About gbooks

Our luxury travel service puts the ultimate touch on Journeys reflecting a unique experience of a lifetime; we design Legacy Travel for our clients. Our focus on bespoke Journeys entails more than a creative idea and a few reservations. We hand select our land teams, guides, behind the scenes experts - all who reflect our passion for excellence and personalized service. I’m passionate about travel and unique experiences; interested in meeting local people,studying architecture, discovering and learning as much as possible about every city I visit. I adore Paris, yearn to see more of Africa, a recent visit to Istanbul reminds me that there is much more to see in Turkey. A passage to India allowed me to explore the rich and diverse culture, and I barely scratched the surface of this amazing country. Love to sail, discover music and indigenous food of each region, seek out the best markets and design, and of course dine at the local restaurants. I particularly love roaming Africa, recently explored Argentina and India, which deserve another visit. A devoted Francophile, love all things Parisian, world music, excellent wines & champagne.

Serendipitous Sojourn. Fairmont La Marina Rabat-Salé

Extreme heat warnings, Europe was on fire, record setting temperatures and humidity…not headlines you want to read prior to departure anywhere! My European @SeaDream Journey was etched in stone and my original itinerary included days of midsummer wandering in Rome and Paris.

Travel Lesson: Pivot! A last-minute invitation to meet European friends in Rabat influenced my itinerary. From Rome, a quick flight to Casablanca, where temperatures and sea breezes on the northern Atlantic provide natural summer air conditioning. Just say yes! Looking toward a blistering week in Italy, Plan B hatched. Rabat!

La Marina Rabat-Salé, Morocco

My ageless 96-year-old Auntie still fondly remembers her life in Rabat as the wife of an Airman in the U.S. Air Force. Although I’ve driven from Casablanca to Tangier, I hadn’t explored this beach area of Morocco. Rabat, the capital of Morocco is located on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the river Bou Regreg. A cultural city deep-rooted in the history of its Arab-Muslim past and Western modernism. 

The adorned city encompasses the new town conceived and built under the French Protectorate from 1912 to the 1930s, including royal and administrative areas, residential and commercial developments and the Jardins d’Essais botanical gardens. It also encompasses older parts of the city dating back to the 12th century. The new town is one of the largest and most ambitious modern urban projects built in Africa in the 20th century and probably the most complete. The older parts include Hassan Mosque, begun in 1184, and the Almohad ramparts and gates, the only surviving parts of the project for a great capital city of the Almohad caliphate as well as remains from the Moorish, or Andalusian, principality of the 17th century. Rabat is also a modern eco-responsible capital with its green spaces. Beautiful parks beckon, the Exotic Gardens of Bouknadel, only a few miles from the city. Rabat boasts an exceptional coastline on the Atlantic Ocean, with miles of hospitable beaches.

Plan B – Act Two. The Tribe invite was oversubscribed, history confirms I need a secure cozy nest, especially after a week of blistering Italian heat. 

Rabat may not be on your radar, Morocco is on a building binge, you’ll be hearing much about Rabat’s efforts to attract affluent tourists – with a Four Seasons and a Ritz Carlton being built on the seafront. The Grand Théâtre de Rabat, designed by Zaha Hadid, is an impressive pure white architectural masterpiece, shaped like the head of a serpent. Nearby the soon-to-be-opened Mohammed VI Tower holds the crown as the second-tallest building in Africa, visible for 31 miles.

A new Marina leading to the Atlantic via the mouth of the river Bou Regreg is filling up with fishing boats and pleasure yachts, including the King’s yacht. Where to stay? The new Fairmont La Marina Rabat Salé Hotel and Residences. The hotel’s design has been inspired by “a majestic cruise liner dropping anchor on the estuary”, terraces offer 360- degree waterfront views.

View from my Terrace Suite, Fairmont Rabat-Salé

First of many accolades, the patience displayed by my ever-changing dates. Just come, we are here for you! The former GM Jerome Lobier, is endowed with the Hospitality Gene. The Golden Key decorated concierge was beyond helpful and knew everything. These Golden Key Hotel Concierges are the elite concierges, part of an association called Les Clefs d’Or, which means the keys of gold — because these golden keys can open any door. He knew if my drink was late at the roof top bar, the general looking out for his guests, nothing gets by Head Concierge, Jaafar!

I jest that Moroccan time is not dissimilar to Kenyan time, my bags pop out of the plane after an hour, Inshallah! Inshallah has many cultural meanings, an entire post could be written on the usage of Inshallah.

