African Lifestyles .


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Muguette Goufrani:

Born in Casablanca, Morocco, Muguette prompted the decision to make our World Editions bilingual, extending our worldwide reach and influence Muguette has been featured on African television, radio and print media, both English and French. Her first assignment was the 1996 ATA Ecotourism Symposium in Marrakech, Morocco. This was followed by a National Geographic - American Airlines sponsored project in Haiti, plus ATA Congresses in Benin, Tanzania, Ghana, Ethiopia, Zanzibar, Guinea, Zambia, Morocco, South Africa, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Djibouti and Egypt (several locations more than once).. Travel Agents wishing to join her are invited to e-mail

Muguette's background as an airline agent, tour guide and travel agent has been the key to her media success, resulting in an ATA Travel Industry Founders Award in Cape Town, South Africa. Her career positions have included Royal Air Maroc, Cica Citroen Automobiles, UTA Airlines, Air Afrique, Matson Lines, Palm Springs Resorts, Club Med, Tahiti Tours, Messageries Maritimes (Shipping) and Noumea Tours. Upon graduating from College du Paris, she launched her career in Casablanca, Morocco, where the Goufrani family operated a tour company for generations.

by Muguette Goufrani

Homes of Character

These traditional homes of Morocco, which many referred to as riads, villas, dars, kasbahs or guest homes, range from the simplest structures to the most sumptuous, luxurious palaces. Legendary comparisons are made to the Garden of Eden, with its fruit- laden trees, or a treasure-filled hideaway from A Thousand and One Nights. Cascading waterfalls, inner fountains with roses petals and bird baths, interior and rooftop tented patios, refreshing sauna-like hammams - you will find all of this and much more. Many riads are showpieces of Moroccan architecture and culture, a constant challenge to innovative decorators attracted by the opportunity to renovate and improve, with amazing transformations from ugly ducklings to graceful swans. While the concept is the same, each riad is unique in its own way, as in the hands and eyes of the owner or designer.

Africa Travel Magazine's editorial team never tires of visiting a riad, whether it be in the heart of a médina, a desert oasis or a retreat high in the Atlas Mountains. In our first Morocco edition, Habeeb Salloum describes the experience this way, "We stopped to refresh ourselves at the Kasbah Hotel Restaurant Asmaa - a traditional kasbah-style building whose interior is beautified by fountains and tiles in traditional Moroccan fashion. Soon thereafter, we were driving in the barren High Atlas until we passed a spot 1,907 m (6,255 ft) above sea level - the highest point we were to reach during our journey. From this high pass, the road wound its way downward through an arid landscape until we reached the Ziz River - a thin line of greenery in an otherwise barren countryside. At places, the road wound its way high above the river, then suddenly it would descend to the water's edge where vegetables thrive under olive, palm and many other type of trees. The scene brought to mind the words of the poet-astronomer Omar Khayam, "Between the desert and the sown."

How it started
The idea for our World Edition supplement on Moroccan homes and lifestyle was born in 1996 during the first Africa Travel Association (ATA) Conference held in this fascinating country. The venue was Marrakech and the focus was on Cultural and Ecotourism. The stage was set in 2002, when myself, Editor Jerry Bird and broadcaster Ogo Sow toured the major cities from Fez to Rabat, Casablanca, Essaouira and Marrakech. One of the highlights was our visit to several of the boutique hotels, riads and luxury resorts, such as the Amanjena with its 32 Pavilions, six, two-storey maisons and the Al-Hamra Maison, with its pools and oasis of palms and olive trees in the foreground and the High Atlas Mountains as a backdrop. Our editor has these comments about Marrakech, "Where else are all the walls and buildings tinted in a rich pastel peach, the broad avenues and promenades lined with rows and rows of orange trees, with ripe fruit dangling from their branches like holiday ornaments?"

Riads of Mogador
We stayed an extra few weeks through New Years at Essauoira, formerly Mogador. Here we were treated to a visit of the superb facilities and park-like grounds at the elegant Dar Mimosas, situated a few miles south of the city. At the Médina, inside the walls of a centuries old Portuguese fortress, a variety of attractive riads offer fine food and accommodation.

I was introduced to Les Terrasses d'Essaouira, a luxurious riad which offers a scenic view of the bay.

One of our favorite stops while doing business or shopping is the Riad Al Médina. My brother Maurice Goufrani of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris often stays when he visits the Essaouira Cultural Complex, or attends the popular Ganaoua Festival, a three day banquet of music.

Our current stay in Essaouira has given the Homes and Lifestyles project a giant leap forward. In recent months, we have traveled the Atlantic Coast from Agadir in the South, via Safi, Al Jaddida and Casablanca to beyond Rabat. Other areas are in our sights as we develop the Africa Travel Library through our series of World Editions and supplements.

