Conde Nast Traveler’s website recently flashed across my screen, along with their list of “the world’s most romantic getaways.” Knowing how fond the magazine is of these “best of” lists, I clicked on the link. http://www.cntraveller.com/recommended/hotels/romantic-getaways/la-mamounia-marrakech and memories of the “original” Mamounia, or “La Mam.,” as locals refer to it, came flooding back.
When I was growing up in Morocco, my parents would sometimes take my brother and me for a weekend at the Mamounia Hotel in Marrakech, considered at that time, as it is now, one of the most luxurious hotels in the world. The hotel was built in 1923, although much of the original landscaping dates back to the eighteenth century when Sultan Sidi Mohammed gave the property to his son as a wedding gift. To this day, I treasure the memory of our sojourns at the Mamounia.
An atmosphere of mellow gentility prevailed over the Mamounia at that time. Blue-blazered gentlemen and cashmered ladies bestowed kindly smiles upon my brother and me during their afternoon stroll. To keep us out of mischief, my mother had instructed us to try and catch one of the ubiquitous pigeons parading along the walkways. “You can catch a pigeon if you manage to place a pinch of salt on their tail,” she confided. We were happy to comply . . .
“Look who’s having breakfast at that table over there,” whispered my father on one occasion. Who else, but Noel Coward, reading the newspaper at a table next to the window. He, and many of his peers, regularly fled the dreary London winters for the cerulean skies of Marrakech. Mr. Coward’s signature graces the pages of the hotel’s Golden Guest Book next to Rockefeller’s, Rita Hayworth’s, Maurice Ravel’s, and a member or two of the Rothschild family. Winston Churchill, a Mamounia habitué during the latter part of his life, spent most of his time painting in the rose gardens of the legendary hotel. Sir Winston wintered annually in Marrakech, and members of his family, so I was told, can still avail themselves of the suite that bears his name anytime they visit . . .”
. . . as we say in French, suite au prochain numéro.
Presentations and book signings: May-June 2013
Thursday, May 16th, 2013. 6:30PM
Fresh Flavors of the Kasbah: Moroccan adventures in food and travel
Cardiff-by-the-Sea City Library
2081 Newcastle Ave., Cardiff, CA
Presentation and talk followed by a short demonstration. Food sampling.
Free and open to the public.
Saturday, May 18th, 4PM-6PM
A Taste of Morocco/Saveurs du Maroc
Alliance Française de San Diego
6640 Lusk Blvd, suite 104
San Diego, CA 92121
(858) 550 0144
Presentation in French and in English.
Short food demonstration and book signing.
Free to members. $5 non-members.
Tuesday, June 4th, 12:00PM-2PM
A Taste of the Kasbah/Saveurs de la Kasbah
Alliance Française de Los Angeles
10390 Santa Monica Blvd. Suite 120
Los Angeles, CA 90025
For reservations, please call (310) 652-0306
Presentation in French and in English, short Lunch, short cooking demonstration, and book signing. Free to members, $20 to non-members.
Register online at http://www.afdela.org/CurrentEvents