Onward to a midnight arrival to Rabat, with 24 hour Fairmont room service, Moroccans are night owls, dinner at midnight is not unusual – weary American knowing this fact, subsists on crackers on the Royal Air Maroc flight and no Champers, a first after a 12-hour travel day from Rome…site inspections and meals in Rome along the way – and who thinks I am perpetually on vacation?!

Welcome staff are enthusiastic and promise to send me lists of activities from the concierge desk.  But first my suite – my Heritage Suite was OTT! On the top floor, a corner wrap around suite with multiple terraces, sublime outdoor lifestyle. I am one of those who never closes glass doors, fresh air billowing the white cloud like drapes inward. I’m not keen on AC unless necessary and with lower temps and a sea breeze in Rabat, this is a serene sanctuary. The living room alone drew admiration from me, authentic Moroccan color scheme, black and white marble diamond tiles, and comfy furniture. Opening to an expansive wrap around terrace overlooking the sea to the ancient Kasbah of the Oudayas, a breathtaking view. Two bathrooms, one for my guests, my soaking tub opened to another deck.

A long slog from Rome, I adapt on arrival with dinner at 1 am on my terrace under a half moon, locals still milling the streets below, my opening assimilation effort! 

Moroccans are known for their warm hospitality, evident in every aspect of the Fairmont La Marina Rabat Salé Hotel. Morning coffee to my room is how I begin, room service clarified Moroccan coffee or Americano coffee? Good opening as I don’t communicate well without my initial infusion.  My favorite morning wait staffer was Maha – she will excel in the hospitality industry. Ms. Gwen, I brought you dates as well – mind reader. Again, served on my terrace with local life assembling on the riverbank beach in celebration of the annual Feast of the Throne.

Rooftop Bar, Fairmont La Marina Rabat-Salé

As the name suggests, the Feast of the Throne is a day held in honor of the King’s ascension to the throne. Held on 30 of July, it honors the current king of Morocco, His Majesty King Mohammed VI. The day is one of much rejoicing and festivity. While the Royal Palace hosts the primary festivities, many cities, towns, and villages spread across the country also celebrate. On the banks of the river, this translated to rhythmic African music rocking the beach for 18 hours on the weekend and entertaining thousands of local beach goers.

I was fascinated by the scene – it was the Amalfi coast postcard of brightly colored beach umbrellas. Families, in traditional Hijab, umbrellas were encircled with colorful textiles for changing.

Vendors roamed the sand, buried under puffy colorful beach toys. In the water, floats with slides were popular, and on the sand, of course, football! I didn’t see any camels like I’ve seen in Agadir, a few policemen rode stunning stallions along the beach paths.

I could spend all day observing the warm greetings – hugs, head bobs, handshakes…culture on a major scale, and viewing without intruding.

Back to the Fairmont – the spa is heavenly, with 10 treatment rooms including rooms for couples. Services include deep-tissue massages, hot stone massages, sports massages, and facials. Inside, modern finishes are paired with traditional Moroccan design to create a striking feel of glamour and opulence. Choose from four signature experiences: Detox, Destress, Energy and Sleep, each built around the beneficial properties of a specific flower or plant. Slayed by a travel bug, I chose the Energy Massage, within 90 minutes I was ready to head to the sea for a boat excursion, miracle massage!

Spa at Fairmont La Marina Rabat-Salé

The rooftop bar — set adjacent to the heated hotel infinity pool — pops to life in the evening with vivacious dance music and a party atmosphere of intriguing stylish locals. Due to Kings Day, flying parachute stuntmen sailed from the sky and landed below the bar. On a sunny evening, there is no better place to be than on the balcony bar. The restaurant Le Deck serves a mix of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine alongside expert mixology, taking in the panoramic views of the twin cities of Salé and Rabat.

A delightful afternoon boat jaunt around the harbor, bringing the ancient Kasbah of the Oudayas up close, swimmers make their way across the river, fishermen heading out to the Atlantic, a perfect sunset end of my stay.

Shukran Fairmont La Marina Rabat-Salé for the divine escape. I’ll never forget my terrace under the moon, my suite bed surrounded by the billowing sails in the nighttime breeze, more Moroccan memories!

Highly Recommend!

Inn of Five Graces, Santa Fe – Autumn Activities

Santa Fe transforms with vibrant colors and events during the captivating fall season — offering visitors a journey into immersive culture, cuisine, and natural wonders. A brief list of some captivating events that make this season in Santa Fe truly special. And even more special when you stay at Inn of Five Graces.

