OUR INTERVIEWS: YOUSSEF MAMOUNI, NATIONL PRESIDENT OF LCD MOROCCO.
It’s with our great pleasure that we interviewed our dear friend and colleague Youssef Mamouni, President of Les Clefs d’Or Morocco and Chief Concierge at Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts in Marrakech. We took the opportunity to ask Youssef some very interesting questions…
Youssef, what would you propose to so special to your guests coming to Marrakech for the first time?
Why visiting Marrakech should absolutely be on your bucket list? Named the 9th best destination in the world in 2019 according to TripAdvisor’s community, Marrakesh is a must-see in your life! Called the red city because of the color of walls that enclose the old medina, Marrakesh offers a mix of history, traditions, landscapes, tasty food, nice weather and luxury life Discover now our TOP good reasons to visit this fabulous city!!
For the Medina (the old city)
In the heart of the old city of Marrakech, surrounded by red walls, there is the Medina. Labyrinth of more or less narrow streets, home to the famous souks, the Medina is an explosion of colors and scents. Nervous center of the city, it revolves around the famous Jemaa El Fna square and the Koutoubia, the largest mosque in the city. This is the perfect place to dive into the heart of the Moroccan culture by visiting:The Saadian Tombs,Bahia Palace Badii Palace and Medrassa Ben Youssef.
For the diversity of the surrounding nature
Marrakech is surrounded by deserts and mountains, making it a perfect starting point to discover very different landscapes.
- The Agafay Desert: located south of Marrakech, Agafay will dazzle you with its desert expanse as far as the eye can see, its particular light and its breathtaking view of the Atlas Mountains. It is moreover a great playground to ride a quador a buggy
- The Atlas Mountains: Marrakech is at the foot of the Atlas Moutains, which makes it a perfect starting point for many mountain sports! This mythical mountain range is home to many authentic villages where Berber culture is still well present. You can go hikingon one or more days, climb Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa (4 167m), swim at the foot of Ouzoud waterfalls, even mountain biking or canyoning!!
- The Jbilets desert: this stone desert offers a breathtaking lunar landscape, in which you can indulge in many activities: quad or buggy ride, camel ride, even hot air balloon!!!
- The Palmgrove: a few kilometers from the red city is a lush palm grove surrounded by desert, the perfect place for a mountain bike rideor a camel ride
- For its tasty cuisine
- When we think about Morocco, we obviously think of its rich and varied cuisine: tajine, couscous, tanjia, harira, pastilla, briouates, msemens, pastries or mint tea… The only evocation of these flavors gives us the mouth watering…
- This fragrant cuisine is truly part of the country’s heritage and that’s why as specialists in Morocco, we like to make you discover it.
- Indeed, you can taste our famous mint tea accompanied by msemens (Moroccan pancakes) during our camel rides, or enjoy a delicious tajine at Hicham if you opt for the combo day quad + camel. Real moments of conviviality combining gastronomy and
exchanges with the local people
- Morocco is also the country of street food. Marrakesh has even been ranked among the world’s top destinations for street food by CNN! Wait a few days to try the experiment, the time your body gets used to the change of environment. Among the specialties offered in the stalls of the Jemaa El Fna square, you can enjoy kefta or merguez kebabs, a spicy escargot broth, the famous mechoui, or a sheep’s head!
- For its hot and dry climate, and its sun all year round
- In Marrakech, the climate is subtropical semi-desert, with mild winters and very hot summers. The city enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year, and rainfall is scarce. The city can be visited all year round
- Winter is mild, but in the evening temperatures can drop below 5°C. This is the best time to admire the snowy peaks of the Atlas in the background, an unforgettable view!
- The summer is very hot indeed, but the hotels are equipped with air conditioning, you can enjoy the swimming pools and many activities are perfect for the summer: the buggy + camel combo, a mountain bike day, a buggy ride in Essaouira, the ascent of Toubkal Mount or M’Goun Mount, or see the sunrise from a hot air balloon. In short, there is always something to do in Marrakech, even with the heat
- The best moments to visit Marrakech are spring and fall, as it is still warm without being stuffy, and rainfall is low.
- Marrakech Gardens and Museums:
Majorelle garden: The Jardin Majorelle is one of the most visited sites in Morocco. It took French painter Jacques Majorelle forty years of passion and dedication to create this enchanting garden in the heart of the “Ochre City”.
Le Jardin secret: Le Jardin Secret origins of the complex date back to the Saadian Dynasty, more than four hundred years ago. It has been the home of some of Morocco and Marrakech’s most important political figures. Le Jardin Secret is a part of the great tradition of stately Arab-Andalusian and Moroccan palaces, which are outstanding examples of Islamic art and architecture.
