Mesmerizing Moroccan Odyssey

Morocco never bores, always intrigues and leaves you wanting more. Once is not enough! Morocco is a land of legends and fascination, despite its closeness to the European continent, its soul lies in the cradle of its North African coastal home. A historically independent nation, it has always been a multi-cultural historic crossroad for trade, ideas and migratory people.

One of our very first Journey clients recreated a Moroccan Odyssey based on his college days in the deserts of Algiers. Wanting to introduce his kids to the exotic deserts and traditions of Morocco, this trip became ‘local legend’; at fundraising events or parties when introducing myself – someone would invariable say: Oh, I know who you are, you designed the amazing Moroccan tented camp complete with camels, daylight dune drives, drumming lessons with nomadic Tuareg, star gazing with an astronomer, the 10 day adventure and exploration was vast!

Recent Journey for a fashion forward client and her photo-bug husband, traveling during Ramadan allowed them to join in with a local family when they broke their fast – this meal is known as Iftar. Traditionally the day time for a Moroccan woman during Ramadan involves a lengthy preparation of the first meal after a day of fasting.

A special table setting is prepared, with a variety of Moroccan breads, dates, milk, Moroccan sweets, eggs, bessara (fava bean soup) along with tea and coffee.

This repast of food depends greatly on the region of Morocco. Our clients experienced this sacred meal with a local Fassi family, which included the table setting process, the call to prayer signifying the beginning of break-fast. Beginning with dates and milk before progressing into the feast.

They also enjoyed a mesmerizing evening with a local story teller, this was one of the highpoints of their Moroccan Journey – they spent a quiet evening dining with a local man and woman who translated ancient Moroccan stories for them. The Moroccan tradition of Hikayat, or storytelling dates back almost 1,000 years, the Master Storyteller recounted tales in Arabic, while his companion translated. Stories were orally passed on through generations of families, this dying art is kept alive by a few Master Storytellers. This ancient traditional entertainment was found in cities throughout Morocco, Marrakech’s Jemaa El Fna square is the only city keeping this tradition alive.

An awe-inspiring country with a strong sense of culture. Open air vendors will tempt you with their colorful wares, snake charmers do exist on the famed Jamaa el Fna Square, in the medina quarter.

Travelling from Fes to the high Atlas Mountains, they relished their authentic experiences at Hotel Kasbah Tamadot, Sir Richard Branson’s Moroccan retreat. Enjoy day trekking and a luxurious stay in a hotel Berber Tent, where you can soak up the views on your private deck equipped with sun loungers and space for outdoor dining, some suites have their own Jacuzzi. After a day of mule trekking through Berber villages, a Jacuzzi is the perfect reward!

Afternoon Architecture & Islamic Gardens Tour. Lose yourself in the gardens of ancient palaces and exotic Riads perfumed with orange blossoms, citrus, blood red roses and the sweetest jasmine. The tour combines an overview of the fascinating and beautiful world of Moroccan Architecture which showcases all the main ornamentation and decorative techniques from floral motifs, geometry, ceramics to calligraphy, symbolic of the rich cultural heritage of the vast Islamic empire and uncovers the mysteries of the Islamic concept of Chahar-bagh, the four-fold garden and leads us to discover earthly paradise revisited.

As described by the couple: a very authentic afternoon was spent in exploring back alleys brimming with traditional craftsmen. Enter into the depths of the tanneries, observe weavers at their loom, engage with the copper workers employing traditional design techniques and discover hidden workshops where generations of artisans ply their individual trades and adapt century old techniques to a modern market.

This artisanal tour is designed to give you an overview of production methods and step by step explanations as you go beyond the traditional medina tour to delve deeper into the world of the artisans of Fes. Meet the artisans themselves as you gain first-hand knowledge of the materials and the processes involved in their daily work. The tour finished with a visit to Fes new artisanal school and exhibition gallery.

Moroccan cuisine has gained massive followers among food connoisseurs. Staples of most meals include lamb, fish and fowl, including pigeon, which is considered a delicacy when baked in pastry, the b’stillah is a national favorite.

Morocco is an enchanting exotic location and has been a favorite of our clients for many many years – we can add authentic tents in the desert, camels to climb the dunes…let your imagination be boundless!

A few suggestions: Arrive Ouled Driss via helicopter for a luxury desert overnight stay.Morning begins with an exhilarating 4-wheel drive adventure through sandy trails, blooming acacia and tamarisk trees to the dunes, reaching the most elaborate and important kasbahs in the Dades Valley. You have seen these vistas used by movie makers for years including Lawrence of Arabia and Jesus of Nazareth.

Meet your decorated camels at end of day for a ride to the highest dunes climbing to the peaks for a spectacular sunset over the Sahara Desert. Chilled drinks, known as sun downers, in hand. A leisurely ride back to your private luxury desert tent erected in the middle of the desert.

Can we tempt you to discover the rich emblematic and colorful nation in Spring or Fall?

