French owned and offer up luxurious stays surrounded by gardens.
Both are located in the heart of the Skoura palmeraie. More Kasbah’s are being renovated and turned into boutique hotels and guesthouses to offer Moroccan travelers an exciting authentic experience. The most well known Kasbah Hotel in Skoura is Dar Ahlam, “Dream House” which is an an opulent boutique hotel in the heart of the Skoura palmeraie. Built around a labyrinthine converted Kasbah from the early 20th century, this luxurious property consists of nine suites and three private villas in the attractive gardens with a large swimming pool. Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot is another well-known luxury Kasbah Hotel located in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains.
This property offers fantastic service, a beautiful spa, restaurant, and a stunning mountain backdrop. Kasbah Bab Ourika in the Ourika Valley offers outstanding views of the High Atlas and is a great value place to stay with friendly staff and fantastic food made from produce from their own garden. At Imlil at the foot of Jebel Toubkal with breathtaking terrace views of the peaks and valleys, Kasbah Du Toubkal is the perfect base for exploring the Atlas Mountains and experiencing Berber culture. Today, as as Morocco traveler, the ancient Kasbahs of the Great South can be discovered through historic visits on a private tour and visitors also have the opportunity to stay in one.
For more information about Ancient Kasbahs of Morocco's Great South or a Kasbah Tour. For more information about the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on February 25, 2015 at 9:10 PM||comments (0)|
The Moroccan port city of Tangiers (also known as Tangier, or Tanger in French) sits on the Straits of Gibraltar, staring right across the Mediterranean Sea at Spain. Sitting just east of Africa's most north-westerly point, it has been a key point of exchange between the African and European continents for centuries.
Between 1923 and 1956 (when Morocco gained independence), Tangiers was at the center of a 144 sq mile international zone under the joint administration of France, Spain, and Britain (and later Portugal, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States). This international status and the post-war wanderlust of many European and American travelers resulted in a large and diverse expat population of writers, artists, smugglers, bon vivants and fortune-seekers living alongside Tangier's indigenous populations of Moroccan Arabs, Berbers and Riffians from the neighboring Rif mountain range. Foreign residents included Beat Era American authors, Paul Bowles, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. However, even before the establishment of the French Protectorate in Morocco and the Tangiers International Zone, the seafront frontier town atmosphere of Tangiers attracted its fair share of celebrity residents. One such visitor was French fauvist painter, Henri Matisse.
Matisse's 1912 work, Window at Tangier, is a painting of the view from his window in room 35 at the Hotel Villa de France. Originally built in 1880 by Luciano Bruseaud, the Villa de France was the residence of the head of French diplomacy before becoming the main building of the hotel. It featured impressive gardens stretching to Tangiers' Anglican church of Saint Andrew. The hotel became the favorite of an élite clique of international visitors during the period of the International Zone: French and British aristocrats, German diplomats, military officers and even clergymen are said to have stayed there for a drink or a few nights. The Villa de France only lost its pre-eminent position when Scottish businessman Lord Bute opened a larger and more sumptuous rival in 1930: the Hôtel El Minzah. The decline of Villa de France began after the end of World War II and the dissolution of the International Zone, and by the late 20th century it had long become outmoded and was in desperate need of renovation. The hotel was closed in 1992 and remained shut for more than 20 years. Protests against the threat of demolition in favor of modern property development are said to have reached the ears of King Mohammed VI. Villa de France was finally classified as a historic monument in 2003, befitting its grand architecture and function as the urban memory of Tangier. The renovation and expansion began 3 years later to the tune of around 100 million Moroccan dirhams (US$ 10.5 million).
The Grand Hotel Villa de France was officially re-opened in September 2014, after a soft launch over the preceding summer. Along with its erstwhile rival, El Minzah, it is now owned by Iraqi-born British businessman, Nadhmi Auchi. The aim of the renovation has been to maintain the character of the original architecture, while acknowledging Tangier's pinnacle of the 1950s and 60s, in a modern 5* hotel setting. Room 35 has been reserved as an homage to Matisse. The renovation is sympathetic to the original charm of the 19th century design, while incorporating traditional Moroccan craftsmanship and modern amenities (such as independent apartments and a new pool).
Today, as in yesteryear, the new Grand Hotel Villa de France enjoys unfettered and impressive views of both the Tangiers medina, the Mediterranean and its own extensive gardens. Sitting on a hill above the city, it is the perfect escape from the bustle below - either for a drink on the beautiful terraces, or for a longer stay.
