A gal would probably admit that a trip to North Korea is not top of her wish-list but Pyongyang for the centenary of The Great Leader, April 2012, would not necessarily be sniffed at.
I have just had breakfast here in Marrakesh – as one does – with a Dusseldorf-based travel agent, Michael Kumor, who has been invited to take some ‘special friends’ for a week-long luxury trip (if that is possible) for the 100th birth of Kim Il Sung. If anyone is interested, contact Michael direct, firstname.lastname@example.org
Breakfast Marrakesh-style is calm personified. The juice is divine, as are the strawberries. The backdrop includes broken classical-look columns, vintage 2007. These are part of the three-acre well-tended gardens of Es Saadi Gardens and Resort, owned by the Bouchet-Bouhial family.
Jean-Alexandre says his grandparents started the complex, with Casino de Marrakesh, iin 1952 (grandmother, all of 92, still runs it – she is on duty until 0330 most mornings). The added the adjacent Es Saadi Hotel in 1966 and, in 2007, the Es Saadi Palace, the other side of the casino.
Jean-Alexandre’s wife Caroline is into wellness (there is a big Institut Dior and the Technogym has pale turquoise leather seating). They are both into eco. There is an organic farm eleven kilometers away that produces oranges for that juice and the berries for that plateful.
PURE, the conference here in town for the travel industry, has about 800 participants in all, owners and managers of delightful little lodges and such stunning ultra-luxury venues as Villa Feltrinelli on Italy’s Lake Garda, and travel agents like Michael Kumor. Villa Feltrinelli’s GM Markus Odermatt says he notices his guests are getting younger. High-net-worth youngsters, he says, are bored with minimalism and they want quality. Interesting.
PURE is a typical conference, with lots of fixed meetings. It is also fun, with plenty of networking. The first night’s seated dinner in the desert (when the clay oven bread was the best part, and that is not only the girl’s assessment, others say it too) shows how appalling ‘fixed tour dinners’ can be.
It was a typical tour-group-evening-out. Take’em to the desert, sit’em at tables on rugs on the sand, feed’em the worst tasteless local food you can get away with (the wine was awful and there were no more supplies)…
Last night, by contrast, Sofitel Marrakesh hosted around its hotel pool and showed how luxury parties should be. There were masses of open bars, with really drinkable wine, and the food included sushi stands, cooked-to-order-kebabs and filled pita sandwiches, risotto made in front of you in hollowed-out parmesans, and there was a great band.