As-Salaam-Alaikum

Hi, i'm writing this blog page to share information with all you wanderlust souls out there. Living in Morocco comes with lots of bizarre and unexpected events, which i thought you may enjoy reading about and sharing in the laughter.

My family and I moved to Marrakech 11 years ago from London. The beginning of a huge adventure for us. Choosing which country was right for us to live in had been an extremely long and tiring process. Having made a choice to move to Marrakesh, was in itself a big box ticked. We had two criteria lists, one for our business (opening and running a guesthouse) and one for personal.

Phase two of our journey then began. Setting up home in Morocco, also a non English speaking country with a very different culture to ours. Marrakech is a real melting pot of; languages, tribes, rich, poor, city slickers, country peasants. It sometimes reminds me of that place Luke Skywalker went to, to buy that space ship, with all those different intergalactic aliens. (Any one know what it was called?) After months of beauroctratic paperwork, rendez vous with people who don't turn up and renting from an unpleasant woman for a large amount of money, we bought ourselves a villa. This was not in the plan as we didn't want to tie up our capital in a home. I now realise it is one of the best things we could have done. When you've had a really difficult day here to be able to close the door and relax in your own place really balances you.

Zamzam Riad & Spa was eventually created out of love and we hope you will come and stay and be pampered in our luxury boutique riad.



Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Rose Marble Bathroom - creating an eco-conscious riad

The first finishes have started at last. It seemed as if we were never going to get past the first stage of changing shapes, electrics, plumbing all of which seem to go on and on. There's so much stopping and starting because of religious festivals.

The first marble has gone in! It has gone into the down stairs suite. We are only buying Moroccan Marble not imported. We are trying to support the local industries as much as possible. We have two bathrooms with baths and this is one of them. It has two little marble seats in it so that one can relax in the essence of Jasmin, sipping a glass of wine after a hard days shopping in the souk. I'm rather pleased with the outcome as you never know if you are going to be happy with the work done. Marcus is now watching everything like a hawk so that it's done correctly, i think this is the only way to try and get your finishes to an acceptable standard, which believe me is incredibly hard. Luckily Marcus is a perfectionist so i know that by aiming for the stars we will have good finishes by most standards. My biggest concern really is the hot water. It seems to be that no matter what riads do ie huge tank volumes and pumps all over the place. The hot water is very slow? Even in the creme de la creme of riads I've heard people say "we had to go off for a gin and tonic to wait for the hot water to come through". What makes me really wince about this is that we are trying very hard to be as ethical and eco-conscious as possible and running a tap for 20 minutes in a desert country is a big no no.



We have had the hammam insulated with sustainable cork, we are installing solar panels (unbelievably fairly radical for morocco) and we are trying where ever possible to be a conscious low impact riad. Any helpful information or hints on this will be gratefully received. We are already a competitive destination re: carbon foot print, as with only a three hour flight to Morocco we have the upper hand, being equally as interesting and diverse as other countries ten to thirteen hours away.
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Creating the Guest House

We had decided to buy land and build a country guesthouse as per our business plan, about 10 double rooms and suites. The dream was to create a holistic retreat and build our house on the same plot. We were going to have an organic vegetable garden and provide a Moroccan Spa.

Land in Marrakech at that time, went mad. Prices going up daily, lots of people fishing but not really wanting to sell. There is also a problem here of title. ie not much land is titled and to buy land without a title is very difficult, unless you have a lot of time on your hands and like a gamble. We looked at more land than you can shake a stick at, drank more mint tea than you can imagine and got totally no where. It can take weeks to even get a price. You may be being shown a piece of land that isn't for sale or has already been sold. After a year of this we said 'that is it!, we are buying a riad!'

I had a total nervous breakdown and couldn't talk to anyone for three days. He then said this doesn't have to be the end....... It wasn't I have now built an Ecological Camp Adounia in the Sahara Desert!