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.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Zamzam Riad Boutique Hotel Marrakech - First Press

How exciting we have just had our first write up in a top British media. We had a group of travel writers come to dinner at Zamzam Riad and they loved it so much one of them decided to do a small piece on us, which of course is fantastic.

We have also been invited to the Guild of Travel Writers cocktail party in February in London, so all great news and may it continue. I have also been asked if I would be a case study for WOW (well being of women), the charity we support for women in the UK and around the world. I hate having my photo taken so after Marcus taking about 40 of me the other night, I have not yet got a photo over to them. It terrorfies me that I might see myself in some journal!
Equally exciting the article mentioned my blog too. I'm just starting to get the marketing cogs rolling so any ideas or contacts would be gratefully received and don't forget my wonderful collection of Beni Ouarain carpets that are for sale at the Zamzam Boutique! I'm determined this will be an exciting and busy year.
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Mandarin Harvest - Citrus season Marrakech Morocco

Two of these baskets from one little tree.

We have had a bumper crop of Mandarins, oranges and lemons. I adore this season of citrus fruits in Marrakech it is so exciting and special as it coincides with Christmas and brightens up a winter garden.

I had some lovely red peppers too which sadly have now finished. However with the help of my dad who i have to say has done all the seed planting and Hassan who has tilled the earth and made wonderful seed beds, the new Zamzam veggie garden is planted. We are now waiting patiently for the Moroccan spring to arrive where we will have more excitement spotting the little seedlings.

I had a number of tiny mandarins which we have preserved in a secret sirop. They are wonderful with deserts and even better in a chicken tagine. Make sure you order this when you visit the riad.

I will keep you up to date with the vegetable garden and post photos as and when the excitement starts!

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Friday, January 23, 2009

The Moroccan Coast

We were all packed up to go to the coast on our family trip after being so busy at Christmas, when we got a call from the UK to say that Marcus father was very ill and that he must come home at once. We couldn't go too far in case we were needed on the telephone so we decided to go to Essaouira on a coast and buying trip. The buying I will show you later. We stayed at the wonderful Villa De L'O which is our partner riad in Essaouira. Celine is a fantastic hostess and our room had a raised bath overlooking the bay! It decided to rain for two days but my daughter and I were quite happy in the Opium suite, reading the paper and watching DVDs.
I hope to post more often sorry for the delay we have just been rather hectic. The wonderful roof put on the riad at Christmas has blown off, so we are sorting that out today. I'm off skiing tomorrow with everyone to the stunning ski resort of Oukaimenden.
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Monday, January 12, 2009

Going to the Desert - Morocco

Our guests have left and we have a little window of time before the new ones arrive, so we are all off to the desert! It has been very cold today with grey skies so I hope things clear up.

My good friend left this morning and phoned her husband at lunch time to say the road across the top of the Atlas Mountains to Quarzazate was closed due to snow. He called me tonight 7 hours later saying when was the last time you spoke to her?! hope she is ok.

We are desperate to stay in tents, but it will just be too cold. I crossed the Sahara 10 years ago in February in sleeping bags and it was freezing. I didn't take my woolly hat off for two weeks. Will update you on our trip as and when. We are off to find wonderful Zamzam experiences for people!

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Stunning vintage Azilal at the Zamzam Boutique

A gentleman wanted to buy an Azilal from Zamzam this week and when I arrived at the Riad to pick it up Marcus had sold it. Hating to disappoint I got out and about made some calls and these beauties are some of what I found. Luckily the gentleman has happily chosen one. If you are interested in these beautiful Berber creations click on the Zamzam Boutique link to view the current stock. Payment is by paypal.
I love the rich brown in this one.
These carpets are finer and more velvety than the Beni Ouarain which tend to be woolly and chunky.
By the way I forgot to tell you all that not only did I have flu over Christmas, but when my mother kindly offered to cook the Christmas dinner it was discovered that our helpful housekeeper had chopped up my special rib of beef joint and made a tagine!! Ba Humbug. When I finally got over this incident a few days later we did eat the tagine and it was exceptional. The bizarre thing is that Fatiya never usually cooks for us??
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Friday, January 2, 2009

Zamzam gets a bache - Moroccan Riad Roof

It seems like ages since I have done a post, I'm so sorry but Christmas and New Year at Zamzam has been busy busy. Just before Christmas we had a very cold patch for Marrakech, with a thick frost in the mornings. I think you can see how cold and clear it is in these photos. As we had a full Riad for Christmas we decided we had to get a roof on the riad, which involved making a little color for the palm tree. These temporary roofs that most guesthouses have in the winter are brilliant at keeping in the warmth, they totally transform the Riad in the winter into a cosy house. I had great intentions of Happy Christmas to you all but I picked up my parents from the airport on 23 December and then spent the rest of Christmas in bed with the flu!
Anyhow HAPPY NEW YEAR - I hope you all have a great 2009.
My wonderful Christmas decorations are somewhat trapped but it was worth it.
Attaching the roof.
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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!