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.



Friday, February 29, 2008

Flowers for Mothers Day - spring is in the air

The spring is definately here. We have had a week of rain and storms and now all the plants are that much better for it. The lawns are green, the birds are singing, there are little leaves on the fig trees and the bougainvillea is out. This is the time of year that everything grows really fast. There are orchards upon orchards of beautiful blossom, we rode through one this week and the smell was amazing.
This is the loveliest time of year in Morocco. The buzzing of bees and the scent of orange blossom is everywhere. It's the time of year that if you haven't been to the hammam you start to think about it now as you know very soon ie sunday i think its going to be 27, you will be getting out those winter feet and legs!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Beni Ouarain rugs - Morocco

These are the gorgeous Beni Ouarain rugs i have been promising you. The Beni Ouarain tribe are famous for their cream and brown rugs. They are made with 100% beautifully soft and supple wool. The highest quality being supple enough to wrap round you. These fabulous rugs are getting harder and harder to find, especially the old ones. They are actually collectors pieces and have a huge following. They look fabulous in contemporary loft spaces or ancient oast houses. Conran has also copied these, using brown background and cream lines.

The photos below are a selection of antique rugs for sale at Zamzam Boutique. I have prices, sizes and most shipping costs, just drop me an email if you are interested in owning one of these beauties.

My husband loves the subtle ones where you can just see a hint of the diamonds, where as i love the bolder ones seen here. The patterns on the back are wonderful and in the summer i turn them over which is also what the Moroccans do. It's a great way to clean them!

You will see superb examples of these Beni Ouarain rugs when Zamzam Riad opens in the summer.



You find once you own one, the beauty of them consumes you and you become slightly addicted to them as i am, each one with it's own magic and personality.

This is a new Beni Ouarain rug, you can tell as it doesn't have the sheen and length of pile that the old ones have. Nonetheless it is still stunning. This one has been sold but i can source similar. It is smaller too which is unusual measuring just 2 meters by 3.

These rugs are numbered and catalogued when they are bought. They all have a unique number. The new rug shown here actually has the date and name of the maker woven in. You can see it at the bottom.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Attention Equestrians - Fantasia saddles and harnessings

Look at these beautiful Fantasia saddles. The embroidery is fantastic and the craftsman ship wonderful. They are had made in Morocco and usually used in Fantasia displays on beautiful Berb horses.

These are a new addition to the Zamzam boutique, they are a beautiful piece in any house. They sit on a basic wooden frame which you would need to construct in your own country to keep postage costs down. The saddles themselves are very light without the wooden frame. If you are interested in acquiring one of these delicious sets please email me for prices and postage.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Clubbing in Marrakech


Theatro, probably the best club in Marrakech? There is a big club scene here in Marrakech, especially at the weekends. Going into the centre of town on a Friday night, I could not believe how busy it was. I thought I was back in Covent Garden after work.

Lots of wealthy young Casablancans come to Marrakech to go clubbing at the weekend.




















There are lots of clubs in the basements of hotels but Theatro and Pacha are amongst the best with international dj's working the mood. Pacha is good for the whole evening as you can have dinner at Crystal too.

Well it was fab, I loved it, it made me feel young again. I haven't done this since my daughter was born!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Funky tiles from Marrakech

I thought i'd share with you some of the tiles i've been looking at for the riad.

I absolutely love them, but then when you think about seeing a whole patio in them you wonder how long the love affair would last.

However i'm being bold and choosing some lovelies, so watch this space!

You can also buy the tiles in some beautiful plain tones, which mix well with a border.

My daughter adores these animal prints. They really are something else, I love them.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A tennis tournament in the Palmeraie - how terribly British

What better way than to spend the afternoon with friends while the men get serious about their tennis.

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, just perfect weather. We had a barbeque with wonderful food produced by everyone including the very English potato salad.

The gardens at these old villas in the Palmeraie have the most beauful gardens full of butterflies and singing birds, they really are special.

The resident camel was beautiful, but rather old and hostile.

A gorgeous profiterol cake was produced to round off the day as we all sang happy birthday to the birthday boy. Granny was first in line!

Friday, February 15, 2008

My guardian angel reincarnate

My guardian angel, I dont know what we would have done without him. In desperation about 3 months after arriving in Marrakech, i took it upon myself to go out on a land hunt. Marcus was totally fed up and rightly so after day upon day of looking at land, being told what he wanted to buy had actually sold a year ago etc etc. I've had enough he said one day! So in the car i got and headed off . I saw a key sign which means, moroccan men who know about land, so i jumped out the car with Fatima (my maid at the time, but actually sooo much more) and off Fatima went gabbling in arabic as i said to her: 2 hectares, small piste, trees etc etc. Up sauntered this beautiful man with a calm aura, he stood out a mile. What are you looking for and how can I help you he said in English! There in is the start of a beautiful story of a wonderful kind, spiritual, knowledgeable, conscience individual who i swear is infact my guardian angel!Now back to the riad, look what we have achieved. Look at the new floors going in! they will be laid with tadelakt next a lovely shiny natural plaster.
The wonderful Halid above at work, a member of the fabulous people tribe. Note also the freshly plastered walls. I am so pleased to see Halid and the new members of his tribe as we lost him for a while to another Riad paying more. Thank god he's back!

Halid's fabulous assistant, laying Bejmat.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Zamzam taking shape

Slowly, slowly the Zamzam Riad is forming a personality. What a difference the plastered walls make. A pretty blank canvas to make our mark on. A very zen phase, full of speculation. A friend on mine who was converting an old church into a house, got to this stage and never moved on. She said i just enjoy sitting and imagining what i could do and what colours i could use. She enjoys the journey more than arriving.

No fear though we will definately be arriving as soon as is possible. So watch this space. Below is a photo of the kitchen. The shelves are to be covered in beautiful smooth tadelakt.
Look at the fabulous walk in shower, part of the master suite bathroom. The shower is totally covered in Agadir Rouge marble. How clever Marcus is to be project managing all this.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Beautiful Zamzam plasterwork

I'm so chuffed with the plasterwork that has gone into the bedroom ceilings. It's fantastic! The reason i'm so excited is that it could have been really dreadful. There is a real thin line with this plasterwork. It's either elegant and modern moroccan, depending what you put it with or its chintz at it's worst.
The photo above shows my favourite shape. it's actually a little Indian in style, but i adore it. The plasterwork is the first thing that has really bought The Riad alive. I hope you all love it too.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Riad El Mansour

Riad El Mansour, a charming riad run by two charming English friends, Stephen and Robert. The riad has been open just over a year and as you can see is a magical place in the old medina. In total they have six bedrooms at the riad. Pictures taken at the entrance to the riad. Robert and Stephen are very good at looking after you and giving advice on trips further afield.
Photo showing entrance to the downstairs patio, with jacuzzi and roaring fire in the intimate salon where you can sip gin and tonics, read a book, or have dinner.

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!