An Event Planner’s Notes from Marrakech
This is a guest post by Carl George. He is an event producer, designer and consultant based out of New York, Los Angeles and Morocco. His clients include Estee Lauder, Prescriptives, Mercedes-Benz, Vogue, Vanity Fair, the Museum of Modern Art, The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Sony, Disney, Warner Brothers, Courvoisier, Guess?, Valentino Rome, Lexus, and numerous others. He was the Director of Special Events and Entertainment at Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles – home of the Kodak Theatre (Academy Awards, American Idol, ESPY Awards, Daytime Emmy Awards).
When I close my eyes and think of Marrakech I see a bustling city with wide, elegant boulevards and lush parks, lavender hued mountains in the near distance, warm, embracing people, an ancient medina and souk, and chic cafes everywhere.
I see muted palettes of cream, rose, pale green, chalk blue, yellow, white and terracotta. A wide blue sky mottled with clouds and sunlight that is so intense it sucks the shadows away like a vampire. Women dressed in everything from jeans and t-shirts to Yves St. Laurent and Chanel to full on, jet black burqas, which in its own improbable way, is visually chic.
Tourists come from every continent to be baffled and amazed by the sights and smells of the mysterious, intriguing and seductive souk. And everything is old, so old – decrepit and wise like an ancient beauty who forebears the strains of time with commendable elegance.
In Marrakech, young men race through the medina on scooters, devil may care, as if they own the world, and this one, they do. How many times did I get lost in the souk, try as I might to post visual markers: a shop front piled with jewel-toned rugs, a colorful striped awning, the craggy face of a vendor.
But it was hopeless. The medina is a shape shifter, a trickster with a wicked sense of humor. Ibrahim, the all knowing concierge at La Maison Arabe told me one hot afternoon as we ambled through the labyrinth, “You will never know the medina, never! I’ve lived all my life in the medina and still, I am sometimes lost.”
This is an event planners paradise!
Marrakech has been rated #6 on Trip Advisor 2012 Travelers’ Choice Best Destinations and there’s a reason for that. There are a million and one things to do here and an incredibly sophisticated hospitality industry to help you realize anything you can imagine. As of this writing there are more than 500 hotels in the city of Marrakech – even more when the small private riads are taken into account. For more than a decade, the entire country has been focused on developing the tourist industry – and they are serious about it.
Railway stations throughout the country have been entirely rebuilt. The trains are comfortable, inexpensive and mostly run on time. There are plans to refurbish Royal Air Maroc and add direct flights from New York to Marrakech. The Jamaa el-Fna square in the center of the city is one of the largest public plazas in the Arab world and the heartbeat of the famous medina and souk.