Inn of Five Graces Santa Fe

I’ve been a frequent visitor to this picturesque city, the oldest capital in the United States, the charming city is set at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and possesses a unique Southwestern charm all its own. A few miles south, these mountains diminish down from a height of 13,000 feet to a flattened level plain, marking the end of the North American Rockies.

Explore the charming old town, with its avenues of art galleries, chic boutiques, and noteworthy restaurants. I love staying in the heart of downtown near the main Plaza, a short walk from the many attractions. The secluded Inn of the Five Graces is across from San Miguel Mission, the oldest church in the United States.

A desert jewel, The Inn of the Five Graces in Santa Fe wows with exotic decor, raw silks and rich color that seamlessly blends the Southwest with the Far East. Step through its doors, and a feast of color and texture awakens the imagination. Each distinctive room showcases handcrafted artisan pieces and eclectic treasures from the historic Silk Road that once linked Europe and Asia. Echoes of rustic Spain, lingering in New Mexico’s Hispanic heritage, are reflected in the diverse style, a trademark synthesis of East and West. The richness will evoke memories of your Journeys to Istanbul and India. The family who own the Inn have roamed the world to bring together Persian, Indian, Tibetan, Uzbek and other Eastern architectural elements and antiques with classic Santa Fe adobe construction. Surprisingly it works, providing an organic yet luxurious warm atmosphere. My suite was made even more cozy with its traditional Kiva wood burning fireplace. Even the curved ceilings are not without décor, wooden doors and trim are hand-carved, and owner Sylvia Seret has created intricate tile mosaics in every bathroom. The mosaics are simply mesmerizing.

The 24-suite boutique hotel is housed in a collection of traditional adobe homes – one is 450 years old. The earthy structures of Southwest adobe, a sturdy mixture of mud and straw, were transformed into enchanting spaces with exotic antiques, rugs, textiles and captivating architectural elements. 

SANTA FE AUTUMN EVENTS

Wine and Chile Fiesta: September 27 – October 1

The Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta is a culinary celebration that brings together renowned chefs, winemakers, and food enthusiasts from all over the world. Visitors can savor exquisite wine pairings and mouthwatering dishes created by local culinary artists, showcasing the unique flavors of New Mexican cuisine. The charming backdrop of Santa Fe’s historic downtown adds to the event’s charm, making it a perfect way to immerse yourself in the city’s rich gastronomic traditions.

Fiesta: October 7 – October 15

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, just a short drive from Santa Fe, is one of the world’s largest hot air balloon festivals. A breathtaking spectacle, imagine hundreds of colorful hot air balloons ascending into the crisp New Mexico sky at sunrise. Whether you choose to participate in the mass ascension or simply watch in awe, this mesmerizing event offers a unique way to experience the beauty of the Southwest during the fall season.

Foliage Season: Late September to Early November 

Autumn in Santa Fe means the arrival of the breathtaking foliage season. As the summer heat gives way to cooler temperatures, the golden aspens in the nearby Sangre de Cristo Mountains create a stunning contrast against the clear blue skies. Take a scenic drive or hike through the mountains to immerse yourself in the beauty of fall foliage.

Ring of Fire Solar Eclipse: October 14

Witness the celestial wonder of the Ring of Fire Eclipse as it peaks in the New Mexico Skies.  From our prime viewpoint we will see the dramatic sight of the Sun as a thin ring, almost but not completely eclipsed by the Moon. Special outings are planned for this rare astronomical event.

Bosque del Apache Migration: November to February

Just a day trip away, you can experience the incredible spectacle of nature at Bosque del Apache, a National Wildlife Refuge nestled in the beautiful New Mexico high desert. Each year, from November to February, thousands of birds embark on their remarkable migration journey along this section of the Rio Grande, creating a breathtaking spectacle as snow geese, sandhill cranes, and various waterfowl descend upon the refuge. Wintering birds have been drawn to this fertile habitat for thousands of years. The migration is an ancient tradition. Sandhill cranes migrate south from the northern Rockies, joined by ducks from the Great Plains, snow geese and Ross’s geese. Native American hunters took advantage of the annual abundance. They left ancient depictions of cranes and geese etched in the boulders.

2023 Travel + Leisure Readers’ Choice Awards: Winner of the #1 Best Hotel in Santa Fe by Travel+Leisure.”

Highly Recommend !