Rosewood Miramar Montecito

The ritzy Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort and Hotel in Montecito has finally ascended from a scrap pile on one of the loveliest beachfronts in California. Originally, a small row of cottages along the beach built in 1876, named Miramar, which is Spanish for ‘behold the sea’. For years, more white cottages with bright blue tile roofs were constructed and eventually a hotelier added a pool and created a full resort, it was a chic posh hotel for many years, until it wasn’t. I attended a high school prom at the storied Miramar before it was abandoned and sat in somber deterioration for over 20 years. Many false starts until shopping center magnate Rick Caruso poured millions, into this prime location, possibly over 200 million, according to rumors. Run by the Rosewood, after 12 years of approvals and building, the Grande Dame is highly touted by locals and the glitterati.

Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort

One of my recent sojourns south brought me to the Rosewood Miramar, before I could recommend to my clients I felt a stay was absolutely necessary, since busy railroad tracks bisect the property and Hwy 101 flanks the entire side of the property. I was pleasantly surprised by how unobtrusive the trains and the freeway were to the ambience of the property. Seaside serenity is achieved by tall white walls, compact landscaping and the tracks are imbedded a bit below ground. A charming costumed 24-hour crossing guard sits near the tracks, the area has been designated as a quiet zone, thus the primary warning horn of the train is pretty much all one hears. No clickety clack of loud steel wheels pounding over steel rails. The buildings are elevated as well, so the train doesn’t loom over the property. An afternoon snoozing at the pool was easily achieved, I barely stirred when the train whistle sounded. I’m happy to share that the once cherished destination for a fashionable getaway has been recreated.

The architecture borrows from a mix of the surrounding lush Montecito estates, it feels slightly east coast beachy, with a bit of Southern mansion in the Manor House mixed in, East meets West with an interlude in the South.

Ambassador Suite Living Room, Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort

The Manor House feels formal in the living room area with its grand piano and fireplace, the posh dark paneled Manor Bar with Caruso family photos and family monogram. The crafted cocktail menu is named after classic novels like The Old Man and the Sea, Mornings in Mexico and a Clockwork Orange. From the plush sofas, cocktail in hand enjoy the view over the immaculately trimmed croquet lawn that ends at the Pacific. The entrance feels like a stately home, with custom details, black and white checkered marble tiles and a stately iron curved staircase, sweeping upstairs. There is a Caruso story and it’s obvious with every flair that the owner poured his heart into this property. The eclectic art collection includes original works by Mel Bochner and Fernando Botero.

Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort The Manor Bar
Beach House Suite Living room, Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort

The majority of the 161 rooms are multi-bedroom bungalows set along stepping-stone paths that meander under massive oak trees, scattered across 16 acres of tidy gardens, the white clapboard bungalows open to grassy meadows. Each has a small terrace – a family group could reserve multiple garden units in the center of the property and share the common open space. Upstairs rooms have balconies for privacy.

Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort

The crème de la crème abodes are the suites located in the two-story beach buildings, 26 suites with balconies and complimentary cocktail service sit right over the sand. Waves lapping on the sand, book in hand, I could while away a weekend here, interrupted only by long beach walks.

Amenities: there’s a full spa, a massive gym, a bocce ball court, two cabana-lined pools (one for families, the other for adults), the gated adult pool is far from the fenced kiddo pool that includes a colorful enticing ice cream and sweet shoppe. Seven restaurants and bars, including the cozy Caruso’s, just steps from the beach. Another small outdoor bar serves fish tacos and locally made ice cream on a wide deck above the sand. The much-touted Malibu Farm serves meals all day, fresh farm to table fare and has a shaded outdoor terrace off the Manor House. Much of the grounds and many of the amenities are accessible to the public, CA law provides beach access to everyone.. Pampered Pooch vacationers can order from an assortment of items including a vegetarian burger and V-Dog Kinder Kibble.

Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort, adult pool

Reconnect and unwind at the famed Rosewood Sense spa, which offers a menu of holistic treatments utilizing celebrated indigenous ingredients such as the Montecito Sage Purification. A beach butler mans the pretty turquoise striped Pacific-facing loungers and umbrellas – there’s everything you need. There are two boutiques, totally embodying a Southern California vibe – goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand and The Gatehouse, a trendy concept store.

Activities – Santa Barbara has year around warm weather, despite some of the recent wet winters, I’ve enjoyed 70 degree days in November & December. Whale watching boat trips can be arranged, biking around Montecito is fun, hilly or flat options. The Ganna Walska Lotusland Garden is a wonderful old estate garden known as Lotusland it has been named one of the 10 best gardens in the world and is home to over 3000 plants from all over the globe. The small Santa Barbara Museum frequently has interesting exhibits. Summer concerts in the famed Santa Barbara Bowl has al fresco concerts in the amphitheater April to October and an annual film festival takes place at the Granada Theatre, a century old landmark.

Beach suites with sunset views would be my recommendation, mosey down to the elegant Caruso’s. Coastal cuisine in the signature beachfront restaurant, we enjoyed the center booth with a stunning view of the sea, it’s who you know, isn’t it?!

La Dolce Vita glamor on the American Riviera!

Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort
Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort