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.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ballooning Marrakech

We had some lovely friends visit us from Hong Kong who we had not seen for 7 years. They came to Marrakech to celebrate Tim's 40th Birthday at Zamzam.

We decided to take Tim Ballooning for his birthday in the morning. Now I am not a morning person and you have to meet at 5.50am but whenever I do get up at this time which is rare, it definately is the best part of the day. It is stunning as the sun comes up especially in Morocco with the palm trees and beautiful blue skies. I took a picinic of champagne and croissants. I am always happy to be in charge of the champagne.

As we arrived at the launch site, excitement escalated as we could see the balloon a beautiful site everyone really felt they were off on an adventure.

The group tucked in and ready for take off. The children took some stools to stand on so they could see out.

Bye! I was left happily on the ground with the champagne!

Ballooning can be booked through Splash Morocco or Ciel D'Afrique or us if you have booked to stay at Zamzam.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Marrakech Wedding cakes - Zamzam Riad

A little scared about making this grey and yellow wedding cake, even though I originally suggested it in a flurry of creativity. Now I understand the difference between an architect and an engineer (even though I am neither). It is one thing talking about fabulous ideas and another thing making them a reality. You would think I had learnt that renovating Zamzam our riad in Marrakech.

However I'm glad I did and was pleased with how it turned out. Thought I'd show you some shots although they are not great as I'm hopeless at night photography. Need to go on a course when I get a minute!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Women's yoga and reiki balancing Retreat - Zamzam Riad

Goddess Retreat - Zamzam Riad & Spa - Marrakech Medina

Marrakech. 2-6th February, 2011. 3 day retreat.

A team of professionals who excel in the fields of Reiki, Ashtanga Yoga, Nutritional Analysis and Chinese Medicine have gathered at this ancient magical city to support you in your journey towards Feminine knowledge and strength.

Within the luxurious and deeply relaxing surroundings of Zamzam Riad in the heart of the Marrakech medina we have created a dynamic retreat which includes talks and discussion on nutrition and energetically balanced live food and juices devised by our Nutritionalist.

Ashtanga yoga, a dynamic practice will be taught by Aisha Barzaghi, currently the Yoga specialist at Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot. This yoga will balance your female energies and hormonal endocrine system through pranas and breathwork.

Reiki Attunements and group practice with Rebecca Hutley, Reiki Master from the Usui & Tibetan lineage will support the emotional body and help bring all aspects of your being into harmony.

Group discussions with a Nutritional Consultant from the Foresight clinic in West Sussex, UK will allow you to explore your physical health through nutrition.

A talk and chance for discussion with a top Doctor in Chinese and Japanes Medicine especially female health.

Emma Joyston-Bechal, the owner of Zamzam Riad will support you in your visit to Marrakech with airport collection, knowledge of the area, luxurious pampering and full concierge for all your needs including a tour of the Ancient Medina.

Please have a look at our new blog - Morocco Retreats for full programme and prices or email Emma - - 00212 661215062 for a chat!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Traditional Wedding Cakes - Marrakech Zamzam Riad

I thought you would like to see this latest wedding cake all white.  I was very pleased with it and loved the white lillies on top.  The cake had a base of carrot cake and 2 tiers of Madeira Cake which was lovely and moist.

For further information email Emma -
I'm making one this week which is slate grey!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Godess Retreat - Zamzam Riad 2-6 February 2011

The Reiki Practical superb sessions at Zamzam.

On the Goddess Retreat we will do a full SPA day, hammam, reiki and massage.  Optional acupuncture and one to one with Nutritional Specialist.

The Moroccan Hammam, the quickest way to relax and rejuvenate.  Email Emma - or check out our  blog - Moroccan Retreats

Godess Retreat - Zamzam Riad 2-6 February 2011

We have refined our Retreats at Zamzam and are now launching our first Goddess Retreat on 2 February 2011.  It is a 3 day retreat packed with self learning and SPA.  We have additional members to the Morocco Retreats Team.  As well as Ashtanga Teacher to the stars, Aisha Barzaghi  and Reiki Master Rebecca Hutley we have two guest experts for ladies joining this retreat.  A Foresight Nutritionalist from London and a Doctor in Traditional Chinese Medicine who also studied Japanese Acupuncture a remarkably gentle method.

