What Makes an Epic Place?
Penny Graves-McColl has been an integral founding member of the Epic team from right back in the early days when Epic started up in Morocco, as such she has a very clear view on what makes an ‘Epic’ stay for our guests and what kinds of properties we are best aligned with. With so much experience she can deftly find the perfect property for the mood, configuration, and budget of different groups. However, there are some clear favourites that come through consistently. We asked Penny and her sister Debbie who joined the sales team more recently which properties are consistent winners and why?
Douar Samra – Imlil
Douar Samra is lit by candles at night and has real fireplaces in the bedrooms, does that calm your senses? If it does, then this is the perfect place for you to come and unwind. The cosy, hand-built Berber lodge is nestled in a small village set high in the Atlas Mountains, the views are sublime and I promise you, you will never tire of them.
Your bags are brought down from the road by their own donkey and that’s where you leave the hustle & bustle of life behind you. I have ‘escaped’ here on numerous occasions, and just now I would really appreciate some me time, lying in a swinging hammock under in a secluded corner of the beautiful terraced gardens, sipping on Mint Tea, reading a book, or just listening to the sounds of the village, glancing up to soak in more of the views…looking forward to a superb home-cooked Tagine, served by the same local villagers who helped build the lodge and still work there to this day. You will feel like you are coming home, even if it is your first visit.
Villa des Orangers – Marrakech
If you looked up the word oasis in the dictionary, I think you could easily find an entry for Villa des Orangers as that is exactly what it is. On arrival, stepping out of the chaos of the Marrakech streets, you feel like you have happened across a secret Palace. Water fountains echo soothing sounds of burbling water around the beautiful central courtyard with light reflecting from the large mirror-like pool. Within 10 minutes of arriving, I was sat sipping a cool glass of Gris (wonderful Moroccan Wine) having lunch served by the excellent staff. I have stayed here many times and never found the careful & attentive service to be less than perfect. This is truly a unique place to stay in Marrakech.
The hotel remains at its heart a personally run Riad, Jean-Paul the manager is one of the best in his field, whilst benefiting from a superbly handy location and all the space and amenities you could need for a perfect stay. They have recently created new additions we can’t wait to see, a plush new cocktail bar and dining area and a private cinema!
Riad Karawan – Fes
‘Wow!’, this is the word that will come to mind when you first see your accommodation at Riad Karawan, the soaring proportions of each uniquely styled (and we mean styled) room will take your breath away.
I was lucky enough to stay in the Zephyr Suite, a double-height gem of a room with a balconied bathroom set high above the spacious ground floor, it feels both contemporary and classically Moroccan at the same time. However, for me, the most impressive thing is the super friendly and efficient service, nothing is too much trouble. I arrived at the Riad, in the early evening, after 5 days on the road with a load of the usual laundry you find yourself with at that stage in a trip. It was well after their usual hours, but with a huge smile the bags were whipped away and brought back only 2 hours later, all freshly laundered.
Simple things like this make the difference to your stay and I can honestly say it is indicative of the service levels you will enjoy whilst relaxing in this intriguing and impressive Riad.
Azalai Desert Camp – Erg Chegaga
Following a breath-taking journey into the heart of the Chegaga dunes which constantly change with the wind, the scene is set with a memorable welcome into the camp. As our 4×4 pulled up in a small oasis, we had the iconic welcome of our Nomadic hosts appearing, as if by magic, over the top of the coming across the dunes with huge smiles & cool refreshing hand towels!
The Camp exudes style and rustic glamour and could very easily be transported to a film set from Out of Africa! The special tranquility of the dunes allows your mind to escape and dream and is the perfect setting for a truly romantic experience. The warmth and charm of our Nomadic hosts ensured our stay will live long in our memories, and on a cold grey day has us longing to be transported back to this magical place.
The Azalai team has also created a superb quiet beach retreat along the soft sandy beach expanse of Oualidia complete with an outdoor jacuzzi and waterfall – we can’t wait to try that.