Riad Kinza - Marrakech Morocco
The Luxury Link Auction package to the Riad Kinza in Marrakech, Morocco proved to be a real bargain and a great base for exotic explorations.
We were treated more like "members" of the Bourski family (owners of the Riad), rather than just "hotel guests."
Kamal, manager and son of the owner, greeted us as soon as we cleared customs at the airport and filled us in on a little history on the drive to the riad.
Upon our arrival, as there was only one other couple in residence, we were given our choice of the remaining suites.
We selected a lavishly decorated second floor suite separate living room with fireplace, spacious bedroom and ensuite bath.
Kamal and the staff accommodated our every request and wish.....beverages, sweets on call, interesting breakfasts (included) and suggestions for seeing the city.
One afternoon, his father, Mohamed (a professional guide of more than 30 years to heads of state, assorted celebrities and VIPs....and even "commoners" such as ourselves) escorted us on a fabulous walking tour of the sights, sounds and fragrances of the ancient souks.
Safety and personal security were never an issue for us.
By the second day into the evening, we walked through the dimly lighted and mostly crowded alleyways of the old Medina and conducted our own unescorted explorations.
Any visit to Marrakech must include a
stroll to the main medina and square of Jemaa-el-Fna, the heart of the city. At 1700 hours, the food stalls begin to open and offer every variety of vegetables, fish and meat. By 2100 to 2200 hours, it is hard to move through the crowds who gather to observe performers of every kind, including snake charmers, singers, musicians, story tellers and acrobats. The healers and fakirs with pots of herbs join scene always
ready to dispense cures for any ailment imaginable.
Even when we managed to get lost (and that is always a part of the experience), we found the local people more than happy to redirect us in the right direction.
We ate at a number of local restaurants and found most served excellent food, provided continental service (Le Pavilion[/i][/b] http://www.restaurantlepavillon.com/
and La Trattoria[/i][/b] http://www.latrattoriamarrakech.com/
were two favorites) and were reasonably priced.
Our most memorable dinner, prepared by the resident personal chef of the Bourski family, was a traditional Moroccan tangine served to us on the roof top gardens of the riad, seated on pillows, with a clear blue star filled sky as our ceiling of stars, we feasted and watched and
listened to the exotic sounds of the city.
At our request, Kamal arranged for a driver and private car for an overnight visit to the famous Kasbah du Toubkal
http://www.kasbahdutoubkal.com/, where we enjoyed trekking in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains and met some of the local Berber villagers.
Find a local guide to take you to some of the more remote surrounding Berber villages. We stopped at the home of one family and chatted (through the aid of our guide) with the residents....they served us fresh mint tea while we were exposed to a bit of local culture.
We were treated to a snow shower one morning blowing down from the mountain peaks....beautiful! We took most of our meals outside on the dining terraces....snow covered mountains and remote villages made great backdrops during the day and the lack of ambient light at night, allowed the stars to put on a heavenly light show for dinner.
We found the staff most willing to accommodate our needs....being vegetarians, they looked out for our meals as well. As first time hammam users....they instructed us on the art and techniques of the baths....the lathering up with locally produced olive oil soap and proper dousing of each other with buckets of wood-fired heated spring water....followed by plunges into cold pools - stimulating to say the least!
Visit this very special place, soak in all it has to offer (including the hammam)...especially the surrounding villages and reach out to meet the Berber people.
The Berbers are proud of their history and abilities to exist and excel under difficult conditions.
Most, if not all, will openly welcome you and invite you to learn about their people and accomplishments.
What a memorable experience!
Try some hiking and trekking....it's worth a few Euros to have a local guide lead the way....especially, since the weather can and does change frequently and it is best to have someone to take the fast way home when the snow showers hit or the rain gods open up with full force.
When can we return and stay longer??
Great place to spend a couple of nights.
On our ride back to Marrakech, we stopped at Sir Richard Bransons Kasbah Tamadot for a quick look around and cup of mint tea.
While the Branson property was plush in every sense of the term, it just seemed to insulate the guests from the type of experiences and interactions we
at Kasbah du Toubkal.but then, maybe thats what the Branson guest is seeking...high priced insulation in a remote destination!
No reflection on the Branson experience, but it does seem to lack so much of the local culture and interchange opportunities available in this exotic country!