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, April 17, 2009

Monte Laster's Marrakech - Beni Ouarain, Zamzam Boutique

I got a phone call on my mobile one morning dashing through the souk. "Yes" I said, thinking it would be some random person wanting to sell me mint! "Hi my name is Monte Laster I would like to buy some Beni Ouarain and found your blog, im trying to find out if it is worth me flying over to do some shopping with you. I need 7 Beni Ouarain." "Absolutely I said, I can take you to find some great carpets. How long will i need." "Gosh at least 4 days and you may find some if you are lucky."

And so began the wonderful journey into the land of Berber carpets with Monte Laster, an American living in Paris. He is, I now realise one of the most sought after interior designers for anyone rich and famous wanting a journey into interiors. Regularly in the likes of World of Interiors, Vogue Living etc this man knows what he is after.

The trip started in hell and ended in heaven. He missed his flight, got food poisoning in France before he left and after nursing him back to health - "lets go" I said not much time. "I'm still ill " he said. Not one to be put off a shopping expedition to buy 7 carpets - "shall I get you a corossa" I said. "What's that?" "a kinda large wheel barrow, at least you wouldn't have to walk!"

Well what a lucky man, i don't know if the global recession and lack of carpet dealers from abroad in the souk is a reason, but we found staggeringly beautiful Beni Ouarain carpets. I found myself saying "you'r gonna have to make a choice you know". What a dilema! An interior design heaven?




What a purchase, this man definately has god on his side and what a joy. I loved meeting him and chatting and exchanging stories. After two days of doing carpets, I said, need an assistant. He looked at me in the eyes, I think i've got one. It was a mean feat getting them into the couriers after he left for New York. Just wait until you see the photos of the Manhatten appartment.

For more interiors go to http://www.montelaster.com/ and his photographers site http://www.joannamaclennan.com/

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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!