They were established in the 12th century (circa 1157) by the Almohad Caliphate ruler Abd al-Mu’min. Along with the Agdal Gardens and the historic walled city of Marrakesh, the gardens have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. The gardens are laid out around a central water basin and reservoir, next to which is a pleasure pavilion dating in its current form from the 19th century. The reservoir and its pavilion, often framed in pictures against the background of the High Atlas Mountains to the south, are considered one of the iconic views and symbols of Marrakesh.
Anima Garden: André Heller’s ANIMA is a magical place of surprising beaty that you wouldn’t expect in the loud and crowded area of greater Marrakech. It’s not only a garden: it’s an impressive botanical staging
Dar El Bacha: Dar el Bacha Confluences Museum in Marrakech Palace Pacha Glaoui, located in the medina of Marrakech, is one of the most beautiful palaces of the red city. Also called “the governor’s palace”, or Dar el Glaoui, it was built at the beginning of the 20th century.
Dar Si Said Museum: The Dar Si Said Museum is mainly devoted to woodwork, a subject that is an integral part of Islamic culture. This museum, near the Bahia Palace, occupies the outbuildings of an imposing residence dating back over a century.
La Maison de la photographie: is located in an old fondouk rehabilitated in cultural space. It brings together a collection of old photographs taken in Morocco between 1870 and 1950.
The Yves Saint Laurent Museum: Centerpiece of the museum, this 400 m² space revolves around several themes of the couturier’s work. Audiovisual installations, explanatory cartels, parade accessories, photos and nearly 50 emblematic pieces of the designer are to discover including The iconic Mondrian dress and the famous Saharan. A rotation is planned to constantly renew the exposure.
Marrakech Museum: The palace dates from the end of the nineteenth century, and a great example of classical Andalusian architecture.
For its luxurious services
Marrakech is also known as the city of luxury, thanks to its famous palaces, 5-star restaurants, luxury spas and hammams and charming riads (traditional houses) in the medina. Amongst others, there is the Mamounia and its enchanting gardens, the luxurious Royal Mansour hammam and the refined cuisine of Namaskar Palace.
On the Dunes & Desert side, we also offer luxury experiences, by their exclusive and atypical side. Among others:
- A night in the desert after a quad day, in an unusual luxury desert camp located in an exceptional environment.
- A Royal Balloon Flight, with breakfast catered and champagne in the basket, while you can admire the red city and the Atlas Mountains from the sky.
- A private trek “Real Morocco”, in places forgotten by tourists, with a special lunch you will remember for a long time
- The shopping and souvenirs
Traditional Moroccan handicrafts are truly beautiful, and definitely worth getting as souvenirs to remember your Morocco trip. From the delicately painted ceramics, to the jeweled gowns and shoes, to the hand-woven rugs from the mountains, you can find some unique and stunning goods in Morocco. Try to visit the Souks, which are the traditional Moroccan markets that sell lots of local stuff, and they are usually roofed to block out the sun. You can always attempt to bargain for better prices than what the locals originally tell you, as you are usually charged a “tourist price” to start with. But be respectful when bargaining and sometimes just accept the price if the piece is handmade and impressive. You can also buy some amazing natural presents in the organic health stores that you’ll inevitably see everywhere. Teas, herbs, spices, soaps, oils, dried flowers, and other random things fill these stores, and the staff can teach you all about the secret healing and health benefits that these products provide. Be sure to pick up some Moroccan Argan oil straight from the source, which does wonders for your skin and hair.
2) I remember that in 2018 the Pan European Congress was held in Marrakech. Do you think that an UICH International Congress may be organized in your country?
This year we will have the honor of organizing the board of directors meeting of the international association of Clefs d’Or Concierges between 11-14 May, 2022. Following the votes and unanimously, the members of the international office have chosen Marrakech to host the BOD meeting. Marrakech has been chosen once again to show the world, through our concierge friends, our contribution to tourism development and to promote a beautiful image of our country. In addition, we will seize this opportunity to reaffirm the place our country occupies at the international level and demonstrate our expertise in the hotel industry, it will be for us a unique and privileged opportunity to organize an international congress.
3) Can you tell us in a few words when the Moroccan section of LCD was born and if you think to increase the number of Members?
“Les Clefs d’Or Maroc” participated at the first international Congress as member affiliated to the French section, both sections hosted the 4th international Congress between Marrakech and Paris in 1955. We became an independent section in 1963.
We hosted the following international Congresses:
13th, 1964 in Tangier & Casablanca
40th, 1992 in Tangier & Marrakech
51st, 2004 in Tangier & Fes
We hosted the 4th European Congress in 2018.
“Les Clefs d’Or Maroc” founder is Mr. Anakar Méchari,
We are 64 members, after our AGM held in Zagora between 21-23, January 2022