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Hotel Selman, located about 20 minutes outside of city center is palace on 15 acres also home to an impressive collection of Arabian thoroughbreds. A place where the horses are as glossy as the 75 metre swimming pool. The stunning interiors were designed by iconic designer Jacques Garcia. The hotel’s aesthetic is best described as French Second Empire luxury meets Arabian tradition: lustrous chandeliers, purple and gold upholstery meld with ebony-stained tadelakt plasterwork and miniature monochrome zellige tiling.
My personal hotel favorites are Royal Mansour, La Mamounia, Mandarin Oriental, Selman, and Villa des Orangers.
Fes, the cultural heart of Morocco, has a special selection of small hotels.
Riad Fes is the largest luxury boutique hotel in Fez and is a member of Relais & Chateaux. The hotel comprises 3 old palaces that date back to the 18th century. It’s been opened as a hotel since 2001. It has 26 Rooms and it’s restaurant is considered one of the best in Fes.
A relatively new addition is Hotel Sahrai. Decor is more contemporary, the hotel has two restaurants- one French and one Moroccan. The hotel also boosts a rooftop bar with spectacular sunset views.
What an adventure! The utter silence! The serenity of the sand. Luxurious tented camps that had all possible comforts. I can check camel riding off the list. We hiked up to the highest dune on our vicinity. We watched a sunset and then the next morning rode to watch the sunrise. We had dinner in the main tent, entertained by a group of local musicians. Fun to listen to indigenous music. The fabulous food that comes from an isolated kitchen always amazes me. Wine was flowing- couldn’t have asked for more.
I am traveling with Michael Diamond of highly touted Heritage Tours Morocco. They manage to ferret out all the divine behind the scenes restaurants, Riads, shops and sights that are a must see. Riads are homes with a central courtyard.
Fes, considered the cultural center of Morocco was a pleasant surprise. Heavily influenced by the French occupation from 1912 -1956, the city is filled with gardens. French is spoken liberally. Restaurants seem to have a strong French flavor. Part of the must see adventure is the Souk ( Market)
Highlights of PURE
My focus was mostly on SE Asia and Africa, but I found some incredible new properties and Suppliers from all over the world.
Song Saa-Cambodia- At the top of my list.
Brand new 5 star luxury island resort off the coast of Cambodia. To get there one would fly to Phonm Phen and helicopter, or fly to Siem Reap and fly a shuttle.
Tiger Blue- Indonesia – a beautifully fitted Charter Junk that sails the Indonesian islands.
Some set dates for 2013. Really looks like a spectacular option for SE Asia.
Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio- Uruguay-
Artistic, food and wine experience. Fabulous property combines with its sister resort 5 minutes away on the beach.
Denis Private Island- Seycelles
a lovely private island alternative to North Island, and Fregate. Cottages looked very comfortable, and lots of activities.
In Any Event- UK
Darling ladies that are incredibly connected to any country house or higher up in the UK. They have behind closed door access to private gardens, homes, people,etc.
Baines River Camp- Zambia- Luxury camp located on the Zambizi. Lodgings looked upscale and delightful.
Selous Camps in Tanzania- More authentic Safari experience.
Castiglion del Bosco- Near Siena owned by the Ferragamo family, this villa is done so beautifully and elegantly one could move here.
Villa des Orangers- Marrakech- The place to stay in Marrakech
Camp Ya Kanzi- Chyulu Hills, Kenya- Highly environmental luxury camp with a huge focus on giving back to the tribes that surround them.
Tsawlu Kalahari Reserve-South Africa Relais & Chateaux Luxury Camp on the Kalahari Desert. Everything is carefully thought out. Game drive at your leisure- service is designed to revolve around the guests and their wishes.
Maison des Reves- Morocco- Extraordinary Kasbah and Desert camp experiences.
One of the most coveted conferences to attend is the PURE conference in Marrakech. The conference committee scours the world for the best of the best and it shows. All of the suppliers are top notch. Perfect for learning about new destinations, hotels, camps, destination management companies, and most importantly new experiences. PURE is about experiential travel. I am privileged to be going and I hope to share my experience with my clients and friends. They are the ones that will benefit as much as I will.