ARRIVAL TO MARRAKECH
On arrival at Marrakech airport, you will be met by your driver and taken by private vehicle to your Riad accommodation in the heart of the medina of Marrakech.
You will stay for a total of four nights at the deluxe riad, Demeures d’Orient, situated only a short distance from the enchanting square, Jemaa el-Fna, the focal point of the medina which is akin to a vast open-air theatre, food market and bazaar.
The Demeures d’Orient represents elegance and oriental exoticism, and is a successful fusion of both Africa and the Far East in design. Each room has been crafted to a unique theme close to the owner’s personal travels and artistic career, with spacious bathrooms, inviting salons, and soothing colors. The riad features a hammam and two spa treatment rooms. There is a lavish bar area and dining room either side of the large swimming pool. The roof terrace provides excellent sun bathing opportunities and there is a rooftop bar.
After checking in to your room, you’ll have the option to indulge in a hammam and relaxation in the spa, or take an aperitif at the bar.
Dinner may be taken at any number of excellent Moroccan restaurants in the medina or new town of Marrakech.
Overnight Demeures D'Orient
COOK AT HOME
After breakfast you will be met by your English-speaking guide (who will act as translator today) and driver, to make the short transfer to a residential suburb of Marrakech to meet your hostess, and expert chef, for the day: a local housewife.
This is truly a unique, hands-on experience to learn about authentic Moroccan cuisine and to gain a remarkable insight into the way of life of the Moroccan people.
Your hostess will first take you shopping for ingredients in her local market (souk), where the abundance of fresh, quality, Moroccan-grown produce is simply wonderful. The colors and aromas in the souk will not fail to impress.
After the souk, return home to assist your chef with the preparation of a lunchtime meal. Learn your tutor’s best-kept secrets in her own kitchen. Expect to learn how to bake real bread; prepare & steam couscous to perfection; or conjure up a colorful tagine (the staples of the Moroccan table). Kitchen tasks will be allocated across the group as the chef sees fit.
Thereafter, enjoy genuine, local hospitality as you sit down together to dine.
The rest of your afternoon and evening is at leisure in Marrakech.
Overnight Demeures D'Orient
GARDEN TO TABLE
After breakfast you will be driven to the eco-farm and hotel of Les Terres M’Barka, approx. 30 minutes from Marrakech.
The creation of an intrepid Belgian gastronome–who used to own a Brussels bistro–this elegant hotel, set amongst 15 hectares of olive groves, vegetable gardens and orchards resembles a historic Berber village (or ‘douar’) and is constructed from traditional materials and respecting local architectural details (shaded patios and roof terraces). It has the feeling of an oasis in the middle of a vast desert, with the High Atlas mountains forming an imposing backdrop.
You will have the opportunity to spend the morning in the gardens as you select your own herbs and vegetables from the farm (which also produces its own excellent olive oil) and then prepare a three-course meal with the hotel chef at your own workstation. The cookery lessons are conducted in one of a series of special bungalows that have been converted from a farming barn into state of the art self-catering properties, replete with their own terrace, pool and gardens.
Enjoy your own prepared meal during lunch on an outside patio and admire the mountain views.
The afternoon is spent at leisure. The hotel offers a variety of on and off-site activities, a spa, and a swimming pool.
Overnight Les Terres M'Barka
COOKERY MASTER CLASS IN THE DESERT
After breakfast you will be transferred to another exceptional resort, this time in the “desert of Marrakech”, approx. 50 minutes from the eco-farm, for a full day’s cookery Master Class.
This area is as unique and as close to a desert oasis as you can find. Created by a Frenchman, Frederic, the environs here match the cooking and you will spend a night here, either under luxury Berber canvas or in the traditional guesthouse.
Your culinary day starts with meeting the head chef at the resort and then going to a nearby village for a local shopping experience. Returning to the oasis, the first lesson is in the art of making mint tea. After tea, the chef will lead you on a tour of their garden where their own herbs and vegetables are grown. The resort’s own olive grove produces delicious oil which you will use during the afternoon’s cooking session.
You will break for a light lunch under traditional canvas tents, beautifully furnished with dining and salon areas.
The afternoon cooking lesson will last approximately 3 hours and includes a three-course meal and instruction on how to make bread. You will be able to cook in the open air at your own workstation.
At the end of the class, a break is taken with aperitifs (alcohol is served here), and you can freshen up before enjoying dinner of the meal you spent time preparing. The evening will also be a perfect occasion to stargaze.
If there are people within the group who are not interested in cooking all day, there is the option to horse or camel ride, take a 4×4 or quad excursion of the area, trek the canyons or just relax by the pool.
Overnight Desert of Marrakech
FROM THE PLAINS TO THE ATLANTIC COAST
After breakfast, you will make the private transfer to the Atlantic coastal resort of Essaouira, approximately 3 hours from the “desert” resort.
Essaouira is a charming 18th Century fortified town and formerly a Portuguese stronghold. It is enclosed by medieval battlements, and facing a cluster of rocky offshore islands. Its whitewashed and blue-shuttered medina buildings, wood (thuya) workshops and art galleries, boat-builders and sardine fishermen all provide a colorful contrast to the urban feel of Marrakech. Photographic opportunities are plenty. Many visitors to Essaouira are drawn by the sea breeze that provides ideal conditions for windsurfing and kite surfing.
On arrival at lunchtime, and after checking in at your riad, Dar L’Oussia where you will spend one night, you may wish to eat at one of the many fish stalls near to the port where the morning’s catch is on display and cooked right in front of you.