Living the Moroccan Lifestyle
We are actually living in a riad. When my mother retired over a decade ago, she had an architect friend design her a villa in the traditional Moroccan style and during the interim the place has taken shape. Now that we have arrived to stay it will become the African base for our magazine and growing library of magazines, books and media resources. At the moment we are developing the garden area, which will be a pleasant retreat, with additional shade trees, flowers, birds and fish pools. The roof terrace has an outstanding view of the new world class golf course, with construction well underway - confounding the skeptics who said it could not be done.

Facts About Morocco:

Courtesy of Habeeb Salloum. 1) Nationals of most countries do not need visas to enter Morocco- only valid passports.

2) If you know French, its is easy to get around in Morocco. Everyone speaks French, but many also know English.

3) Unit of currency in Morocco is the dirham which fluctuates at around 10 to 12 to a dollar. Exchange money at banks or hotels - rates are all the same with no commission.

4) When traveling in Morocco, trains are the most comfortable. Buses are inexpensive - CTM the best. Small autos, with unlimited mileage and fully insured, rent for about $50. a day, fully insured.

5) The mass of hustlers which once infested the tourist spots in Morocco have been greatly diminished by the strong arm of the law.

6) Tips are expected for every service - always carry small change.

7) Bargain for all tourist items - never shop with a guide - his commission is usually about 30%.

8) At night, avoid dark alleyways. Morocco is safer than many other countries, but muggers still stalk the lonely streets.

9) When in Erfoud, for a breath-taking taste of the desert, one should make a trip to Merzouga, an oasis near the Algerian border surrounded by sand dunes - some more than 50 m 164 ft) high. The oasis's lake is a favorite spot for migrating birds, especially in February and March, when the Dayet Srji flamingos appear. On the other hand, if traveling the desert is on one's mind, trips to the desert can be arranged by tour companies in Erfoud.

10) Two good places to stay in Erfoud: Hotel Salem - a 4 star abode - from $56. To $80. A room; Hotel Ziz, an excellent 3 star abode located in the heart of town - $34. a room.

Note: All prices quoted are in U.S. dollars.

This feature continues on the following page.


by Muguette Goufrani

While I was born in Morocco and began my career there with our family's tour company and Royal Air Maroc, before working my way around the world, my return as part of the Africa Travel Association, has been a true rediscovery. Marrakech was ATA's host city for a Cultural and Ecotourism Conference in 1996 and Fez had the same honors in 2002. As Morocco's third largest city and a bustling center of commerce, Marrakech is high on our list as an ideal convention site and place to visit. The metropolitan area comprises the Médina, a walled city built centuries ago as a fortification, surrounded by one of the most modern communities anywhere, with upscale shops, famous name hotels, leafy parks and treed boulevards.

Hidden Treasures
Within the Médina itself you will find several huge doors, which like the entrance to Ali Baba's cave, open up to reveal what North Africans call a 'riad.' During a stop in Marrakech enroute to Casablanca, we had the pleasure of staying at the Hotel Riad Shama, and visiting several others including the Hotel Riad Oasis. Both are operated by the same company and each has its unique attractions - magical Arabian architecture and decor, pools and oriental lounges, spacious bed rooms, cosy fireplaces and luxury bathrooms. Want to enjoy the fresh air of Southern Morocco and a bird's eye view of the exotic surroundings within the Médina? Each riad provides guests with access to a roof terrace or sundeck. How did we know about these two attractive riads? We spent some time learning about them from the general manager herself - during our weeks at ITB Berlin and the Salon International de Tourism in Paris. After checking in at the Hotel Riad Shama, we took a walk through the souk, a huge marketplace with products and services of every description - and plenty of bargains awaiting your pleasure. Close by is Djemaa el Fna, one of the busiest market squares in Africa, with snake charmers, acrobats, story-tellers, dancers, and musicians. By night, the square turns into an open-air restaurant where traditional Moroccan dishes, such as cous cous and tangine are on the menu.

What is a Riad?

A traditional Riad is a Moroccan home or palace, which often includes an interior garden. The ancient Roman city of Volubilis, which we visited in 2002, during our conference in Fez, provides a reference for the beginnings of riad architecture. The design of these courtyard dwellings in the coastal regions of Morocco were an adaptation and modification of the Roman villa. When the Almoravids conquered Spain in the 11th century they sent Muslim, Christian and Jewish artisans from Spain to Morocco to work on monuments. These artisans brought with them the idea of arranging the rooms of the house around the central open-air courtyard that has become today's riads. The riads were inward focused which allowed for family privacy and protection from the weather in Morocco. This inward focus was expressed in the central location of most of the interior gardens and courtyards and the lack of large windows on the exterior clay or mud brick walls. Entrance to these houses is a major transitional experience and encourages reflection because all of the rooms open into the central atrium space. In the central garden of traditional riads there are often four orange or lemon trees and possibly a fountain. The walls of the riads are adorned with tadelakt plaster and zellige tiles. The style of these riads has changed over the years, but the basic form is still used in designs today. Many riads are now used as hotels or restaurants. Photos from the Riad Shama are on the above page (left) and those from the Riad Oasis are on above page (right). To find out more or to book rooms for yourself or group at either hotel, contact Muguette Goufrani by e-mail: