Discover Marrakech with Melanie Royals
March 16 – 26, 2018
Come with me to discover the magical city that captured my heart and continuously inspires my soul – Marrakech!
My goal with my Discover Marrakech Retreat is to provide a deeper, more meaningful encounter with the city, the culture, and the community. I try to provide EXPERIENCES for creative souls to expand their appreciation for this rich culture, explore new creative outlets, and take home treasured memories.
A trip to Marrakech is always magical, but joining a group of like-minded people for a retreat experience has SO many added benefits:
– Thoughtfully designed itinerary-all the planning is done for you
– Quality time spent with like-minded people
– Guided group tours and activities
– Shared local knowledge to make you comfortable on your own
– Creative classes and artistic discovery
– Opportunities for community interaction and service projects
I want to share my Moroccan home, Maison 28, and my love for my magical Marrakech with you in an exclusive inaugural retreat that I’ve filled up with special experiences and favorite places. I hope it touches and inspires you like it touches and inspires me… join me to discover Marrakech!
“It’s amazing, it’s pumping, it’s furious, it’s anxious, it’s happy and it’s far more real than anything you’ll ever experience in a Western city.”
-Robert Plant on Marrakech
Day 1- Friday
Marhaban! Welcome to Marrakech…
Enjoy private airport transfer to Maison 28 for you first taste of Atay (Moroccan mint tea). Following lunch at a local restaurant, we’ll take a walk through the nearby souk markets for an introduction and orientation to our neighborhood in the medina. Evening brings a beautiful sunset and a “welcome” cocktail party & Moroccan dinner at Maison 28.
Day 2 – Saturday
Historic Medina tour by day, belly dancing by night…
Wake up for your Maison 28 breakfast, followed by a guided tour of the Medina including the architectural wonder of the Ben Youseff Medrasa and the ornamental beauty, harem, and gardens of Palais Bahia. Have lunch in the famous Jemaa el fna square and get more comfortable walking in the maze of the artisanal souks. Enjoy dining in a gorgeous restaurant where you can shimmy with the belly dancers-if you’re bold!
Day 3 – Sunday
Treasure hunting and magic carpets…
After breakfast, head to the local flea market to bargain for brightly colored carpets and vintage treasures. Then, be inspired by the ingenuity and artistry of the Berber women who craft some of those carpets at the Musee Boucharouite. After an alfresco lunch we’ll use the inspiration of the day for some fun studio play. Dinner under the lemon trees at I Limoni.
Day 4 – Monday
Creative play, secret gardens and henna’d hands…
Morning studio play session following breakfast. After, a delicious rooftop lunch at the iconic El Fenn hotel we’ll stop to smell the roses and the rosemary in the beautiful gardens of Le Jardin Secret. Then enjoy evening wine or cocktails while you get artful henna designs applied to your hands. We’ll end the day with a special dinner of Tanjia – a local specialty available only in Marrakech.
Day 5 – Tuesday
Chic shopping and drowning in Majorelle Blue…
After breakfast, we’ll head to the “new city” Gueliz to browse the boutiques and work up an appetite for a wood-fired pizza lunch. Then a visit to the famously enchanting Jardin Majorelle, designed by French painter Jacques Majorelle (created the famous Majorelle Blue color) and was later restored by designer Yves Saint Laurent. For dinner we’ll be dining in a lovely former medina palace.
Day 6 – Wednesday
Camels on the beach and salt air in your hair…
Maison 28 Breakfast followed by a day trip to the seaside city of Essaouira. After a stop to see goats in the Argan trees we’ll see how the women’s cooperatives turn the nuts of those trees into Argan oil. Once in Essaouira, shop and sightsee before we end the day with a caravan camel ride/photo shoot and dinner on the beach.
Day 7 – Thursday
After studio play you’re free all day…
After breakfast and a studio paint & play session inspired by the blue boats and doors of Essaouira, you’re free to explore Marrakech more on your own today.
Day 8 – Friday
A decadent day of total indulgence…
Wake up to a Maison 28 Breakfast and then we head a little bit out of town into another world at the Beldi Country Club for some natural beauty and, naturally, some Moroccan beauty/spa treatments. Enjoy a famous Moroccan hamman/gommage treatment (steam bath & scrub) followed by a soothing 1-hour massage. Then, dress up for a dinner at a chic club with optional dancing into the night to follow!
Day 9 – Saturday
Time for exploration or relaxation…
More studio play time after a Maison 28 Breakfast. Then you are on you own to stay, play, or explore some more.
Day 10 – Sunday
Now you’re cooking, Moroccan style…
After breakfast, learn how to cook a Moroccan tagine at the Amal Center for Women-a non-profit dedicated to helping disadvantaged women through hospitality training. Pick garden herbs and veggies on site for a delicious lunch you will prepare-and eat-yourself! Your afternoon is free for more studio play or last minute shopping. We’ll end the day with a dinner party at Maison 28 to celebrate your stay and your own discovery of this amazing city!
Beslama…Goodbye, until we meet again…
Enjoy your last Maison 28 Breakfast before your private transport to the airport. Please do come back soon. There is always so much more to discover in Marrakech!
Payment and Terms
$2695 private queen room
$2295 shared twin room
(all Maison 28 rooms have ensuite private baths)
A non-refundable deposit of $695 is required to reserve your space.
The remaining balance will be due over 2 additional equal payments on November 15 and February 15, 2018. You will be emailed an invoice for each payment 2 weeks prior to the due date.
Your deposit and subsequent payments are a commitment and each payment becomes non-refundable at the time it is received.
