26 février 2007


"This is a wonderful place, and the hotel one of the best I have ever used."

David Druckman

Mr. Druckman of Chicago and Arizona, who travels widely, wrote about his visit to South Africa in FH 47 and to Gallipoli in FH 90. This year he and we persuaded "La Mamounia" to allow him to visit the Churchill Suite at the Mamounia Hotel. Written material courtesy Hotel La Mamounia. For photographs see the actual issue of Finest Hour.

"It is the most lovely spot in the whole world." So said Winston S. Churchill to Franklin D. Roosevelt about Marrakech in 1943. The Prime Minister, who had persuaded the President to visit his favorite haunt after the Casablanca Conference, made this remark while they gazed at one of the beautiful sunsets for which the city is famous, the setting sun tinting the distant, snow-capped peaks of the Atlas Mountains velvet red. Such scenes often inspired Churchill to take up his paintbrush in Marrakech, though during World War II he found time to paint only one picture: it was done on this occasion. Invariably on his visits, Churchill chose to stay at the luxurious Hotel La Mamounia not least because the views from the roof were incomparably "paintaceous."

La Mamounia takes its name from the surrounding gardens, which were once called the "Arset El Mamoun." Two centuries old, these gardens, usually referred to as a park, have a history of their own. The Park once belonged to the Prince Moulay Mamoun, the fourth son of Sultan Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah, who reigned in the 18th century. It was customary for the Sultan to offer his sons, as a wedding gift, a house and garden located outside the Kasbah. For his marriage present, Moulay Mamoun received the park, which has since always carried his name. It is said that the prince used to hold extraordinary garden parties here. The magnificent garden remaining from such royal revelry adds to the pleasure of present day guests, as much by its size (nearly 20 acres) as by its unusual flora.

Designed in 1922 by architects Prost and Marchisio, the hotel La Mamounia managed to combine the Moroccan architectural tradition with the very latest in Art Deco design and decoration. The hotel originally had 100 rooms, but was expanded in 1946, 1950 and 1953, and now includes nearly 200 rooms.

In 1986, a vast renovation programme took place to create the look of today's La Mamounia. A larger and wider main entrance was constructed, incorporating the traditional elements of Moroccan architecture: columns, arches and painted wooden doors. The porch, dating from the 1920s, has remained intact and opens into the 1920s style "Salon of Honor." The salon has also remained the same with the exception of a large chimney, added during renovation, which accentuates the room's ceremonial character. Today this entrance is used when welcoming guests of honour.

Throughout the year, from the four corners of the globe, visitors come and go at hotel La Mamounia. Before the Second World War, guests from Europe and America even brought their own furniture, so that they could enjoy the exotic surroundings while still feeling "at home" in their rooms. Longtime employees at the hotel still tell stories about the stately dinners for which the men dressed in top hats and tails and the women, bedecked with exquisite jewels, wore long evening gowns.

Of the many famous people who have visited La Mamounia, Churchill is the most renowned. He would wander from balcony to balcony, following the sun on its daily route in order to render the colour of his painting as real as possible. Several of his paintings of La Mamounia's gardens hang in England. General Charles de Gaulle also stayed in the hotel after the Casablanca Conference. The director of the hotel was obliged to have a special bed made to accommodate the General's considerable height.

Over the years the reputation of Marrakech and La Mamounia have attracted the attention of both French and American film makers. Eric Von Stroheim filmed "Alerte au Sud" in 1953. "Morocco" with Marlene Dietrich was filmed there, as was Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much." In 1955 Charlie Chaplin was warmly welcomed to the hotel. Those who followed from the film world include Omar Sharif, Charles Aznavour, Joan Collins, Elliot Gould, Ted Danson, Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Curtis, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Christopher Lee, Charlton Heston and Sylvester Stalone.

With the film stars came the fashion world, some designers, such as Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Balmain, buying homes in Marrakech. In 1968, with the explosion of rock groups, Marrakech welcomed the Rolling Stones, while the group Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young wrote the hit song "Marrakech Express." Other stars from the world of music have included Johnny Halliday, Elton John, Vanessa Paradis and Sacha Distel. Royals and Statesmen who have discovered the hotel, some to return on a regular basis, include Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Princess Alexandra and Angus Olgivy, Princess Caroline of Monaco, Prince Naruhito of Japan, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tuttu.

