Easter in a Moroccan Villa

Dates: 13th – 17th April 2017

Bottles of Moroccan Sahara Rosé consumed: 42. Move over, Provence, we’ve got a new favourite rosé region

Meals eaten: 11 One in a local Berbers home, one in the middle of the Sahara desert, naturally.

Camels ridden: 1 In evening attire, no less

Shishas smoked: 4 It would be rude not to

Belly dancers challenged to a dance off: We’ll never tell…

Average temperature: A dry, desert heat of 30C. With a sun strong enough to give the perfect tan (and burn for those who neglected to apply their G&T SPF)


Watch the full video from our Morocco Weekend, filmed by Freya McOmish:

THURSDAY

Shuttled from the airport by a private G&T transfer, our guests were welcomed to our lavish villas with Gin & Tonics mixed by our bartender for the weekend, Mohammed. After a quick rundown of the weekend, revellers made their way through lanes of Cyprus trees to their opulent rooms; many complete with indoor fireplaces, indoor & outdoor baths and showers and outdoor “moon beds”to stargaze on as you doze off…

We got to know each other over the first of many tagine dinners, and enjoyed our first starlit swim in the pool. 

FRIDAY

The adventurous set out for the desert after breakfast on quad bikes, Mad Max-ing our way through the Sahara. After racing over dunes, flying through the arid desert and manoeuvring through oasis palm groves, we stopped by a nomad’s tent for the quintessential mint tea always in great abundance in Morocco. After sipping our “Berber’s whisky” and wiping more dirt off our faces, we headed back to the villa for a lunch under the olive grove.

Keen to get our Patrick Swayze on, we were driven to the local country club for a pottery class. We spent time in the beautiful rose gardens, stopped by the haven of a greenhouse (complete with self-playing piano) and sipped more tea on rugs before learning how to make candle sticks and mini tagines on the pottery wheel. Poking our heads round the corner of the studio, we were transfixed by glass blowers’ intricate work.

We changed into cocktail attire for the evening, and were greeted by a camel awaiting us in our garden. After a few necessary rides around the property and photos we headed to the rooftop for sunset cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. The sun dipped into the plains of the desert, and we headed to the outdoor dining room for a beautifully candlelit meal. Shishas awaited us after dinner, and Mohammed kept the drinks flowing as we danced all night long…

SATURDAY

After some much needed coffee and breakfast, we headed off for our Atlas Mountains tour, run by our incredibly knowledgeable tour guide.  We stopped by an Argan oil factory (the Moroccan secret to great skin and nails) run by local Berber women, fascinated by their trade.

Once in the Berber village, we learned what makes the Berbers a unique tribe: one male is buried in a crypt in the village, and all future tribesmen in the village descend from him. We hiked up to another local village, and were welcomed intolocal’s home for a Moroccan lunch of tagine with regional olive oil and handmade bread.

After a long, sweaty day, Hammam was just what he doctor ordered, and we enjoyed a private scrub-down and essential oil massage in our spa at the villa. Rejuvenated enough to keep the party going after dinner, we set off for Palais Jad Mahal, a decadent restaurant/bar with interiors we’ve only ever dreamt of, belly dancers and a live Moroccan band.

SUNDAY

Easter morning in the Marrakech Souks> Easter morning anywhere else. Our guides took us through the sensory overload that is the Medina and Souks of Marrakech, and we learned about the history and future of Morocco as we took in the vibrant colours and smells of the tiny laneways. We laughed with the salesman in the rug shop, so skilled at his profession, I now have a beautifully woven Moroccan rug in my bedroom. Inside his medicine shop, a Berber pharmacist gave us natural remedies for our hangovers, and gave the gentlemen in our group – unsolicited – advice on virility herbs.

A long, lazy lunch and afternoon spent in the pool was exactly what we needed before our last night together.

After changing into Moroccan garb we had picked up at the markets, we set out for the deep Sahara desert in small vans, arriving at a luxury camp site set up for us. Wine and traditional Moroccan snacks awaited us, and we decided the best place to watch the sunset would be reached by climbing up a hill over the horizon. The breath-takingly beautiful views did not disappoint, and we headed back to our tent to enjoy dinner, complete with Moroccan lanterns, glassware and of course, tagines. It was very hard to pull ourselves away from the campfire after dinner, but it was getting very late and our flight was very early…

All photographs by Katie McKnoulty of The Travelling Light