The trip to Morocco’s favourite tourist resort started as it went on under the calm guidance and expertise of Karen Kennaby – a five star hotel in Marrakesh, rooftop restaurant and wine. She organised this week-long trip with inside knowledge, grace under pressure and with a spiritual side which definitely rubbed off on the 7-strong party of fabulous women – two from Denver, Colorado; one from Qatar, another from Dubai and three Brits.
Karen’s organisation skills are second to none – every time I commented that a guide or host was wonderful, I found out that of course she had done her homework and booked the best. So the people guiding us were well-informed, welcoming and genuinely interested in showing us the best of Marrakesh.
The first day was packed. Up at 4 am we were driven to a balloon launching pad and, sustained by coffee, rose thousand of kilometres in the sky – it was blissful and I swear all the bags under eyes disappeared (not keen on such early starts!). Although hanging over a landscape with tiny sheep and even tinier people the flight was sheer joy. And to see that huge balloon packed into a bag with the dismantled basket on the back of the trucks taking them back to base was incredible.
Later that day we saw Yves St Laurent’s garden, went walkabout on a square loaded with snake charmers and other delights plus a food tour where we tasted all manner of Moroccan delicacies. At one stage I asked Karen if it was still Sunday!
Other highlights included staying at the hotel where film stars tarried awaiting their call from the nearby film studios; a date market; and the Valley of the Roses where we lay on a floor covered in pink, sweet-smelling roses. And learned how they distil and treat the roses for perfumiers all over the world. Our guide was Mostapha the most genial, empathetic host of our hotel – Dar Jnaan Tioura. He is probably the best hotelier I have met and is doing well since he has no less than 3 of his 12 siblings working in the kitchen. The food was magnificent and accommodation top quality.
Then came the camels. I was apprehensive since they have no brakes and our journey was well over an hour. I was on a whiteish camel who seemed to have fallen in love with my pink trainer. And it was fine going up the many hillocks in the Sahara Desert, it was coming down the hill which caused me to scream (lightly I hope). We stayed in tents in the middle of the Desert – and had wi fi! I noticed some Bedouins on the road in their traditional costume but strangely talking on their phones in the middle of nowhere.
Karen was the key to amazing scenery, fabulous food, exotic places, 5 star hotels and a level of experience which stood us in good stead. I know she is organising other trips and I intend to be in the queue to sign up. You should, too.
Lady Val Corbett
who came on the Valley of the Roses, Journey of the Senses in April 2019
Find out more about Lady Val’s work here…