Idea Lab – Morocco

At the heart of our office is an Idea Lab: a space in which we are constantly innovating, dreaming, and designing new ways to enhance your travels. It may be our network of contacts that allow us to bring all these ideas to life, but it is you – our clients – who keep us challenged and having fun. Whether your trip is straightforward, over-the-top, or anywhere in the middle, we are always in our lab and ready.

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Food and Wine

“For he who builds his kasbah out of halva; beware the nibblers.”
(Moroccan proverb)

  • Hands-on (or not) participation in the (November) olive harvest in a desert oasis reputed to produce Morocco’s finest olives. Watch extra virgin oil be pressed in front of your eyes and try your own hand. Visit the groves, and if you wish, help out a bit.
  • Curated private cooking lesson with a dada (a traditional Moroccan grandmother who is the master of the family kitchen).
  • Insider tour of local foods and seasonal specialties of the souks.
  • Lunch at a locals-only establishment that is considered to make Morocco’s yummiest tanjia (one of the few dishes traditionally the domain of the men). Your chef has cooked his dish for the Moroccan royal family on numerous occasions.
  • Private workshop in traditional “khoobs”, the hand-made round bread cooked in communal wood-fired ovens in medinas all over Morocco.
  • Intensive private multi-day gastronomy workshop with a well-known cookbook author and journalist.
  • Curated tasting of Morocco’s wines. Remember the French were here.
  • See a whole region in action at the saffron harvest (late October/early November) in one of the world’s most important saffron producing areas. Thread-like stigmas are manually extracted from each flower. Your visit to a family-owned farm will be followed by lunch in a village home.
  • Private lesson in the traditional Moroccan patisserie under the tutelage of a master.
  • Visit a local kasbah in one of the great date-palm oases of the Sahara. Arrive as the finest Moroccan dates are harvested (usually the second half of October) and laid out on the roofs of the kasbahs to dry in a spectacular annual display of color.
  • Home cooking lesson focusing on tajines with an American expat in Essaouira.

We have plenty more up our sleeves. Ask us.


Bring The Kids

  • Private henna and tea ceremony.
  • Visit the movie studio at Ouarzazate, where part of Game of Thrones was shot. Movies filmed here include Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, Kundun, Salmon Fishing in Yemen, Ben Hur, Alexander, Paul Bowles’ The Sheltering Sky and Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much. If a movie is being shot at the time, we may be able to arrange a lunch for you.
  • Make your own taarija, or traditional Moroccan ceremonial drum.
  • Scavenger hunt in the medina of Marrakech.
  • Meet the greatest soccer (futbol) legend of Morocco, Tahar El Khalej. He played in FIFA World Cups in 1994 and 1998 and has 49 caps with the Moroccan International team.
  • Astronomy workshop under the brilliant Saharan sky or the Desert of Agafay outside of Marrakech.
  • Explore the age-old art of woodcarving with traditional artisans and try your hand in this craft under the tutelage of a master.
  • Family cooking lessons in a variety of Moroccan foods.

Many – in fact, most – suggestions in other categories are family-friendly. Plus, we have plenty more up our sleeves. Ask us.


Adventure + Adrenaline

  • Private desert encampment (accessible by 4×4) near the greatest dunes in the Sahara (Erg Chebbi).
  • In the remotest part of the Sahara, accessible by helicopter, a luxury private encampment. Except for your staff, you won’t see another soul.
  • Multi-day ascent of Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa.
  • Camel trekking in the Sahara desert or, alternately, in a small desert only an hour from Marrakech.
  • Sandboarding on Saharan dunes.
  • Multi-day road rally in the Sahara with a former Dakar Rally pilot.
  • ATV adventures in the Sahara.
  • Pilot the Predator X-18s ultra-terrain vehicle in the Sahara.
  • Mule trekking in the High Atlas Mountains.
  • Windsurfing in Essaouira and kitesurfing in Dakhla.
  • Surfboarding at Taghazout.
  • Swimming with dolphins (if you get lucky) or sea-kayaking at Dakhla.
  • Hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camel riding, all over Morocco, from the mountains to the desert to the beach.

We have plenty more up our sleeves. Ask us.


The Arts

  • Meet one of Marrakech’s most talented fashion (and most famous) designers. Together visit the fabric souk before heading to her studio and together designing your own kaftan.
  • Visit the medina home of, and enjoy lunch or dinner with, the author of an internationally award-winning book on the colorful experience of restoring his home.
  • Create your own perfume with Morocco’s most famous perfume designer.
  • Owner-led visit of Marrakech’s top photo gallery.
  • Private tour of the Art Deco district in Casablanca with the person leading the charge for its preservation.
  • Design (with the help of an artisan) and craft your own scarf using traditional techniques. Your day starts in a small village famous for the quality of its wool.
  • Spend a morning immersed in the art of traditional leather making in the souks of Fes, ending with creating your own bag, babouches (traditional Moroccan slippers), or jacket.
  • Workshop in the fine art of zellij – delicately hand cut ornamental mosaic ceramic tiles)

We have plenty more up the sleeves of our custom-designed kaftans. Ask us.


Live Like a Local (or at least meet some)

  • Private storytelling with young, English-speaking storytellers who will impart the humor and wisdom of this time-honored Moroccan tradition.
  • Dinner with a local family in Marrakech.
  • Women’s day in Marrakech exploring family life, cooking, market shopping, local hammam, and the rituals of both the tea ceremony and the henna ceremony.
  • Meet leaders of a local NGO focused on the many issues which women in Morocco face, in a remote oasis town near Ouarzazate.
  • Agriculture, gardens and water are critical to survival in Morocco. Spend the morning with an expert in this field who will show you examples in the palm grove outside Marrakech.
  • Head out to the market town of Azrou to buy the finest wool in Morocco. See the workings of a traditional loom and your scarf will be created for you.
  • Visit the Black Magic market in Sefrou.
  • There are weekly markets that travel from village to village all over Morocco. We will do our best to make sure you are in the right place at the right time.

We have plenty more up our sleeves. Ask us.


Jewish Heritage

Moroccans, both Jewish and Muslim, are extremely proud of the coexistence that has always characterized this kingdom. While only a fraction of the once 300,000 strong Jewish community remains, there are former synagogues and cemeteries all over Morocco in both city and village.

For more about our own connections to Jewish heritage, please visit Jewish Heritage: It’s All Personal

  • Visit mellahs (Jewish quarters), synagogues (in use and as monuments), and cemeteries in most of the major cities, including: Fes, Marrakech, Casablanca, Rabat, Tangier, and Essaouira. The major communal institutions of Casablanca can be visited as well.
  • Experience one of the unique aspects of Moroccan Jewish culture – the veneration of tzaddikim (righteous people) through annual pilgrimages to their tombs. For some tzaddikim, thousands of people come from all over Morocco and abroad.
  • Visit remote, rural Jewish cemeteries and, in a few cases, remains of former synagogues.
  • Shabbat lunch with a Jewish family in Marrakech.
  • Visit an adobe synagogue in southern Morocco.
  • Meet leaders of the Jewish community in Casablanca and Marrakech.
  • Curator-led tour of the only Jewish museum in an Arab country.
  • Erev Shabbat services in Casablanca, Rabat, Fes, Agadir, Tangier, and Marrakech.

Oy. We have so much more up our sleeves.


Golf

When you think of golf destinations, Morocco is understandably not a place that usually makes the cut. However, it was a great passion of the late King Hassan II and he left a legacy of world-class courses all over the Kingdom.

  • The best course in Morocco is arguably the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam outside Rabat. The course consists of two palatial eighteen-hole courses and one challenging nine-hole course. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in the 1970s, this course is surrounded by eucalyptus, cypress, and palm trees. It is the home to two major golfing tournaments, and formerly the King Hassan II Golf Trophy, a regular event on the European PGA Tour.
  • The new home of the King’s Trophy is the Golf du Palais Royal d’Agadir. Along the Atlantic shoreline, the club is a private links course that can be found within the ramparts on the grounds of the royal palace.
  • The majority of Morocco’s other entertaining courses can be found near Marrakech. Royal Golf of Marrakech is the oldest, with players first teeing off in 1933. Amelkis Golf Club, Palmerie Golf Club, and the Samanah Country Club all have expert-designed courses by the likes of Jack Nicklaus, with breathtaking views of the snow-covered Atlas Mountains.

We have plenty more in our golf bags. Ask us.