Written by Lynn Sheppard
Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients.
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on August 10, 2013 at 7:45 AM||comments (0)|
Morocco has a diverse and vibrant culture close to Europe just 13 km from the coast of Spain yet with growing ties with the Middle East where the oil rich Gulf countries are investing substantially in Morocco’s tourism industry. Morocco also has close contacts with Africa. It is at the crossroads of many cultures absorbing the commercial dynamism of the West in building its growing tourism industry with enhanced infrastructure such as auto routes , trains, airports and ports whilst maintaining its ancient traditions and Arab and Berber culture. It still has an aura of ancient oriental mystery and originality whilst also being highly accessible and attractive to tourists. Tourism has more than doubled since 2002, to nearly 10 million visitors in 2011.
Under the Vision 2020 Plan King Mohammed VI wants to increase the annual visitor numbers to 18 million by 2020. It is the only country in North Africa to have successfully maintained its tourism industry in the face of the global recession. Morocco is a stable and peaceful country . It is the only country in North Africa to have enacted a new constitution in response to the Arab Spring and King Mohammed VI remains central to the lives of his subjects. It is important for tourists to respect Morocco’s traditions and culture. Morocco is a Muslim country committed to allowing other religions to practice their religion freely , particularly Christianity and Judaism which are recognized as religions of the book, to practice their religion freely.
Morocco is a conservative society but its people are very welcoming, friendly and easy going. During Ramadan whilst you can always have a meal in restaurants in the tourist cities it is best not to eat and drink in public during day light hours as muslims cannot eat or drink or smoke until they break the fast when the sun goes down. Moroccan men treat their café is their local club where they meet socialize and discuss business while drinking coffee or mint tea and watching the world pass by. If you buy pastries or cakes in a bakery it is ok to eat them in the café at no extra charge.
Moroccan cuisine is renowned for its delicacy and abundance with traditional tangines, couscous, mechoui (lamb) salads and desserts and an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. In the main cities there are also French and european cuisines available, a multiple choice is available. Most Mosques are closed to non believers however you can visit the impressive Hassan II mosque in Casablanca, the Berber mosque at Tin Mel outside Marrakech on the way to Ouarzazate, the former Islamic college the Medersa Ben Youssef in the Marrakech Medina and the old Medersas in Fés Bali, the Bou Inania and the El Attarine .
These sites will give you some idea of the glories of Moroccan Islamic architecture. Most Moroccans in the cities speak French as well as Arabic or the Moroccan dialect Darija. The French Protectorate was established in Morocco in 1912 and lasted until 1956. French remains the language of business whereas Darija is spoken in the street and at home, Darija itself is a mixture of languages including French words and Moroccans happily switch from one language to another in conversation. Spanish is spoken in the north and south as there was also a Spanish protectorate. However there has been a marked increase in the number of young people speaking english as it is taught in schools. Those working in tourism will probably speak good english and the business centers of Casablanca and Tangiers also has more english speakers.
On a first trip to Morocco it is important not to try to do too much in a limited amount of time. The ancient Medinas of Fes el Bali of Marrakech can be combined by other nearby locations in the case of Fes, the imperial city of Meknes and the ancient roman ruins of Volubilis, or in the case of Marrakech, the nearby fishing port and beach resort of Essaouira, no hassle and cheaper than Marrakech it is just two hours drive away, Agadir can be combined with the Sous Draa valley with its Kasbahs or the desert town of Ouarzazate. Further South you can visit the desert at Merzouga and the Erg Chebbi sand dunes. Tangier can be combined with trips to Tetouan and Chefchaouen Morocco’s blue and white town and the Rif mountains. There is an infinite choice which is a tribute to Morocco’s development of its tourism industry and you should try to plan your trip with your travel agent.
On your first visit it is best to avoid driving hire cars yourself as Moroccan traffic is very different from driving in Europe or America. A car or 4X4 with a good Moroccan driver is a better bet or you can travel on Morocco’s ONCF railways in first class airconditioned carriages. Many tourists like to stay in small guest houses called Riads to be close to the ancient Medina which have been restored by local berber craftsmen . Roof top views offer an insight in to the life of the Medina. In Marrakech, Vanessa Branson’s Riad El Fenn has prime views of the Koutoubia Mosque minaret lit up at night with a laser beam nearby , whilst five-star La Sultana overlooks the Atlas Mountains.
