Making it to Morocco
Every year it becomes rarer for me to personally host international events, while juggling the natural demands of leading multiple businesses and raising two young children.
But I made a vow this year – to get back out there. I want to work alongside my team and our partners on the ground across the globe. I’m determined never to lose my favourite part of the job – seeing first-hand that our clients have the best experience possible.
And so, I booked a ticket to Marrakech. I accompanied one of Corporate Peaks most long-standing clients – people we value dearly, who’ve been with us from the very beginning. I look forward to this high-flyer trip each year, with people who are now dear friends.
The idea? To mix classic experiences with originality. Here’s a run down
An easy airport transfer, quick change and dinner at the historic Narwama palace. A unique, hidden venue that embodies the best parts of Moroccan culture: history , hospitality and high-quality food.
Catch ups and intros, then a round of Shashiya hat dancing – which very quickly became the focal point of the trip, as we attempted to match local standards. Our efforts were tragic, to say the least (I’m laughing as I recall just how tragic).
A slice of slow travel as we explored the city via horse and carriage, stopping at the iconic Jardin Majorelle and Yves Saint Laurent Mansion. A tranquil (and astonishingly quiet) haven of sun-dappled courtyards and gardens, hidden behind high walls like so many quaint spots in this enigmatic city. What stuck with me was discovering YSL’s affiliation with the area – he and Pierre Bergé created the Fondation Jardin Majorelle in 2001, currently supporting a number of wonderful cultural, medical and educational organisations.
Dar Rhizlane afforded us a fabulous table for lunch: a magical venue boasting three restaurants and accommodation options. Gorgeous weather, traditional Moroccan cuisine and lovely company – highly recommended after a morning wandering the gardens.
A free afternoon was spent exploring the intoxicating central market Djemaa el-Fna – admittedly a shock to the system, after such a relaxing morning. Speaking as a lover of hectic local markets, I have to admit, my haggling game plan disintegrated thanks to sensory overload. You’ll see snake charmers, henna artists, animals and sellers in all directions – but set your sights on the colourful nooks and crannies beyond the main square, and the experience becomes more manageable. Handmade crafts, local spices, one-off wares and a rainbow of beautiful clothing distract in all the right ways.
Dinner was served at the famed Dar Soukkar, an impeccably converted sugar barn. This busy (very busy) venue is superb for large or small events – highly recommended as an inclusion in itineraries. An excellent programme of DJs and live acts complements an Asian-inspired menu and superb alcoholic (and non-alcoholic) cocktail list.
A day of discovery in the jaw-dropping Atlas Mountains and Agafay desert – starting with a hot air balloon ride at sunrise. Or, it would have, had the weather been in our favour. We dreamed of the extra Zs we could be catching as we waited for Mother Nature to make her mind up. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be – our group watched the faces of the technical team drop as the wind failed to do the same.
So then, it was time to wind through the Atlas mountains, watching the scenery change (and feeling the temperature drop) stopping off at some ‘off the beaten track’ areas. I was delighted to discover The Women’s Association, dedicated to the production of hand-made argan oil products. Just looking at the process and effort that goes into every drop absolutely validates their price – we happily picked up supplies from the in-house store.
A 40-minute climb brought us to a traditional Moroccan tea stop (my latest obsession) where a local and his family welcomed us into their home. This was such a unique way to learn how this tea is made, brewed, served and shared – we enjoyed wonderful conversations and this family’s warm energy. We drank in the peace, sat quite simply in the middle of nowhere, high up on a mountain, with terrace views over the Agafay Reservoir.
These enriching cultural experiences so far away from high volume, tourist-heavy locations are what crystallise the quality of our trips and experiences. Something I value highly, and always learn so much from.
Back in the 4×4, we bounced our way to an exquisite lunch at Kasbah Beldi Country Club, where the sun turned out to greet us. Surrounded by vineyards, olive trees and pristine nature we toasted another sublime meal before a cheeky Pétanque tournament (yep, it got competitive).
That night, we were to sleep in a luxury tented camp deep in the Agafay desert – think comfy beds, and all the mod cons – even a pool! But not before quad biking through the desert! We were beaming ear to ear as we split off into two groups, exploring the local surroundings, racing camels, (as you do) and pumping with adrenaline. We watched singers, belly dancers and of course our favourite Shashiya hat dancers show off to the backdrop of a burning sunset.
With fabulous people all around, this was a stunning final day (dinner didn’t disappoint – though our own hat dancing did). Nightcaps and star gazing under thick blankets capped off a beautiful time in this alluring, enigmatic country.
It was a true pleasure to share these experiences with such a wonderful group of people.
Marrakech has so much to offer groups of any size – and memories that will simply stay with you forever. I’ll be seeing you, same time next year – you can count on it.