Louis goes to Marrakech
Riad Siwan in Marrakech is like discovering a rare artefact. In fact in many ways this is exactly what it is. It is a culmination of 3 years of passionate dedication, hard work, a labour of love, by its owners. Resulting in an oasis of meticulous tranquillity where guests are enveloped in its cool, stylish interiors and unobtrusive yet charming, gracious service. The stunning interiors are a mix of using the finest local artisans, customising objects to be a fusion of visual and proportional aspects of each room. Additionally this Riad host some exclusive fascinating objects adorning this sanctuary from the owners “private” collection and that is one of the many aspects that makes this the jewel of Marrakech life.
Today I am delighted to introduce Louis Mariette as our new contributor “Diary of a milliner”. Born in Africa, Louis has travelled the world extensively and what better way to start his column than Northern Africa in a country that attracts the most discerning travellers who seek excitement, a rich diverse culture and a vibrant energy that could only be expected from Marrakech.
“What a delight to be invited by Lemontrend, such a refreshing, current site that features intriguing subjects with such diversity. I’ve been honoured to explore some of the most fascinating countries on the planet. I am a great believer everyone should travel and get to appreciate what an exciting world we live in, absorb, learn, enjoy, respect every culture and more importantly cherish the fragility of nature and help wherever possible to look after it”
My pride meeting the ‘Dunes of Dignity’!
You couldn’t ask for a more delightful encounter with the most fabulously charming couple that are our Dutch hosts, Cees van den Berg and Maryk Stroosnijder, who own the Riad. I was just dying to talk to them about their incredible journeys to far flung destinations. I recognized that they have the same addiction as me of buying glorious artifacts from every country they visit and what better place to showcase their collections than amidst their tasteful interior design that makes each work of art look like the craftsman had been inspired to make it to fit in that particular spot. They have beyond an incredible eye for detail. As we talk, Cees explains about each artist who designs these stunning pieces. I point to a mesmerizing hanging object made entirely out of thousands of leather straps covered with the most fascinating coloured embellishments and beads. He stretches the object and it opens out and he reveals it is in fact a bag that is used for a camel. This is a couple after my own heart, I love every single piece, without exception! But Cees and Maryk have a little surprise in store for me. Since I was last with them, they had purchased another Riad by the name of Riad Siwan and restored this giant premise into what I can only describe as their masterpiece.
He shows me a book of the whole construction process and I gasp as I see what it used to look like at phase one, a total ruin of dust and rubble. Cees turns to me and laughs; he says, ”You have to be a mad person to take on this kind of project”. We then both laugh as he tells me that he can tell you exactly how many donkey carts have to be organised and dispatched to remove the contents of the deconstruction mess. Like a Phoenix rising, this dynamic duo are not only the perfect hosts for running a welcoming Riad but their astonishing take on creating an environment that not only displays such a great sense of style but the balance of making it a truly comfortable vibe to relax in. It is like an art gallery of ambience.
As we are given the grand tour by this inspiring and truly the most caring, compassionate couple you could ever ask to meet, I bring up a subject I had discovered. Behind the façade as two Riad owners, are actually an incredible pair of philanthropies. They tell me of the organization that they created and tirelessly support through much of their time by generating awareness and funding for a very worthy true cause. EFA (Education For All) was started to predominantly support, help and provide education for girls from under privileged poor regions of Morocco, where getting access to education is sometimes very difficult and beyond their reach.
“Educate a boy and you educate the man; Educate a girl and you educate a family, a community, a nation.”
I got the pleasure to interview them and find out more about what this extraordinary couple have started and how they continue to promote this charity both nationally and internationally.
So for those of you with a sense of adventure, who are crazy, brave and enjoy a physical endurance challenge, then EFA’s charity fundraising cycle ride is one of the coolest, exciting memories that will be emblazoned on your mind for life. Not only will you see some of the most remarkable scenery being in the Atlas mountains, but you will travel through rural areas of this country, witnessing first-hand the real Morocco. At the end of each day of cycling when you are having a well-deserved rest and soaking your tired feet, you will appreciate the reward of inner fulfilment of helping this worthwhile charity.
Cees and Maryk have encountered and had to diplomatically deal with local customs when it can be frowned upon for a girl to go to get an education. They provide a safe sanctuary that is filled with like-minded individuals who are hungry to be given the opportunity of such a valuable and basic human right.