In Fes three riads are Dar Roumana, a traditional restored Anadlusian palace style Riad with library and Chef that specializes in Moroccan cuisine, Dar Roumana is well-located in the central medina, Riad Maison Bleue and Riad Fes are other luxury guesthouses comprising e beautifully restored riads. They both have a pool and Spa. Others prefer the many fine hotels in the modern part of town many of them from well known international hotel with restaurants, swimming pool and gym and there are a number in most cities. The choice is yours.
The Accor group has Sofitel properties located in Casablanca, Fes and Marrakech, there is a Four Seasons in Marrakech and a new, modern boutique hotel in Fes called Palais Faraj. When visiting the souks in Marrakech and Fes for the first time you can pay an official tourism guide from the government ONMT tourist office who can help fend of hustlers and take you to shops of interest, although he may take a commission from the shop which will be added to the price you pay. You may want to memorise the Arabic phrase “La Shukran” , No thank you. After the first visit when you know your way around in the souk and the maze of the medinas of Fes and Marrakech you can enjoy the adventure but be sure to keep to the side of the narrow streets and derbs, as the narrow alley ways are called, to avoid motor scooters and donkey carts who may cry “andak!” which means watch out.
For More Information about a Morocco Tour or traveling to Morocco for the first time. Morocco’s Imperial Cities, Seaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villages, A Taste of Morocco, Magical Kasbahs, Ruins & Waterfalls, Absolute Morocco, The Best of Marrakech, Fes, and Ouarzazate
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on June 19, 2013 at 9:10 AM||comments (0)|
Lying at the foot of the Atlas Mountains and blessed by the gulf stream from the Canaries which makes for an equitable climate in winter and a cool temperature in summer, Taroudant, with its fertile gardens and palm trees, is an ideal place for a restful holiday. Tarodaunt is just one hour from seaside Agadir and 8 hours from the Sahara Desert region.
It has historic crenellated 16th century ramparts similar to Marrakech but without the crowds and frenetic souks and the ville nouvelle. Taroudant is a town mainly located within its ancient walls and its souks are in the two main squares, Assarag and Talmoklate. There is also a weekly souk outside the city walls, near the future university but there is none of the commercialism common in the larger cities. It has the tranquil air of a small market town and its souks offer attractive handicrafts which are much less costly than in Marrakech or Fes, including intricate berber jewelry , terracotta, wrought iron, pottery, brass and copper, leather, carpets and rugs. It is possible and safe to explore the town and its 6 km of walls and ramparts by bicycle.
Taroudant has long been the resort for royalty and the jet set seeking a rest at the Gazelle D’Or, a former hunting lodge turned exclusive hotel. with delightful gardens and bungalows. There are however, also many other accommodation alternatives including a number of riads and guesthouses which offer a range of attractive accommodation options.
Riad Hida is near the village of Souss. It has 14 rooms and has an outdoor pool with a furnished terrace and a Moroccan style garden. All the air-conditioned rooms at the Riad Hida are decorated in a traditional Moroccan style. They are equipped with a private terrace and a bathroom. Some rooms have a seating area. Riad Hida’s restaurant serves traditional Moroccan cuisine. Guests can enjoy a drink in the bar or on the sun terrace. There is a palm tree garden with fountains for guests to relax in. Riad Hida provides free parking. It is 30 km from the south of the Anti Atlas and 45 km from Taroudant. This majestic Riad is a former residence of the Pasha Glaoui.
Dar al Hossoun is a traditionally built riad, with rammed earth, close to the ramparts and has extensive botanical gardens containing more than 900 different species of plants collected from all over the world by landscape architects, Eric Ossart and Arnaud Mauriere. The property is divided into two, the Al Hossoun and Al Borj. Two swimming pools, a Spa with beauty treatments and massage and two hammams provide plenty of scope for rejuvenation and carefree relaxation. There are a number of suites and rooms to choose from. The management can arrange local trips and visits to the souks as well as riding, golf, hiking and tennis.
Dar Zahia is a traditionally built four-bedroom guesthouse. Its clay walls reflect the medina’s historic architectural style, and its patio is brimming with lush jasmine plants. It is a haven of peace in the midst of the medina and close to the souks. Dar Zahia can arrange hiking or horseback riding excursions, or you can visit the nearby Turkish baths.
Aziyade 358 Jnan si Moussa ,Derb Akka . Sip traditional Moroccan mint tea on the pink clay balconies here while taking in the Atlas mountain ranges. This small hotel of 3 rooms is only a few miles from the city’s markets, where guests can shop for local foods and crafts.
