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.



Sunday, December 7, 2008

Skiing in Morocco - Marrakech to Oukaimeden

After discovering the skiing last year at Oukaimeden in the high Atlas only 1.5 hours from Marrakech and being an keen skier myself, I have been eagerly awaiting the snow in the mountains this year. I discovered the wonderful skiing only at the end of the season, so have had to spend all year, rallying up a girl group and waiting on the snow. It is now here! My friend had invited me to go up with her family and children but the day before she called to say there was a blizzard up there so would call me at 8am the following morning to make a decision. The next day I awoke, the sky was blue and crystal clear and the recently dumped on mountains standing proudly and invitingly on the horizon, what a day I thought. She called - we're off, see you up there. We dashed around the house jumping into salopettes and ugg boots and little one into her leopard skin hat and matching boots (she had these on in the summer with her swim suit, a very funny sight.) The drive up there is gorgeous so I thought I would show you the different views on route. In the time you get up there, you go from about 19 degrees to -2.
Berber houses en route, imagine how cold these people must get. They walk around in the really cold temperatures in just a jumper, sitting outside chatting. They are very hardy.
Beautiful Christmas trees on the way, I was wishing I could have taken one home with me.
Getting higher! Anyone visiting in the winter months should do this trip, it is such a great drive and even if you don't ski, you can have a nice lunch up there and glass of wine in the sun looking at the spectacular view. At the riad we can organise this day trip for you. You can stay overnight too if you fancy a bit of skiing. The skiing is not advanced unless you go off piste with a guide, the runs are red and blue runs, but if you are dreadfully unfit like me it is still enjoyable and the most amazing thing for me which blows my head is that you are in Morocco! sunbathing - skiing - 1.5 hours.
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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!