After lunch you will take a guided tour of this charming town. Explore the port, the lively souk, the traffic-free medina, and the ramparts. An 18th century synagogue may still be visited, testimony to the town’s strong Jewish heritage.
Your evening is spent at leisure.
Overnight Dar L'Oussia
RUSTIC COOKERY AMONGST THE VINES
After breakfast, you will make the short transfer (20 minutes) by private vehicle to a nearby French-owned vineyard, one of Morocco’s best-kept secrets. It is the only vineyard in Morocco outside the more traditional growing regions around Meknes in the north.
This is a highly organic property and not only produces some truly excellent wines, it also makes its own olive and argan oil from its own extensive groves. Part of the vineyard also includes a panoramic restaurant that overlooks the vineyard and surrounding countryside.
You will follow a morning’s cookery class on the grounds of the vineyard with the resident chef, at your own workstation. You will learn grilling and mechoui (bbq) techniques, prepare tajine, couscous, Moroccan bread and sweet Moroccan pastry for dessert, and then dine on your own feast in the restaurant. The vineyard also offers wine to accompany each of your dishes.
The rest of your afternoon is spent at leisure, and you have the option to visit the wine cellars and the rest of the vineyard.
Dinner is included tonight. Overnight accommodation tonight is in en-suite cottages on-site that enjoy a private swimming pool and their own gardens.
Overnight Vineyard Cottages
CLASSIC RIAD COOKERY
After breakfast you will make the private transfer back to Marrakech (approx. 2.5 hours) to return to the riad Demeures d’Orient, and overnight there for two nights.
This afternoon you will follow the riad’s chef during a traditional Moroccan cookery class, preparing a three-course meal (salad or pastilla, tagine, pastry or fruit dessert). The class is usually held on the riad’s rooftop terrace at a special workstation for each guest.
Your evening meal will be your own creation, which you may enjoy in the riad’s restaurant, on the terrace, or at the poolside patio.
This evening you have the further option to use the riad’s spa and hammam.
Overnight Demeures D'Orient
GUIDED TOUR OF MARRAKECH
After a leisurely breakfast your English-speaking guide will meet you to take you on a day’s tour of the city’s main sights. Perhaps the most renowned city in Morocco, Marrakech is at once an exotic cocktail of sights and sounds, elegantly combining the traditional and the cosmopolitan in a blend of architecture, cuisine, folklore, history and art.
Marrakech was founded over 1,000 years ago, the capital of the south, it is otherwise known as the ‘red city’, for the glorious ochre color of its ramparts and buildings. It is Berber in origin and was once the marketplace for the important sub-Saharan trade routes, dealing in slaves, gold, ivory and other goods. The legacy of its historic bazaars lives on today, in its labyrinth of souks and artisans’ quarters in the medina.
There are many historical places of interest to visit and some of the city’s highlights include:
Koutoubia Minaret: The most famous monument of Marrakech is the square tower of the Koutoubia minaret, attached to the Koutoubia Mosque, built in the late 12th century. At about 250 feet high it towers over the Medina thanks to a long-standing planning ordinance that forbids any other building in the old city to rise above the height of a palm tree.
Saadian Tombs: The Saadian Tombs were opened to the public in 1917. They belong to the dynasty which ruled Morocco from the mid 16th to late 17th Century. An enclosed garden, planted with fragrant orange trees and other shrubs, is presided over by two mausoleums that include more than one hundred mosaic-decorated tombs.
El Mellah: Explore the vibrant and historic Jewish Mellah where some of the best jewelry in Morocco is found.
El-Bahia Palace: This 19th century palace is elaborate in its decoration and was built over a period of seven years for Bou Ahmed, the son of the Grand Vizier Si Moussa. It is a fine example of the ‘riad’ architecture. It has row after row of apartments—that once housed Ahmed’s harem—a trapezoidal garden, an elegantly-tiled courtyard, and many hidden treasures enclosed in a magnificent mixture of Andalusian and Moorish architecture.
Break for lunch in the Medina, en route to the Museum of Marrakech complex, with a welcome pause on an airy roof terrace at a smart Moroccan bar/café.
Koranic School Medersa Ben Youssef: Theological college founded by the Merenid Sultan Abu Hassan in the 14th century, and restored in 1564 by the Saadians who made it the largest theological college in the Maghreb and rival to the important Medersa Bou Inania in Fés. No surface of the building is undecorated, and the quality of the craftsmanship is astounding.
Museum of Marrakech: The Museum is housed in a magnificent late 19th Century palace that was built for a prominent Moroccan statesman. The Museum houses exhibitions of Moroccan art and sculpture but it is the building itself that is worth admiring, in particular the hammam area and inner courtyard.
Gardens of Majorelle: A property acquired in 1922 by the painter of the same name, the gardens are a verdant oasis in the heart of the city, rich with various examples of African flora and cooling lily-covered pools. The gardens were restored to their glory in the 1980s by their later owner, Yves Saint Laurent. There is also a Museum of Islamic Arts housed in the Art Deco pavilion in the gardens.
The evening will feature a wine-tasting session at Demeures d’Orient, including a tasting of a selection of six exquisite Moroccan wines, accompanied by canapés and tapas complimentary to the wine selection. The evening may be spent on the expansive rooftop terrace with fine views across the medina rooftops and towards the Koutoubia. The riad offers the option to hold the tasting evening under cover of traditional canvas on the roof terrace should the weather be inclement.
Overnight Demeures D'Orient
TRANSFER TO MARRAKECH AIRPORT
After breakfast, you will be collected to make the short transfer to the airport for your flights home.