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, October 23, 2009

AiM International Biennale - Arts in Marrakech

AiM International Biennale 3rd Edition: Opening Thursday 19th - Monday 23rd November 2009. Arts in Marrakech. This festival was set up by Vanessa Branson and is organised through her team with Riad El Fenn in Marrakech.

This year Zamzam Riad has been added to the accomodation list and will be hosting two of the festival artists. People come from all over the world to visit this exciting festival in Marrakech. Below I have listed some information on the festival and a preliminary line up of who will be involved in the festival. These two yearly festivals are growing momentum and are great for the arts in Marrakech and as a promotion for Arts in Morocco and Moroccan artisits in the world.

This year's edition promises to be full of innovation, inspiration and intrigue. The program is more ambitious than 2007 with 5 days of discussions, readings, screenings and performances. AiM opens on the evening of November 19th at the Museum of Marrakech with the exhibition Articulating The Work and The Place curated by Abdellah Karroum, including newly commissioned works by Francis Alÿs, Loredana Longo, Seamus Farrell, Franck Bragigand, Faouzi Bensaidi & Yto Barrada. This exhibition will close on January 19th 2010. During the biennale opening celebrations, the acclaimed artist and filmmaker, Julian Schnabel, will discuss his life and work with Alan Yentob. The AiM biennale opening celebrations end on the evening of Monday 23rd November with a screening of Man On Wire and a discussion with the director James Marsh. There will also be an array of other talented writers, artists, performers and filmmakers showing and discussing the ideas behind their work. Click here for more information.

Third Edition, 2009

For the 3rd Edition of the AiM International Biennale the principal exhibition will be curated by Abdellah Karroum (L’appartement 22, Rabat) at the Museum of Marrakech. The literary programme will be organized by Simon Prosser (Publishing Director, Hamish Hamilton & Penguin), Abdellah Taia (Author of Salvation Army, An Arab Melancholy & My Morocco) & Alexandra Pringle (Editor in Chief of Bloomsbury Publishing); and the cinema programme will be put together in partnership with ESAV, Ecole Superieure des Arts Visuels (the only School of Cinema & Visual Arts in North Africa) under the direction of Vincent Melilli, Alan Yentob (BBC Creative Director) and Stuart Comer (Curator of Film at the Tate Modern).

Over five days, the AiM Biennale will premiere works from Francis Alÿs, Yto Barrada and Loredana Longo. Attendees will also include acclaimed artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel, Oscar winning film director John Boorman, Booker prize nominee Ahdaf Soueif, Turner-nominee Isaac Julien, Al Jazeera English presenter Rageh Omaar, BBC TV arts executive Alan Yentob and award-winning Moroccan film director Faouzi Bensaidi, among others.

Full programme coming soon.
A Short Selection of Events Planned for 2009:
EXHIBITION AT THE MUSEUM OF MARRAKECH, curated by Abdellah Karroum, from the 19th November 2009 to 19 January 2010, A PROPOSAL FOR ARTICULATING WORKS & PLACES:

SYMPOSIUM AT Ecole Superieure des Arts Visuels (School of film & visual art), “Documentary film – a view of reality or how filmmakers impose their realities?”

DISCUSSION with Director James Marsh followed by a SCREENING of the Oscar-winning film 'Man On Wire'

PROJECTION AT THE ROYAL THEATRE, Isaac Julien will show his film 'Western Union: Small Boats' in the unfinished opera house.

LITERARY DISCUSSIONS featuring Ahdaf Soueif, Andrew O'Hagan, Abdellah Taia, Sanaa El Aji & Barbara Trapido.

STORIES OF ORDER & DISORDER created & directed by Julien Fisera & Laurent Berger

TEA PARTY at Riad Magi, with music, poetry & a photographic exhibition organized by Maggie Perry

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tree Sculptures - Marrakech

What a whirlwind week. We have been busy at Zamzam, cooking classes and spa-ing not to mention sampling the local tipple. The hammam has been on full pelt and people have been in and out of the pool inbetween.
I wanted to post some photos of these fantastic tree sculptures that have appeared in the New Town of Marrakech. These wonderful old Eucalyptus have been turned into works of art and I think they are cool as.........

Just like a street of totems, think I need to commission one for the garden.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Joanna MacLennan at Zamzam Riad

These are the first edits of Joanna's photoshoot at Zamzam. To see more of the Zamzam shoot visit her website at The carpet in this first shot is available online at Zamzam Boutique together with a larger stock of Beni Ouarain and Azilal, Berber carpets. Click on the link to check them out.
In the next two weeks she will be uploading the final edits of the cooking course photos and Yahya's lights from Yahya Creation.

Our Master Suite - The Palm Suite.
Posted by Picasa

Zamzam Riad - Boutique

Well its been a busy week at Zamzam we opened to a full house, but half our staff dissapeared to another riad which wasnt great timing. They were poached by a big riad in Mouassine, gutting when you have spent so long training them. However we now have some fantastic new members of the team already riad trained too with top riad experience so maybe it was meant to be. Zamzam is now one and she has definately grown up this year.

Although the week was busy we had a great time with fabulous guests. We did lots of cooking courses and had a magician staying who is a member of the magic circle so we convinced him to give us a magic display which was great but left the staff a little stunned!

The photojournalist from Provence has just started posting final edits of the photo shoot she did in the riad a couple of weeks ago. I've posted some photos from the initial photos on her site for you to see. I think the photos for the Boutique below are fantastic, i'm so pleased with them. You can also see above my fantastic new collection of Juju hats from South Africa - how exciting are they??

Posted by Picasa

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!