IF you are forced to cancel before January 15 2018 and your reserved spot can be transferred to another person, we will refund any previous payments less the $695 deposit. No cancellations or transfers will be allowed after January 15, 2018.
*By registering for this trip with your deposit, you agree to the above Cancellation Policy and to purchase your own trip insurance.
• Airport transfers
• Private transportation throughout
• Guided tours & shopping
• Entrance to Museums, Gardens, and Historical Sites
• Moroccan Cooking Class
• Day trip to Essaouira with Beach Camel Ride
• Spa Day with Hammam/Massage
• Special celebrations
• Breakfast each day
• 8 delicious lunches
• 8 dinner experiences
• 4 guided creative studio sessions
• 1 time laundry service
• Maison 28 babouches (house slippers) to keep
• Planning assistance for your free time
• New friendships & cultural experiences
• SO many amazing memories
• Airfare (flight suggestions provided upon registration-Royal Air Maroc offers round trip flights to Marrakech from JFK and Washington Dulles on dates you’ll be flying)
• Travel Insurance (highly suggested)
• Lunches, dinners, tours taken during your “free” time
• All shopping and cost of shipping if applicable
• Alcohol outside of planned dinners
• Staff gratuities
“Marrakech was on my bucket list… Now returning to Marrakech is on my bucket list! Melanie Royals put together a “retreat experience” that exceeded my wildest expectations… thank you so much for sharing your love of Morocco with us.” ~ Patti Halstead
“This adventure was outstanding in every way! I feel privileged to have been able to step out of my ordinary life to travel and experience one of the most inspirational and fascinating places you could ever wish to see… I believe you change lives, as I will never be the quite same again!” ~ Rose Alexander
“I felt drawn to this adventure as soon as I learned about it, and I’m glad I trusted my instincts. It is a life-altering trip and I’m just starting to figure out what that means. So grateful to be part of this with an awesome group of like-minded souls.” ~ Karen Barnes
“Marrakech is a magical place that fed my appetite for adventure and creativity. A new home away from home!” ~ Ellie McIntosh
“I’ve been on two trips to Morocco with Melanie. Both were an amazing experience that will stay in my soul for a lifetime. Being immersed in the culture, meeting beautiful people, eating exotic food… I will always have the urge to return.” ~ Barb Skivington
“I wish that I was better with words. Looking back on this trip I feel… soulful, exotic, sensuous, enlightened, and peaceful, to say the least.” ~ Gwen Ware
“The trip to Morocco was akin to a ‘magical, mystery tour’… it became a rich life experience that moved and inspired us all beyond what we anticipated. The art and architecture was so exotic, rich and layered with character and timelessness.” ~ Heather Bruno Sears
Good To Know
Travelers from the US only are required to have a valid US Passport – but it must NOT be due to expire within 6 months of your return flight.
Your flight destination will be Marrakech Menara International Airport (RAK). Royal Air Maroc is the only airline that has direct flights from the US to Morocco, from both JFK and Washington Dulles.
You can also book flights traveling through major European airports, as there are many connecting flights to Marrakech through economy airlines such as Ryan Air, Easyjet, Iberia, etc. We’ve found that it is easier to find good connecting flights on the way to Marrakech than on the return, but you can take the opportunity to end your trip with a day or two stop in Spain, France, Portugal, England….
Immunizations are not required or necessary but check here for CDC recommendations.
Weather is predictably unpredictable so be sure to check on the estimated conditions the week before you travel. Even though Marrakech can be quite warm by day, it is usually quite cooler at night so pack light clothes that you can layer. We recommend cotton pants, long skirts, wraps or large scarves over tank and tee shirts, and a sweater or light jacket for chilly nights.
Your most important fashion asset: comfortable shoes for traversing the Medina on sightseeing and shopping adventures!
Morocco is a Muslim country and women generally dress more modestly than in the US or Europe. Maison 28 is located in a more conservative, residential area in the old Medina. Like elsewhere, dress codes are gradually becoming more lax and there is a lot of tolerance for tourists, but wearing clothing that covers your best “assets”, and that your grandmother would approve of, shows cultural respect, good taste, and common sense.
The currency here is the Moroccan Dirham, and the exchange rate usually hovers these days around 10 Dirhams/1 Dollar. You CANNOT exchange for Dirhams outside of Morocco, but there are several currency exchange booths in the airport when you exit Passport Control and also located all around the Medina. Larger stores and restaurants may take Euros, but it’s really best to have dirhams.
If you bring large bills ($100) to exchange be sure that they are newer bills with holograms. Otherwise they will slide them back to you with a shake of their head.
Another good option for padding your wallet with dirhams is to use the ATM machines which are located around the medina. The exchange rate is a little better, especially if your bank or credit card doesn’t add foreign transaction fees (some homework for you). Be sure to notify your bank of your foreign travel destination so they don’t flag you for fraud. I also recommend that you bring 2 or 3 cards-just in case you still get flagged (happens!) and find too many things you just can’t live without.
Maison 28 offers:
- Free Wifi access in all rooms and common areas
- Bedside Mineral Water
- Hair Dryers
- One-time complimentary laundry service for retreat weeks
Extra items you should pack:
- European Plug adapters
- Electricity Converter for hair appliances (cellphones and computers generally have built-in converters)
- Ear Plugs – especially if you’re a light sleeper. Maison 28 is in a quiet neighborhood but there is local “wildlife”, i.e. Medina cats and a neighborhood rooster who sometimes like to make themselves heard. Also, the first call to prayer from the surrounding Mosques occurs about an hour before dawn.