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.



Monday, December 9, 2013

New Beni Ouarain made to measure traditional Moroccan carpets

I have a few designers, architects and people with large spaces wanting a made to measure new Beni Ouarain.  These carpets are simply stunning and you can the exact size you want.  They take about 6 weeks to make and your design will be carefully drawn to scale by the wonderful Marcus our resident Engineer.  Below I've photographed some samples of patterns.  Before the colour match was always difficult so natural cream backgrounds were the main design made with natural wools.  These always have the most natural soul of the wool and weaver but now more colours are coming into the souk with a deep purple i saw recently.  Perfect for a reiki tent i thought - check our our new retreat programmes for 2014 at www.moroccoretreats.com





Beni Ouarain, Berber Carpets - Zamzam Boutique Marrakech

Its time to get blogging, its been a while.  I have been so busy with Morocco Retreats.  2014 brings 8 retreats to the programme each one set in a special place in Morocco.  As well as being retreats they take you on a magical journey to the most amazing places.

Secondly an exciting new website is being done for the Zamzam Boutique and we will be sharing even more goodies with you for sale.  I have been sourcing wonderful Moroccan textiles and vintage Berber Carpets in preparation and wanted to share with you some of the pieces that will be in the shop.

The most exciting piece I have found is this Beni Ouarain blanket with wonderful hand embroidery over 3 meters of it.  In 8 years of living here i have never seen one, its really beautiful.



I also found some nice little Azilals this is just one of them.  These are made in the high Atlas and are more light weight than the Beni Ouarain carpets.




This Ancient Beni is hugely exciting for me not only is it very old and almost like velvet but I love the unusual design in dark chocolate and the pretty kilim ends - its about 3 x 2m


A small but very lush Beni Ouarain with super soft wool.


The Boucherouite rag rugs are suddenly so popular and we have a few very pretty ones coming online as well as some stunning Handira or Berber wedding blankets.


For any information email me Emma at zamzamriad@gmail.com

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Marrakech Boutique Hotel with Spa - huge discounts

Enjoy a relaxing hammam followed by massage with argan oil.


Our wonderful bathrooms with stunning lights for max atmosphere.

 The Rose Bathroom - with a special rose marble bath and rain shower.  Enjoy the Orange Blossom body wash - simply divine.
A favourite spot to listen to the birds, drink mint tea and enjoy your book.


Zamzam is full of antiques and character pieces to be enjoyed.
Our stunning Palm Suite for honeymoons and special occasions.


Come and lay in the sun and enjoy blue skies and excellent service - email Emma - zamzamriad@gmail.com
or telephone 00212 661215062

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Adventure yoga and energy holiday - Morocco


Its that time again when we are starting the get excited about our Sahara Retreat next March 2014.  Combined with energy work and relaxation at Zamzam Riad this is a wonderful Moroccan Spa Retreat.  The Zamzam team of yoga teacher, reiki master, chef and Spa pack up and in luxury land cruisers make our way over the spectacular Atlas Mountains in convoy to the magical town of Ait Ben Haddou.

At Ait Ben Haddou we do a yoga track, starting with some stretching yoga before heading off on a trek around the wonderful Kasbahs of Ait Ben Haddou.

The second day we drive to the ancient city of Mhamid - last town before the Sahara and we start an exciting drive through sand dunes.

We meet our wonderful team of Nomad Berber who await us with camel caravan, ready to camel trek to our Luxury Camp.

Arriving at the stunning camp in total serenity we enjoy a mint tea before being shown our tents with luxury beds, linen, carpets, leather arm chairs and bathrooms with toilets.  Absolutely luxury away from it all.

The days on the yoga holiday at the Luxury Camp Sahara are filled with yoga, reiki, sand boarding, trekking, massage and pedicure, reflexology with Daisy and peaceful time to relax and enjoy the scenery.  

Evening are spent dining together under the stars before drumming and dancing around the camp fire.  The night sky is spellbinding and followed by deep sleep in your luxury tents.

Trip of a lifetime - don't miss it
Email Emma for information at zamzamriad@gmail.com or see our website www.moroccoretreats.com

Sunday, September 8, 2013

TEDex Marrakech 2013

Very excited about the next TEDex Marrakech, but absolutely gutted that I cannot go!!! I'm catering for 150 people wedding dinner on the Saturday which is the main day of TEDex Marrakech.  The wonderful new British Ambassador Clive Alderton will be there as well as Josh Shoemake probably talking about his recently launched book on Tangier.  Mamoud Chouki my favourite Moroccan musician will be playing and there is also a speaker form the High Atlas Foundation.  Lastly I wanted to meet my neighbour Andrea Kolb owner of Anayela our neighbour riad who kindly shares her wonderful guests with us.  Oh well, I will have to book Marcus a ticket instead!  Be there and be round, book your ticket now!

If you need to book a room or lunch we are next door at Zamzamriad@gmail.com - www.riadzamzam.com

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxMarrakesh, where x = independently organized TED event. At our TEDxMarrakesh event, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.




What to expect:
  • Innovative thinking
  • Ideas worth spreading
  • Exclusive networking
  • Open-minded discussions
  • In one of the most historic places in the world: The Medina of Marrakesh
  • Two international hosts Andrea Kolb & Vanessa Branson
  • 100 carefully selected guests 
  • 10 mind blowing, inspiring speakers

Vanessa Branson • Host
Riad el-Fenn
contact@riadelfenn.com
00212524441210

Andrea Kolb • Host
andrea@andreakolb.de
491749208641

Alia Radman • Event Director
Alia@animusmarrakech.com
002126033344182

Monday, September 2, 2013

Our Future - Made in Africa Foundation and the African Development Bank Gala at the Taj, Marrakech


During The African Development Bank Conference in Marrakech this fantastic Gala Dinner was hosted by the Taj Palace.  It was an amazing evening with music from John Legend, Youssou N'Dour as well as a spectacular fashion show celebrating creative talent from three of Africa's top designers.  At the event the Made in Africa Foundation presented a special award to Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank.  Ozwald Boeteng was interviewed that evening by BBC World News and he also launched his film 'Our Future, Made in Africa.  You can view the film on U-tube or The Made in Africa Website.


The extraordinary amount of work that went into this show was overwhelming and the performances outstanding.  It was fantastic that Marrakech was chosen to host this important week of inter country relationship building, knowledge sharing and debate.

Being born in Uganda and growing up in Nigeria, my life has been effected by African politics and I have been involved in many discussions on how this great continent can inter trade and harness its wealth.  After all I was made in Africa!  It was fantastic to be able to be involved in this inspirational week and hear new views and opinions from different generations.  
Watch this space as Africa goes from strength to strength and better road, rail and airlinks are developed.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Love Locks on the Pont des Arts in Paris






We came across these wonderful lock bridges in Paris this summer.  My daughter was desperate to do one so off we went and bought one and then decorated it with our nail varnish.  They really are amazing to look at all with their tiny messages on them.


For those of you who haven’t heard of them, here's the story. A couple writes their names on a padlock and locks it onto one of the bridges. They then throw the key into the Seine River as a symbol of their undying love.
The locks on the Pont des Arts near the Louvre were cut off, reportedly by the government. But romance beats politics in Paris and the locks can now be seen on two Paris bridges: Pont des Arts and Pont de l'Archevêché.




However, there is a difference on which bridge you pledge your love.
Some say the only way to break the seal of love brought on by this love lock act is to find the key and unlock the padlock. Of course, that is nearly impossible, since the keys lie at the bottom of the river. This reality induces many brokenhearted individuals to return with bolt cutters to try to chop off the padlocks. So, on second thought, maybe it wasn’t the government after all.



Sunday, August 25, 2013

African Development Bank Conference and The Made in Africa Foundation - May 2013 Marrakech






Zamzam were lucky to host the BBC World News earlier this year including Zainab Badawi.  The whole week was fantastically interesting.  Zainab hosted a number of interviews with key African Movers and Shakers.  Sera of London was in charge of Zainab's Rendezvous set design.  She used interiors from Zamzam which you can see in these shots.



The Zamzam Set - BBC World News - Marrakech
Later during this high energy week.  The Bankers Awards were held with dinner and concert at the Taj Hotel in Marrakech.  It was a stunning evening hosted by Ozwald Boateng from The Made in Africa Foundation.  Ozwald hosted an amazing fashion show at this event with a selection of his Saville Row Designs.

Below you can read a press release on the amazing Event and by joining Made in Africa on Facebook you can get updates from the Foudations work.

Our Future, Made In Africa
Film Premier, Fashion Show and Concert
29 May 2013
Marrakech, Morocco


Internationally-renowned designer Ozwald Boateng OBE curated a stunning fashion show featuring four designers from Africa or its diaspora communities, wowing guests at his Gala event Celebrating Africa’s Progress, in collaboration with the IC Publications Africa Bankers Awards, in Marrakech, Morocco.

The thrilling designs of Amine Bendriouich (Tunisian), Pierre Antoine Vettorello (French Ivoirian), Samantha Cole (British-Nigerian), and Mimi Plange (Ghanaian-born Californian) were brought together for the show, featuring 30 models, including Sessilee Lopez and Sonja Wanda, by Mr Boateng as his Made in Africa Foundation celebrated the enormous positivity coursing through the African continent and its diaspora in terms of creativity and commerce.

The Gala event also featured electrifying musical performances by:

John Legend, r+b superstar;
Senegalese Minister of Culture, Youssou N’Dour, one of the most celebrated African singers in history and the top ranked musician in the Forbes “40 Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa” list;

Chart-topping Akon, who as well as being the first artist to hold both the number one and two spots simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100 charts twice, also produces for others such as Lady Gaga and Leona Lewis; and

Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def), conscious New York rapper, acclaimed actor and long time supporter of the Made in Africa Foundation.

That’s four artists with 10 Grammy awards and over 22 Grammy nominations between them.

Made In Africa premiered the new film by Ozwald Boateng, entitled “Our Future, Made In Africa”. The Film was simultaneously broadcast live in Marrakech and on the internet to a world wide audience on Made in Africa’s newly launched YouTube Channel.

Earlier in the day, the Made In Africa’s principle of bringing together the continent’s skillsets to co-operate towards progress bore significant fruit with the signing of the Marrakech Undertaking by the Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation – a recognition of the foundations’ mutual obligations to assist in the development of the continent, focusing on transformational infrastructure projects.

The event was attended by 400 leaders of the world’s banking and investment community, gathering in Marrakech for the African Development Bank’s annual summit, concentrating on creating progress and investment across Africa.

"Africa has been the inspiration of all great artists such as Picasso and designers like Yves Saint Laurent. As Africa rises and we see the African century our creativity in all the arts will be clear."
Ozwald Boateng, co-founder and Trustee of the Made in Africa Foundation

"For Africa to reach and exceed the growth rates needed to feed and house all of our people and become the powerhouse of the globe that it could be, needs a meeting of the minds of its creative genius and its finance gurus - this extraordinary event is the first of many!"
Chris Cleverly, CEO of the Made In Africa Foundation
http://www.madeinafricafoundation.co.uk/
 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Beach Spa Holiday - Morocco

Last couple of places left on our rejuvenating Beach Retreat.  Opt in or out of daily classes, sunbathe around the private pool or lounge/walk on the beach.  Maybe you might like a go at surfing or a sunset walk on camels.  Its all included in the price!
Chill out and read a book, enjoy your massages and rich mineral mud hammam.  Wash all your emotional and city grime away and return ready for an excellent summer.

Fantastic yoga with Daisy every day and the magic of Reiki with the Master Rebecca, turn this holiday into a full mot and service.  Its important to do this occasionally to keep your body and life in check.

Meditate together at sunset before a shower and evening under the starts with a beach fire and wonderful drummers from the Sahara.

We have guides on hand to take you on a wonderful beach and cove walk exploring this clean energising coast.


Morning meditation in the cool clean sea air with the rhythm of the waves to move you deeper.


The holiday start in Morocco on the 15 of June with a group supper and welcoming at Zamzam the ancient fortunetellers house in Marrakech Medina.
For full programme and listed of goodies included in this 6 night retreat read our website www.moroccoretreats.com for more information and prices including advice on flights and packing email Emma - zamzamriad@gmail.com

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Oualidia Bay - Moroccan Beach with fresh oysters and seafood

My birthday weekend at Oualidia Bay was as usual out of this world.  The Moroccan Coast never ceases to amaze me with its miles of clean beaches, sun, fresh air and outstanding sea food.  We over ordered as usual, oysters, spider crab, salads, sole straight from the ocean all excellent.

 The children love this beach with its coves and natural rock pools, there is always something to build or explore.

 You can get a boat as we did across the lagoon to a huge sand bank on the other side.

 Crossing over on one of the many taxi boats only costs about 50dhs.  Dinner or lunch at L'Initiale is my favourite place, the prices are very reasonable and the French owners very friendly and always pleased to see us.

http://www.blanee.com/etablissements/hotel-restaurant-linitiale-oualidia

Later this year in November 2013 we have a couple of places left on our 'Pampering Retreat' for people who want to relax for some winter sun and get away from it all.  Look at our website www.moroccoretreats.com for full programme and further information.

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!