Riad Tafilag is a traditional eight room riad located between the ramparts and the Medina. It has a swimming pool and panoramic terraces with tents. Riad Tafilag offers rooms with a private terrace and free Wi-Fi.The rooms are decorated with sculptures and Moroccan textiles. They are all air conditioned and some rooms and suites have access to the patio. Breakfast is served daily and can be taken on one of the four terraces. The riad also has a restaurant with a fireplace which serves traditional Moroccan cuisine.
You can enjoy a traditional steam bath heated by a wood fire and a range of massages. Guests also have access to a large living room with satellite TV. Riad Tafilag is also close to the Assarag and Talmoklate squares and the souks. Bicycles are available free of charge.
Riad Ain Khadra , Douar Ain El M'Diour. This riad has eight rooms.Located a 10-minute drive from the centre of Taroudant. Riad Ain Khadra offers a terrace with sun beds, an outdoor swimming pool and a spa, where you can enjoy the hammam, massages and body treatments. It provides guest rooms and suites, each traditionally decorated with warm colors. All of the rooms are heated and air-conditioned, and feature a private bathroom with a shower. Some of the rooms also have a seating area. A typical Moroccan breakfast is included at Riad Ain Khadra and dinners with local specialities are also available. Meals are served in the dining room, on the patio, on the terrace or by the pool.
The riad has free Wi-Fi in public areas. Transfers and excursions can be organized, with an extra cost. Free private parking is also possible on site and the palm grove of Tioute is 35 km away.
Palais Oumensour , Borj Oumensour, Toudjent. Palais Oumensour is a 10-minute walk from the old Medina and the souks, and has a swimming pool in its garden, a terrace and a traditionally-decorated lounge with a TV corner and a library. The rooms and the suite at Palais Oumensour are air-conditioned and feature a view of the patio or the terrace. The private bathroom is fitted with a shower and includes a hairdryer. There are two superior suites and 4 junior rooms.
A traditional breakfast is served every morning. Moroccan cuisine is available in the dining area which features a view of the Atlas Mountains. Other facilities are beauty and massage treatments, a steam bath and a hot tub, available at a surcharge. There is free Wi-Fi access in the public areas.
Riad Jnane Ines, Douar Ain Lamdiour. It has eleven rooms and a large garden with an outdoor pool and lemon trees, this beautiful riad features a wellness centre featuring a jacuzzi, a hammam and massages are available on request. Guests can also relax on deckchairs by the pool.
The riad offers typical Moroccan-style suites, some of them with a terrace. All of the spacious suites at Jnane Ines are air conditioned and equipped with a minibar and a private bathroom with bathtub. One of them has a panoramic view of Taroudant and a jacuzzi. Riad Jnane Ines’s restaurant provides daily breakfast and traditional cuisine from southern Morocco. Meals can be enjoyed on the terrace overlooking the pool.
The wellness centre has a jacuzzi, a hammam and massages are available on request. The reception is open 24 hours and Jnane Ines provides free Wi-FI access in all public areas, including the common living room with couches. Free private parking is possible on site.
Dar Fatima,Tasoukt Tighzifn, is a traditional Morrocan guesthouse and has 7 rooms. It is located in the heart of Taroudant’s Medina district. It features a hammam and a large patio with a fountain. The guest rooms at Dar Fatima all have private bathrooms and are decorated in a traditional style. Each is equipped with free Wi-Fi access. The guesthouse has a large lounge area, which has a TV with satellite channels and a fireplace. Guests can enjoy Morrocan specialities for lunch and dinner, along with a daily breakfast. Dar Fatima is just a few steps from the souks. The guesthouse provides a shuttle service to Agadir city centre on request, which is an hour away. An airport shuttle service is also available.
Riad Taroudant has 16 Berber-style air conditioned rooms, with en-suite bathrooms. It is located in the midst of the Derb J’did quarter and offers guests a swimming pool for summer as well as open fireplaces for colder winter evenings, a sun-drenched roof terrace and a traditional Moroccan restaurant serving tagines, salads, couscous and kebabs.
Riad Maia,12 Tassoukt Ighezifen. Riad Maïa has 3 guest rooms with an en-suite bathroom and 2 patios. Relax on the Riad's terraces before indulging in a traditional massage. Moroccan cuisine courses can be booked directly at the Riad. Riad Maïa's management can help organise excursions and 4 wheel drive trips to Marrakech or Ouarzazate.