Todays guests are welcome to leaf through the Livre d'Or (visitor's book), kept in the General Manager's office. It contains comments from many of the hotel's celebrated guests. A love of La Mamounia and Marrakech seems to unite them all.


Winston S. Churchill to Clementine Churchill
(Spencer-Churchill Papers; reprinted by kind permission)

30 December 1935 Hotel Mamounia

My darling Clemmie,

At last the sun! I thought we should never overtake it. I think we travelled from England with a blizzard. You saw what happened when we landed at Majorca. It was just the same at Tangier, so we came on here. And no sooner had I opened my tin boxes than a perfect deluge- the first for three months - descended around the hotel. However it was only a shower and we have had two perfect days. All say that the prospects are bright.

This is a wonderful place, and the hotel one of the best I have ever used. I have an excellent bedroom and bathroom, with a large balcony twelve feet deep, looking out on a truly remarkable panorama over the tops of orange trees and olives, and the houses and ramparts of the native Marrakech, and like a great wall to the westward the snowclad range of the Atlas mountains- some of them are nearly fourteen thousand feet high. The light at dawn and sunset upon the snows, even at sixty miles distance, is as good as any snowscape I have ever seen. It is five hours to the ridge of the Atlas and they say you then look down over an immense area, first a great tropical valley, then another range of mountains, and beyond all the Sahara desert.

Rothermere came on here with his party and we were warmly welcomed by L-G, who has been here for three weeks in perfect weather, and proposes to stay till February. Mrs L-G and Megan1 arrive on the 8th. He is busy writing his book and is very splendid and patriarchical. What a fool Baldwin is, with his terrible situation on his hands, not to gather his resources & experience to the public service.

I am painting from the balcony, because although the native city is full of attractive spots, the crowds, the smells and the general discomfort for painting have repelled me.

You would be staggered by what the French have done out is very pleasant to see what a vigorous civilised race can do in creating order and progress in these ancient deserts.

How I wish you were here. The air is cool and fresh for we are 1500 feet high, yet the sun is warm and the light brilliant. It is much the best place I have struck so far. But the whole country is full of interest. The soil is black or red and of great fertility, plenty of water, fine harbours, everywhere excellent hotels. We must see how things go on, how far you are amused with your winter sports; how the political situation in England leaves me. But do not altogether exclude the idea of taking the boat at Marseilles. There are ten thousand ton steamers every week which in forty hours will take you to Casablanca, from which three and a half hours in a motor car brings you here. A etudier!

We get excellent French newspapers and so are able to follow the French side of the political drama. There is no doubt we are in it up to our necks. Owing to this vigorous manifestation from the depths of British public opinion, the French have come a long way with us against Mussolini and they will expect a similar service when the far greater peril of Hitler becomes active. We are getting into the most terrible position involved definitely by honour & by contract in almost any quarrel that can break out in Europe, our defences neglected, our Government less capable a machine for conducting affairs than I have ever seen. The Baldwin-MacDonald regime has hit this country very hard indeed, and may well be the end of its glories.

Now the one thing that matters seems to be to try and find seats for those two ragamuffin MacDonalds! 2 Luckily I have plenty of things to do to keep me from chewing the cud too much.

New Year's Eve. My beloved I have just heard yr voice on the long distance. It was a vy Miaou cat & I cd not hear much, but it was sweet to get in touch across all those distances. All my wishes for yr happiness in the coming year. Rothermere offered me 2 bets. First £2,000 if I went teetotal in 1936. I refused as I think life wd not be worth living, but 2,000 free of tax is nearly 3,500 & then the saving of liquor 500 = 4,000. It was a fine offer. I have however accepted his second bet of £600 not to drink any brandy or undiluted spirits 1936. So tonight is my last sip of brandy. It was kind of the old boy to take so much interest in Randolph's health & my own. I think you will be pleased.

My beloved pussy cat, I will write you again vy soon. I have been idle today. No Marl, only a little daub & a little bezique. Randolph is of course wanting to fight Malcolm M.3 but I hope he won't be able to‹because it would put a spoke in my wheel & do nothing good for him. I do not think he would really when it came to the point.