The 3 day retreat will have gourmet food nutritionally balanced to revitalise and rid body of excess fluid.  The food will also assist in the re-balance of the female endocrine system.

The Goddess Retreat will provide Goddess like surroundings at Zamzam with luxury accommodation within an ancient backdrop of the Medina where will will also provide expert guides for you to go with and explore.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Zamzam Rocks! - Marrakech Birthday Party

We had a stonking evening at Zamzam recently. A 40th Birthday Party Moroccan Style. We started with Mojitos and canapes on the patio, followed by a Moroccan lounge on the terrace under the stars with bbq, Moroccan buffet and dancing.
Even Marcus got into the groove, not sure what he's looking at though!
The audience could take no more they all got up to shake their bootie with the belly dancer and drummers. After the Ryanair early flight we encourage guests to have a hammam and massage to shake off that awful fatigue.
I hate taking shots with flash as you don't get the warm lighting of the evening on the terrace, so this shot is blurred but gives you more of a feeling for the night.
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Marrakech Wedding Cakes - Zamzam Riad

I have just survived an exhausting weekend of wedding cake making. Two quite different cakes and I must say the first was a real labour of love as each layer was different. Chocolate devils food cake, Madeira and Red Velvet. It has been unusually hot in Marrakech so I had real dramas with the fondant icing too which insisted on sticking to everything. I then had an hour trip on a horrendous dirt track to deliver this cake to the Marrakech Desert. It took 3 of us to deliver it as we bounced around in my 4 wheel drive with me shouting bump.
This more contemporary cake was a bit easier as it was all Madeira however the stiff Moroccan ribbon was no easy fight. All in all I think they turned out ok.
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Monday, August 23, 2010

Yoga and Reiki Retreat - Zamzam Riad Marrakech, Morocco

 We had a fabulous retreat as normal, Day 2 of the retreat we spent the day in the Toubkal National Park in the heart of the Atlas Mountains.

The Atlas Mountains in June were extraodinary, sunny but with a very cool mountain breeze. Superb for our hike. The green valley's and waterfalls were otherwordly.

Walking through the Berber villages in the Atlas Mountains and exploring local village life and their pretty mud houses.

Yoga in the courtyard with Aisha who is used to leading big groups at Richard Bransons Kasbah but was very good at taking us through the postures.
Our wonderful massage therapist who Manages the spa.  We had a full spa day with reiki treatment, hammam and gommage and massage  Superb after a day hiking!
A relaxing Moroccan Massage in Africa!

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Walking in the Atlas Mountains - Toubkal National Park, hiking

  A gorgeous day in Toubkal at the start of our 10k hike.
The best thing was the cold air from the mountains cooling you down as you got hot during the hike.
The group walking through the Berber Villages and around the huge walls which section off peoples villages and land.

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Yoga and Reiki Retreat - Zamzam Riad Marrakech, Morocco

  A bit of team building helping Ella across the raging stream.

Toubkal National Park is stunning in June, it is lush and cool with gorgeous waterfalls and just right for hiking.
The group crossing one of the many village bridges.
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Exploring Yoga - workshop in London

My dear friend Rachel is holding a yoga and creativity workshop in Surbiton (SW London) in October. The weekend is £80 but she's doing an earlybird discount booking of £70 if booked before 12 September. Contact her for further details on its sure to sell out quickly!
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Zamzam Boutiqe - Beni Ouarain and Handira Morocco

We have some really fantastic Beni Ouarain carpets at the Zamzam Boutique at the moment, we also have some very pretty handira and these Berber wedding blanket cushions. I have 4 of them at the moment all rectangular, email me for further details at

I just love this pretty and very unusual vintage Berber wedding blanket with tiny flecks of colour.
This large vintage Beni Ourain with a short pile is in fantastic condition, it is 4 meters long with lovely cream wool and a pretty orange and mauve kilim at each end. Click here to see my full stock in the Zamzam Boutique
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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!