We first went to Morocco some 25 years ago. It was a challenge back then to find an American who knew where the country was, much less one who had been there. Our return trip, several years ago, was an eye-opener—the country was now “on the map.”
Morocco attracts people—often artistic people—who fall in love with the country’s romantic medinas, sweeping landscapes, intricately patterned art and welcoming people. Because of its strategic location on European and African trading routes, it became a fascinating potpourri of cultures—Islamic, Jewish, Spanish, French and Berber—all of which have left their mark on architecture, decor, religion and cuisine.
If you go, don’t miss Marrakesh and her luxurious riads (traditional Moroccan homes or palaces with interior courtyards and gardens), many of which have been converted into tiny inns or restaurants—all within the old city walls. There are new luxury hotels, too. The Four Seasons Resort Marrakesh opened in June 2011, while the opulent Taj Palace Marrakesh is scheduled to open this spring.
Also check out the fourth annual Marrakesh Biennale (ending March 4), an event, organized every two years, that draws visual artists, writers, and filmmakers from around the world.
Look for a new book to be published this May, Marrakesh By Design (Workman Publishing, 2012), by Maryam Montague. It focuses on Moroccan decor and will be available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The author, half American and half Iranian, has lived in Egypt, Senegal, Nepal, Tunisia, Namibia, Paris and New York. “Then,” she says, “came Morocco… and all of its gorgeous madness!” Montague and her husband run a boutique guesthouse, Peacock Pavilion, located in an olive grove outside Marrakesh. In her award-winning blog (www.mymarrakesh.com) she shares her thoughts on many topics related to Marrakesh: art, interior design, shopping and travel ideas.
For more travel information, contact the Moroccan National Tourist Office in New York City (Tel: 212-221-1583; website: www.visitmorocco.com).
If you seek an unusual, customized trip to Morocco, check out Heritage Tours (www.htprivatetravel.com). President Joel Zack is a Fulbright Scholar who has written about Morocco and traveled all over the world.