Six Degrees of Separation – Jnane Tamsna, Magic in Marrakech

Six degrees of separation is the idea that all people are six or fewer social connections away from each other. As a result, a chain of “friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. It is also known as the six handshakes rule.

This is how I met Meryanne Loum-Martin and her husband Dr. Gary Martin the charming owners of Jnane Tamsna (Big Garden), in Marrakech. I love a story; I love connections and this meeting has blossomed into a full-blown novella!

Before I departed last November on my Moroccan 19 Day Camel Caravan, an old friend asked if I was visiting Jnane Tamsna, I wasn’t sure, my Journeys are greatly mapped out and sometimes don’t leave much time for impulsiveness in my schedule. A week in the chaos that is Marrakech had me begging for serene settings, gardens for late afternoon lunch. Amangena is always on the top of my list as is Royal Mansour and La Mamounia…when I remembered Jnane Tamsna, voila!

Arrive and meet the stunning proprietress, Meryanne, a striking natural beauty. Extending my enormous, gilded business card, I mention my bay area friends and I am quickly cloaked in a hug! Oh, you are friends with Jenny’s parents? My husband Gary was in their wedding in Berkeley!  Yes, I knew the background – I was now practically family!

Mosey through the beautiful wild gardens, and nosh at the edge of the pool on a sumptuous salad and yummy ice cream for dessert. Meryanne and Gary return to chat, she mentions she is leaving soon for Paris- Me too!  My son was planning to meet me for Thanksgiving and mounting Covid cases sent him home early. I mention I have reservations for the Alain Ducasse Pop up Dinner and the Louis Foundation exhibit – Meryanne checks calendar, and we have two dates in Paris next week! We add a delightful and delicious rainy-day lunch at Pavilion de la Reine as a guest of her friend, the owner, Jérôme Chevalier.

The story continues as I plot a month of working from Morocco before European spring travel. Three days stay at Jnane Tasmna and Meryanne consulting with one of my visiting clients. She has a design studio in the souk where one can purchase local décor, pieces which she has designed or had made by her legion of fine local craftsmen. She has an impeccable eye and amazing resources – and is frequently involved in community projects for local businesspeople.

I realized when I returned home, her book, Inside Marrakesh: Enchanting Homes and Gardens was in my library.

Jnane Tamsna blends Meryanne Loum-Martin’s splendid interior design and Gary Martin’s serene nine-acre garden. Integrating 5 houses, 5 pools and a tennis court, this unique boutique property offers 24 individual rooms, scattered about between five private villas with pools and gardens and can be reserved fully exclusive for private events. 

To describe this property as a hotel is not quite accurate, it is more like an extension of a gorgeous rambling family home. Multiple salons are connected by gardens and stunning sunny terraces. Cushy loungers, cozy corners for reading, napping or working. At six pm, an assistant wanders through the property, lighting hundreds of candles and all the fireplaces – it’s truly a magical transformation. Bubbly is served and all is well in the world at Jnane Tasmna!

Wander the paths of the botanical garden, enjoy a refreshing swim in one of the five swimming pools and savor a delicious lunch in the shade of the elegant date palms… all part of a refreshing and rejuvenating day at Jnane Tamsna. Ride a camel through the date palms, improve your back hand at tennis, cruise the medina in a sidecar …or simply lunch and lounge around the pool. My clients arrived in a horse drawn carriage for a romantic private dinner in one of the candle lit salons.

This is a very relaxed atmosphere, I could have moseyed about barefoot, but I didn’t! Located in the Palmeraie, the historic palm grove that borders Marrakech, town is not far, but the jumble of Marrakech is left behind in the quiet garden oasis. The entire property feels like a large secret garden.

The rooms vary in size and are impeccably decorated in an eclectic combination of colorful textiles, African art, all with Meryanne’s elegant boho chic sense of style. A delightful mix of Moroccan crafts with Middle Eastern furnishings and bright colorful walls, it’s beyond comfortable. Many rooms have fireplaces, most have deep soaking tubs and spacious bathrooms. It’s abundantly clear they share a deep passion and deep knowledge of Morocco and its culture.

All the 24 rooms are light and airy, and open out onto verandahs that overlook the gardens. Decorated with Meryanne’s impeccable and eclectic style, with an amazing collection of African textiles, reflecting the Martin’s wide-ranging travels and interests. Meryanne’s flawless style is present everywhere throughout the property.

Gary Martin, a respected ethnobotanist, tends the ever-changing garden, Meryanne, a French-Senegalese designer, is responsible for the interiors and the elegant meals and an abundance of ever-changing floral bouquets.

Gary, wanders through the property greeting guests, and has an impressive CV as a cultural anthropologist and ethnobotanist. A former University lecturer, he is the founder of the Global Diversity Foundation. The Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports local communities along with agricultural, biological, and cultural diversity. Gary oversees farm gardens off property which grow herbs and crops for local restaurants.

Dinners in the salon or on a private terrace make the most of sun-ripe vegetables and pungent herbs plucked directly from the organic gardens. Meals are never in one prescribed location, and the tables are beyond spectacular in settings and décor. It’s magic, truly! Every meal I’ve enjoyed has been fresh, creative, and delicious.

 Jnane Tamsna is an enchanting oasis just outside the city of Marrakech and is far from a typical hotel property in Marrakech. Creature comforts abound, casual chic style and effortless dining in stunning salon locations or amid the garden palms, poolside. Highly Recommend for short or long visit, I can envision moving in for a month or longer!