Magical Morocco!

a riad at the royal mansour in morocco
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Picture yourself in a far away land, a land of diversity, tolerance, and a multi-faceted landscape. Morocco is that incredibly interesting place with so much to offer!

I traveled through the Moroccan Coast with our preferred supplier partner there, starting in Casablanca for two nights at The Four Seasons, a gorgeous beach resort.  A note to anyone considering staying there: the best beds in the business! We enjoyed an amazing mint tea service, the rooms are exquisite, the bathrooms dreamy, the king rooms have a beautiful balcony, the double queens have more interior space than the kings, but no balcony. One piece of information that may be important to some, this is a dry hotel (no alcohol).  Excellent staff and with TravelStore’ s preferred relationship, breakfast is included as well as $100 resort credit to spend as you like!

We had a city tour with our guide Chakeeb, and an incredible dinner at Rick's Café (modeled after the classic movie Casablanca) where the atmosphere is as if you just stepped into the movie set. It was classic and beautiful. A real treat to anyone who enjoys fine dining and classic films. 

We set out with Chakeeb in the morning to the Hassan II Mosque. It is the only mosque that non-Muslims are allowed in in Morocco. The mosque is one of the largest as well. The intricate detail of the tile, fabric, wood and gold leaf is impressive. Learning the customs and traditions were so very interesting as well. We all have so much in common.  Good to know- you must dress modestly and remove your shoes when entering.

The next day we drove to Rabat, about one hour from Casablanca. On our way we stopped for a lovely lunch on the beach. We toured the ancient necropolis of Chellah. The ruins there date back to the Roman through the Islamic periods. This is a special place for women, who were hoping to conceive, and near a very unusual pond. It’s a great place for bird watchers, with large storks nesting in the ruins.

We also rocked the Casbah de Oudiais looking over the Atlantic. Watch for the ladies wanting to give you a henna tattoo.

We visited the Royal Palace in Rabat, the tombs of King Mohammed VI, King Hassan II and his brother Prince Abdallah, all buried in a most impressive mausoleum, guarded by soldiers in full traditional formal attire. The mausoleum is an impressive design of beautiful tiles and stone.  

In Rabat, we stayed at a beautiful modern boutique hotel, Villa Diyafa. The 1-bedroom suites were just beautiful, highly modern, very techy and yet another bed I wanted to take home with me!

After a beautiful breakfast at our hotel, we met up with Chakeeb, and headed out to Oualidia, about 3 ½ hours’ drive from Rabat. This is a remote beach town, and oysters are farmed here. Heading away from civilization, (and down a dirt road), we arrived at this oasis, La Sultana, Oualidia. If you want to really, really get away, this is the place. The spa here is incredible, we each enjoyed a fantastic massage, I chose the candle massage, where they heated the massage oil in a candle, and had a sumptuous spa treatment.

The rooms here were so fun, each very different. They were playful in naming each room, even the Penthouse is named Pirate (complete with cannons on the deck), another was a Treehouse, with a tree growing up through the middle of it, with a round bed and a beautiful deck. Mine was a beautiful room with a spectacular chandelier.

We met later that night for cocktails at the end of the pier at the hotel. Torches lit our way as we went from the pier to the beach, where we were led to a Berber tent for a beautiful seafood feast, fit for a queen!

After breakfast we headed to Essaouira (two hours away),  stopping only for a quick camel ride!  We walked through the maze of the cool blue & white medina (a walled city and UNESCO Heritage site), we hiked up to the fortress overlooking the Atlantic, which was also the setting for Orson Welles’ Othello. We watched a few acrobats from a roof top restaurant overlooking the square.

We stayed at a lovely hotel inside the Medina, L’ Heure Bleue Palais, a Relais & Chateau property. This beautiful hotel is a nice riad (garden open in the middle), and really feels residential. Well-appointed and perfectly located. Dinner in their restaurant was over the moon wonderful! A Great choice in Essaouira!

On our way to Marrakech we stopped by an Argon oil cooperative run by local women. The oil is extracted from the pit of the fruit of the trees (goats eat the outside, we use the inside), the ladies grind it into a paste, and depending on what form it will take, whether for food or beauty. I had fun and pitched in and ground up some oil too, I love mixing with the local people! We tasted the argon oil mixed in with almond paste and honey, it was delicious! I even bought some miracle oil to make me took years younger, fingers crossed!  

The other stars of this region, and a real highlight, are the goats! You just drive down the road, and there they are -- a tree full of goats! They are literally in the trees eating the argon berries on the side of the road. You can’t stop snapping pictures of them, it is funny, but really cool at the same time. A local shepherd handed me a baby goat to hold while I was there, and I melted!

In Marrakech, we stayed in the most elite property there, The Royal Mansour. A personal project of King Mohammed VI of Morocco, it is a series of opulent private riads (private residences) on 8 acres in the middle of the city. The luxury resort creates the setting of a historical medina.

I had a 2-bedroom riad, and it was enormous! 1,800 square feet of pure fabulous! We enjoyed the service of our personal butler, Eunice. You arrive with a fountain in the foyer, in the middle of the riad. We had a huge living room on one side and a beautiful dining room across the way, and a living area that each riad has, decked out with beautiful pillows and couches. The second floor was comprised of the bedrooms and bathrooms. The master bathroom had a very special “shower room” - and the piece de resistance- the tub, in which you could surf,  it was so large! When you think of luxury, multiply what you are thinking by 100% and that is the Royal Mansour!

In Marrakech we went into the medina, I even got a marriage offer for 100 camels! The main square is where it all happens, with story tellers, snake charmers, acrobats, food stalls and those fun slippers! Have fun bartering with the locals, they are happy to do so.

We also went to Yves St Laurent gardens and museum. The museum has many of his original classic designs, what a lovely tribute. His villa is still there, and they have private evening parties in it. The Four Seasons Marrakech has a nice agreement with them for use of this special place. There is also a Berber Museum inside the gardens! I returned to this garden for an evening event, led down through the medina by Moroccan men in traditional garb, torches lit the way into the garden, with an incredible sunset, dancing and music -- it was truly magical.

This was also a business trip, as I went to attend the Matter & PURE Life Experiences event for luxury experiential travel experts. I mixed, met & mingled with the top companies specializing in this special travel type. During the conference I stayed at the Sofitel Imperial Palace Marrakech, a beautiful hotel with an amazing staff! We enjoyed a huge party of over 1,500 people, at the hotel. What a place!

My next trip to Morocco, I will venture to Fez, the High Atlas Mountains and of course the desert. But I will also return to Marrakech. Morocco is a very colorful and rich land, with much history to absorb, the people are charming and are as layered and textured as the beautiful design of the country. Morocco is a must!

Pam Jacobs