Tender love my darling one

From your ever loving husband

Posté par marrakechpeople à 21:23 - Commentaires [1] - Permalien [#]

Roosevelt and Churchill in Marrakech, Morocco, 1943


Posté par marrakechpeople à 21:21 - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]

Pablo CHESTER at Marrakech


Posté par marrakechpeople à 17:11 - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]


PARIS, FEBRUARY 23 - The mayors of Marseille, Haifa and Marrakech signed in Marseille a trilateral cooperation agreement in support of the tourist sector. Under the agreement, several young people from Haifa and Marrakech - cities twinned with Marseille - will go to study tourist development and quality of services in the French city. "This is a pact of generosity and brotherhood," Jean-Claude Gaudin, senator and mayor of Marseille, said. Marrakech mayor Omar El Jazouli also supports the agreement defining it "a humane, friendly and cultural cooperation." Haifa mayor Yona Yahav said "the triangle of cities will surely lead to the improvement of all".

Posté par marrakechpeople à 16:54 - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]

In Morocco, a luxury hotel owned by a Brazilian

Born in the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco, former diplomat Augusto Rodrigues is a partner in Sublime Ailleurs, a luxury hotel in Marrakech. The enterprise was built five years ago in a palm field with golf courses nearby. At the hotel, employees also speak Portuguese.

Isaura Daniel*

São Paulo - Looking out the window of the Sublime Ailleurs Hotel, the landscape is typically Moroccan. The earthy tones of the desert floor mix with the blue sky and green palm trees surrounding the building. The Hotel is located in Marrakech, in the middle of a palm field protected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), approximately fifteen minutes away from downtown Marrakech. Inside the hotel, one of the languages spoken contrasts with the French and Arabic heard in the country's streets - Portuguese. The Sublime Ailleurs Hotel is owned by Augusto Rodrigues, a Brazilian from the northeastern state of Pernambuco, and also by the Evidência group, from Portugal.

"All of our employees attend Portuguese classes," Augusto Rodrigues says. Therefore, from reception to room service, guests can be served in the language spoken in Brazil. The hotel also receives guests in French and English. According to Rodrigues, a former diplomat, 10% of guests are Brazilian. Having a person from Pernambuco running the hotel - Rodrigues is in charge of the place - makes it easier to cater to the tastes of Brazilian guests. "We even make caipirinhas (a typical Brazilian drink made of lemon and cane spirit)," he claims. According to Rodrigues, the hotel governess knows how to cook a feijoada (traditional Brazilian dish of boiled beans and pork). It is also possible to hire Portuguese-speaking tourist guides.

Rodrigues says that the number of Brazilians visiting Morocco is increasing. He believes, though, that tourist inflow could be much higher if there was a direct flight between Casablanca and Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo. In the Sublime Ailleurs Hotel, for instance, the vast majority of guests is from Europe, especially England, France, Switzerland and Belgium. Since the hotel is a luxury one - it ranks among the world's top 150 -, its customers include international show business celebrities. From Brazil, according to Rodrigues, the hotel has received businesswomen Yara Baumgart and Teresa Collor.

The Sublime Ailleurs Hotel was built five years ago, and Rodrigues became a partner four years ago. In fact, Morocco was already part of Rodrigues' history. He was the Brazilian consul in Rabat for approximately ten years, and has been visiting the Arab country for thirty years now. "I have always spent my holidays in Marrakech," he says. "The way people relate to time is what appeals to me the most in Morocco. Here, one has time to give of oneself, to be, to talk to others, time for oneself," he explains. The openness and generosity of the Moroccan people also attracted the Brazilian to the Arab country. "Not to mention their culture, which is extraordinary," Rodrigues claims.

The hotel

Sublime Ailleurs is a five-star hotel. It has eight villas, each with its own luxury suites and a pool. One of the main features of the enterprise is the calm, since it is located far from the agitation of downtown Marrakech. The hotel also features a space called Riyadh, comprised of a Moroccan-style house with bedrooms and divisions built around a central patio. The patio leads to a pool with a waterfall, usually strewn with rose petals and surrounded by lounge chairs. The cooking is Moroccan and Mediterranean. The hotel also features a spa, and has three large golf courses nearby. Daily rates start at 191 euros per guest.

Sublime Ailleurs
Telephone: (+212 24) 32 9644/46

Posté par marrakechpeople à 16:54 - Commentaires [0] - Permalien [#]