Tag Archives: hotel

Morocco Journal 4: From the Medina to the Palace

From North Africa, the land of coucous, tagine, lamb, prunes, dates, figs and apricots:  We moved from the cozy, neighborhood riad on a busy street in the Marrakech medina near the crush of the souq and Jemaa el-Fnaa square to an oasis about 15 minutes beyond the city center.

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The Mosaic Palais Aziza & Spa driver fetched and spirited us away in a new Rolls Royce to a neighborhood of gated palaces, mature date palms, lush gardens, climbing pink bougainvillea and aromatic jasmine.  We entered a refuge, a rose-colored enclave of repose and serenity.  Luxury and 5-star boutique hotel only begins to describe where I landed, thanks to Judith Reitman-Texier and skin care and lifestyle company La Bedouine.

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Marrakech is a desert sanctuary. Known as the Red City for her mandated salmon pink buildings, travelers come to experience her legendary romantic appeal, great craftsmanship, outstanding food, and focus on personal health.

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Spa life is an integral part of desert culture where both men and women of all economic levels take a weekly cleansing hammam.  Small guesthouses, luxury boutique hotels, and grand international hotels all offer spa treatment services. Here beauty is more than skin deep.  It is a meditation whose source comes from deep within for spiritual and emotional cleansing and purification.

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Mosaic Palais Aziz & Spa is a perfect spot for the frenzied.  There’s not much to do here except lounge on pristine white divans on a patio outside the room or at the pool and swim.  Take your time.  North Africa is slower paced, just like Mexico. Enjoy a spa treatment, take a turn in the fully equipped gym, and sleep at any hour of the day.  Reading a book seems to be the preferred entertainment for guests stretched out around the two pools.

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You can dine at two extraordinary restaurants where Daniele Tourco, director of food and beverage and chef de cuisine, ensures that guests have the best fresh-made Moroccan and Italian specialties.

Have you ever had scorpion fish?  Karim el Ghazzawi, President and CEO, recommended I try this last night.  Otherwise, I would never have ventured there with a name like that.  I know scorpions. I find them in my Oaxaca casita and I would never eat one!  I step on them.  But, the name belies the delicacy and Morocco is famed for her fresh fish and oysters.

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There is even delicious Halana brand merlot available at the hotel that is made in Morocco to sip at your leisure.

Arabian Nights architecture and decor, lemon, olive, date and pomegranate trees heavy with fruit surround me.  I’ve just emerged from a four-hands massage (imagine that).  I feel so fortunate to be here at this moment, far away from stress and the decisions at hand.

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I did venture out on my own on Day Two, stopping periodically to consult a map, with no difficulty.  Though Morocco is an Arabic and French-speaking country, I found myself able to get along in both Spanish and English, using Spanish as my primary language.  In tourist areas and hotels, most people speak enough English for basic communication.  

Now, for another glass of mint tea before dinner!  I’m six hours ahead of you.

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More Than 36 Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico — Where To Stay, Hotels, Hostels, B&B’s

Where to Stay in Oaxaca, Mexico: Hotels, Bed and Breakfast Lodging and Hostels. The list that I sent to Freda Moon, The New York Times travel writer who crafted the feature 36 Hours: Oaxaca, Mexico, included recommendations for where to sleep in Oaxaca City.  She was only able to include one, El Diablo y La Sandia.  So, I’m sharing with you what I sent to her and a few more that I recently discovered.

El Secreto de las Bugambilias, NEW, Reforma #522, Col. Centro, Oaxaca, (951) 514-9536; USA (866) 829-6778, 3 rooms, Single/Double, Dahlia Room, $70 single/$80 double; Begonia Room, King Bed, $80/90; Azalea Room, King Bed, $90/$100.  Extension of Las Bugambilias B&B one block away, owned by the Cabrera Arroyo Family.  Just opened in June 2011.

El Diablo  y La SandiaNEW Libres #  Maria Crespo, owner. $80 USD per night double, $75 per night single includes breakfast. Email: info@eldiabloylasandia.com

Clean, basic and convenient Hostal Paulina, Trujano #321 at the corner of Diaz Ordaz, 4 blocks from the Zocalo. Phone (951) 516-2005.  370 pesos per night including breakfast, shared baths. reservations@paulinahostel.com  www.paulinahostel.com/ing10/localizacion.html

Lovely, European-like, quiet neighborhood of Jalatlaco is just a few minutes walk from El Llano Parque and the ADO bus station. It is easy to imagine being on a back street in Florence, Italy.  For 200 pesos a night you can stay at Hostal del Barrio, Privado de la Noche Triste #5, delbarriohostal@gmail.com or (951) 515-2910.  Innkeepers Señora Oliva and daughter Señora Julieta offer a warm welcome to their quiet home. Each very spare, small bedroom has a private bath and hot water. It is clean and adequate with no frills. Go around the corner to Casa Arnel for a healthy breakfast a la carte or during the week or Saturday morning to Xiguela, the organic market/cafe.  It’s a 30-minute walk to the Zocalo.

In Teotitlan del Valle, our workshop groups stay at Las Granadas Bed & Breakfast and at Casa Elena.

Room Reservations in Oaxaca: Be Specific

Definitions matter.  A “twin” sleeping room in Oaxaca City has a different meaning than in Sydney, Australia, New York City or London.

You should have seen the time I had deciphering the room/bed situation when I organized a study abroad group for University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alumni in London last year.  A totally different vocabulary.

During a recent inquiry about booking a room at a nice bed and breakfast, here is the reply we got:

Single room (double bed) with a cost per night $ 900 pesos (2 people).

Double room (king size bed) with a cost per night $1,000 pesos (2 people)·

Twin room (2 double bed) with a cost per night $1,200 pesos (4 people)

We were mystified by the idea that 4 people would share a room with two double beds!

So here is my advice and help to decipher the vocabulary!  What matters is specifying the number of beds in a room, not the number of people.  So, twin refers to 2 beds, not the size of the bed.  You just need to calculate the number of rooms you need with 2 beds and the number of rooms you need with one bed.

Then, order the rooms specifying number of beds in each room and the number of people you want in each room with one person per bed.  Let them know that usually there is one bed per traveler unless a couple wants to share a large bed.

You just need to be clear.