Celebrations

  • After hours, anniversary dinner for two under the octagonal skylight of a recently restored 18th-century home in the ancient medina of Marrakech, with a musician playing a traditional oud.
  • Invite your closest friends to celebrate your birthday in the gardens of a spacious villa in the palm grove outside of Marrakech, complete with camels, acrobats, fire-eaters, musicians, belly-dancers, and 2,000 lanterns.
  • End that perfect girls week by privatizing one of Morocco’s most luxurious hammams and then heading to your own fashion show modeling traditional and contemporary Moroccan kaftans, complete with stylists, make-up and hair artists, and a professional fashion photographer.
  • Private party in a roped-off area of the Djemaa el Fnaa, the main square of Marrakech. Arrive by horse-drawn carriage.
  • Ask her – or him – to marry you at a dinner under the stars in the High Atlas.
  • End your multi-generational family trip under the desert stars with a bonfire, hundreds of carpets, belly-dancers, and demonstrations of Fantasia horsemen.
  • If you are looking for a wedding to outdo them all, exchange your vows in the remotest reaches of the Sahara Desert.
  • Spend a week in Marrakech with your closest friends in a luxurious riad (traditional 18th-century courtyard mansions in the medina) bought out for your exclusive use, complete with a private chef, staff, and rooftop terrace with a view of the Koutoubia Mosque.

Many – in fact, most – suggestions in other categories are great for celebrating a special occasion. Plus, we have plenty more up our sleeves. Ask us.


Bragging Rights: Signature Experiences

  • Meet the former designer of Yves St Laurent’s Majorelle Gardens in his villa. He is a leading collector of contemporary Moroccan art and is Morocco’s most famous perfume designer.
  • Dinner with a circle of highly-influential cultural figures involved in the arts in Marrakech. Your company will include designers and some of the forces behind the Marrakech Film Festival.
  • Private dinner in an 18th-century home in the medina with a French expat who purchased and restored this home – once in ruins – and has been spearheading a number of projects to safeguard Marrakech’s patrimony.
  • Fashion shoot in a riad with a negafa (Moroccan stylist) and a professional photographer, of you wearing traditional Moroccan kaftans.
  • Bird’s-eye view from a private helicopter as you are whisked over the High Atlas Mountains, lush desert oases, and earthen kasbahs to the remotest reaches of the Sahara Desert to a private encampment set up just for you.
  • Meet one of Marrakech’s most talented fashion (and most famous) designers. Together, you will design your own kaftan.
  • After hours, romantic dinner for two under the octagonal skylight of a recently restored 18th-century home in the ancient medina of Marrakech, with a musician playing a traditional oud.
  • Meet the Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals, in Marrakech, for an insider’s perspective on the legal system in Morocco. You will have access to the Court.
  • Meet with soccer star Tahar El Khalej (he has 49 caps with Morocco International soccer team and played in the USA ‘94 & France ‘98 FIFA World Cups).
  • Mint tea and sweets in a historic home in Fes. Your host is the consummate insider in the world of Moroccan arts, who helps source for designers all over Europe and North America.
  • Private entrée to one of Marrakech’s most exclusive private villas and its gardens.

We have plenty more up our sleeves. Ask us.


And, in case you were wondering, some of our favorites

We are always asked. We passed the question around to our staff in New York, our staff in Morocco, and some of our top guides and specialists. Here are the answers.

  • Meet one of Marrakech’s most talented fashion (and most famous) designers. Together visit the fabric souk before heading to her studio and together designing your own kaftan.
  • Private storytelling with young, English-speaking storytellers who will impart the humor and wisdom of this time-honored Moroccan tradition (this is an art form that was nearly lost until recent years).
  • Curated shopping in Marrakech for fashion (ladies or mens) and/or home design.
  • Private dinner in an 18th-century home in the medina with a French expat who purchased and restored this home – once in ruins – and has been spearheading a number of projects to safeguard Marrakech’s patrimony.
  • Bird’s-eye view from a private helicopter as you are whisked over the High Atlas Mountains, lush desert oases, and earthen kasbahs to the remotest reaches of the Sahara Desert to a private encampment set up just for you.
  • Meet the owner of our favorite photography gallery (in fact, our favorite gallery, period) in Morocco. She will introduce you to the current exhibit and the just-emerging art scene in Marrakech.
  • Visit the medina home of, and enjoy lunch or dinner with, the author of an internationally award-winning book on the colorful experience of restoring his home.
  • Spend a morning exploring the treasure trove of Art Deco and Modern architecture in Casablanca (one of the greatest collections of this period of architecture in the world) with the head of an NGO whose goal is to preserve this quickly-vanishing showcase.
  • Meet local leaders of an NGO focused on the many issues that women in Morocco face in a remote oasis town near Ouarzazate.