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.



Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Zamzam Nomads - Riad Marrakech

I recently got a lovely email from a lovely guest who just stayed with us, saying what a nice time she had had at Zamzam and sending me a few photos of her trip. One of the photos was this, our very nice new Assistant Manager - Said. I think it is a fantastic picture but hilariously funny once you realise that his nomad head wrap is infact one of the hotel's hammam towels! The things we have to do at Zamzam to keep the guests happy!!

When I showed Said the photo he roared with laughter. What were you doing I said. He said they asked me to dress for the photo. Once a Berber ..........................
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Monday, May 25, 2009

L'Amandier Project - Ourgaine Villas

A while ago, December actually I got a phone call from a couple of ladies, Jen and her sister Mikaela who wanted to talk to me about Villa Interiors.

They came to the riad and we all had a long chat and got on very well, I showed them around the riad and they seemed to like it. It turned out that their wonderful project was 16 villas in the Atlas Mountains.

The small villa development in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, just an hour’s drive from Marrakech, L’Amandier will be a luxury development of privately owned villas, a large swimming pool, a tennis court, plunge pools, and gardens peppered with Bougainvillea, almond and citrus trees.

It sits on a plateau surrounded by the magnificent snow-capped Atlas Mountains, a short distance from Sir Richard Branson’s luxury retreat, Kasbah Tamadot, and other established spas, hotels and restaurants.

This is somewhere one can’t help but relax, unwind and enjoy the clean air, unspoilt panoramic views, tranquillity and space.
With 300 days a year sunshine and an aggressive national policy to boost tourism from 2 million to 10 million a year by 2010, Morocco has become one of the key hotspots for property investment.

For full details of this stunning development see:

www.lamandier-maroc.com

They also are writing a wonderful blog which keeps you up to the development of the villas and the sites as they are being built. The blog is well written and a good read - www.lamandier-maroc.com/blog/


We had a wonderful day visiting the site, the plot is absolutely breathtaking. Not far from Marrakech either but excellent as a retreat or to do some wonderful walking in the mountains.
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On the beach Moroccan style

We just managed to get away for a 2 night break to Essaouira. It was absolutley fab, the weather was perfect, with a slight breeze and no wind. The beaches are clean and good sun beds provided. I've posted a couple of photos of Moroccan ladies on the beach, it's quite a contrast when you are there with your bikini.
Lots of surf duds and kite surfing. We headed to Sidi Kaulki for the day about 23 k south of Essaouira, it is a true surf beach and totally unspoilt at the moment. There are a few quaint little cafes, which will bbq you fresh fish for lunch.

Lo
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Monday, May 18, 2009

Beni Ouarain and Azilal - Berber Carpets Morocco

I've been so busy with the riad, it has been a while since I went on a carpet hunt. Today a lady came to the riad to pick up her carpet and asked if I would go into the souks with her and show her more carpets. The perfect excuse to have a look around too.
I found this stunning Azila with beautiful kilim ends.
I also found this Azilal which I am very proud of. Both carpets have wonderful soft wool. Click on the Zamzam Boutiques and have a look at the other carpets I got today. Some really stunning Beni Ouarain as well.
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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Palm regeneration - Eco Tourism Marrakech

45 minutes outside Marrakech is the Agafay Desert. In this desert is a wonderful eco-hotel called La Pause. It consists of many tents, and villas, a natural water pool, camels, horses, golf and many other things for familys to do. We usually recommend this place as a day out for visitors staying at Zamzam. We often go on a Sunday to spend the day and have a wonderful lunch there in the tent. The food is very good.

We were invited by a dear friend for her birthday and one of the activities was for everyone to plant a date palm. It was a fantastic idea and the children especially loved it.


My little one planting her little one. Oh the joy of nature.
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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Zamzam Garden - Marrakech

I walked through the garden cutting roses, coriander, pulling beetroot and had a moment. I thought, I've been waiting my whole life to provide like minded people with energetic, tasty natural food and flowers that smell and look like flowers. We have forgotten what real things look like. I felt absolute satisfaction in that moment and have even started to get the Moroccan team who work with us excited. Wow that's from the garden they say. The girls in the kitchen at Zamzam seem really proud using the garden grown vegetables and they taste amazing. Garden to plate, seasonal, no refrigeration units, no storage, no chemicals no long hall flight. We have planted the tomato plants with the roses (organic gardening) its meant to help pest control and I noticed loads of pretty lady birds today munching through the green fly. Maybe my Eco system is really starting to work. I have an awful lot of ants though and they are starting to eat my artichokes and roses. Any one any ideas??
The bougainvillea is out of this world this year, we use to add some romance to the bedrooms and bathrooms.
This is Lilly Rose, she turned up with her big fella when the juicy lettuces sprouted. I spend my whole time moving her out of the veg patch and my daughter keeps putting her back to have dinner!! She's so pretty I can't get rid of her. You would think she would move on the way JoJo keeps munching her shell.
Gorgeous artichokes, we are going to pickle them raw in olive oil, garlic and lemon again this year. They were delicious in our green salads.

ps the first two courgettes were picked today, yipeeeeeeeeeee.

Book into Zamzam for lunch, dinner or some excellent cooking courses.
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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Education for All - Morocco - Zamzam sponsored NGO

After we had visited the boarding house in Asni we went to lunch at the nearby Kasbah Toubkal. Mike the owner who is heavily involved in the charity and the fundraising donated the lunch so that all money from the sale of the tickets went to the charity. His travel company in the UK also organise yearly sponsored bike rides in these gorgeous mountains, this happens every March. http://www.rediscover.co.uk/morocco.html

The girls from the boarding house were invited to the lunch as was Linda Anderson, she had just donated 4 months of her time in the boarding house in the winter with the girls. Part of the lunch at Toubkal was a thank you to her for her hard work and say good bye. If you go to the Education for All webpage you can see Linda's blog and the story of the boarding house it is great reading http://www.efamorocco.org/

A photo taken by my 5 year old after a fantastic lunch. We are planning to do a fundraising dinner for Education For All at Zamzam soon. So I will post details nearer the time if you would like to come.
The view from the lunch table.
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Education for All - Morocco - Zamzam sponsored NGO

We received the following invitation a few weeks ago to support one of the charities that we support at Zamzam. We were very excited to see the good work that was being done and to visit the boarding house for poor girls that had been built and was being run, it is called Dar Asni:

Dar Asni Open Day
Join us to celebrate the girls’ successes,
and our first anniversary!
“World change starts with educated children.”
Sunday 26th April, 2009
11.00hrs - Girls’ Boarding House, Asni
13.00hrs – Kasbah du Toubkal, Imlil
Come for coffee, meet the girls and visit Dar Asni
Afterwards an invitation to a charity Mechouie lunch at
Kasbah du Toubkal
All proceeds go to “Education for All Morocco”.


www.justgiving.com/opendayspring09
(Or contact Mike McHugo, e-mail: mike@discover.ltd.uk )

Any one interested in getting involved or donating directly to this great cause should go to the link below,

http://www.efamorocco.org/
The girls are chosen through a selection process of Education For All. The selection criteria is mainly poverty and drive to achieve.

Once the girls are awarded a place. They are welcomed to the boarding house where they stay as one big family with the carers and their school fees are paid to the local school. The house was clean and amazingly had a common room with 3 computers connected to the internet for them to use with their homework etc.
The girls are each given a bunk bed in a dorm and a wardbrobe. They are very proud to have their own wardrobe and as you can see are immaculately tidy. A lesson for our own kids to learn. Respect your space.

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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!