Hotel Dar Zitoune,Boutarialt El Barrania, Taroudant, is an environmentally conscious riad with 20 air conditioned Berber bungalows and suites with safety deposit box and bathroom. Beauty and body care services are available and guests can also relax in the outdoor swimming pool or heated hot tub. The restaurant offers a fusion of Moroccan and European cuisine which can also be served on the terrace or in the lounge bar. Dar Zitoune has a peaceful garden setting, just a few miles away from Taroudant.
|Posted by Alecia Cohen on March 25, 2013 at 3:55 PM||comments (1)|
[/caption] There are a number of Eco lodges (Atlas Mountain Hotels) in Morocco which offer travelers the opportunity to escape the urban environment and enjoy the beauty of its countryside and the rural communities. The Kasbah Toubkal at Imilil 60 km from Marrakech is one of the most famous. A converted Kasbah, it sits on a hill and is a ten minute walk from the village. Kasbah Toubkal surrounded by the mountains and a blissful Mountain Hotel worth more then a one night stay. It serves as a lodge for those planning to climb Mount Toubkal but it is also a brilliant getaway. Sitting on the terrace looking out at the surrounding countryside while at Kasbah Toubkal is a stunning experience. There is also a mountain lodge, gitabpe, run by Kasbah Toubkal for those who want to stay further up in the mountains. The Kasbah or gitape is run by locals from the village and a proportion of the money earned goes to the village to support education and health services. The Kasbah is very much part of the local life and provides much needed employment. The Kasbah is run on sustainable lines and isa centre for many many activities such as biking as well as mountainerring and trekking. It recently sponsored a rubbish collection day clearing the approaches of Mount Toubkal from accumulated rubbish that had built up over the years
The Atlas Kasbah near Agadir in the foothills of the Anti-Atlas mountains is an Eco lodge that also offers a taste of Berber life and is surrounded by varied and beautiful Moroccan landscapes .It is high on a hill with a panoramic view of the countryside. The 11-bedroom lodge uses solar power for 80% of its energy, has solar-heated showers, a chlorine-free pool and a herb and vegetable garden. As well as views of the Atlas mountains there is the opportunity to meet the local Berber communities in the surrounding countryside. Members of the local community work at the lodge and cook traditional tagines and other dishes. The village of Tanefeest and the Atlas Kasbah lie in the Souss-Massa-Drâa region in the Unesco argan tree biosphere reserve and it is possible to visit an Argan oil factory and watch the production process. Further afield there are a number of day trips to the ancient town of Taroudant and the beaches along the coast from Agadir.
Also in the South of Morocco is Ksar Shama in the village of Ouirgane with 20 rooms in 15 acres of land. Ouirgane is close to the Atlas mountains and is a haven of peace and tranquility with many routes in the beautiful scenary which allows trekkers to wander amongst the local communities and the Toubkal National Park. The Eco Lodge dar Itrane at Douar Imelghas two hours drive from Azilal and four hours from Marrakech in the heart of the of the beautiful Ait Bougmez valley in the High Atlas mountains.Dar Itrane is a 17-room-cultural ecolodge dedicated to the promotion and protection of the Berber Culture in the High Atlas of Morocco at an altitude of 1850m/6000 ft, close to the MGoun Mountains Range.The lodge is traditionally built and blends with the local houses of the Bougmez valleyand has a library dedicated to Berber culture. It is an environment friendly building with waste management and water consumption management. At an altitude of 1,800m (6,000 feet), Dar Itrane and the Bougmez Valley enjoy a fine climate, allowing journeys almost all year round. There is a traditional Hammam and comfortable living rooms, patios, and roof terraces offering a excellent views over the valley. Going further south there are a number of Eco lodges in the desert and Oases. These include Oasis Bab el Oued in Agdz in the Draa Valley Palm groves witht 5 rooms at the heart of a palmgrove with a an organic orchard and a garden of aromatic and medicinal plants . Activites such as hiking, mule treks and mountain biking are on offer. Close by is Kasbah Timidarte . This is a pilot project for rural tourism located 15km from Agdz in the Draa Valley. The Kasbah has been restored with respect to local tradition to be transformed into a guesthouse. The Ksar El Khorbat, Tinejad is near the Todra Gorges It is guest house with a museum, and a workshop for craft women. it is a model of ecotourism in Morocco and is a fully restored adobe kasbah.