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Best of Morocco CREDIT TK

Plus: Amsterdam, Indonesia, Austin, Mozambique and more.


on my mind

Melissa leading an Indagare Insider Trip to Morocco


he first time I traveled to Morocco was with my parents and siblings in 1989, for two weeks during spring break. My mother and stepfather had six kids between them, and the luggage trolley at JFK was worth a photograph, piled high with duffel bags as big as trunks. We started in Fez, visited the royal stables in Rabat, drove through the desert and the Atlas Mountains and ended at La Mamounia, in Marrakech, where the French women by the pool were all as glamorous as Catherine Deneuve. I have been fortunate to return many times since then, discovering the coastal town of Essaouira as well as the desert near Ouarzazate. Much has changed, including La Mamounia, which has undergone a total renovation. But I am still struck by the harmony of Islamic and Berber architecture and design, evident in the carpets, the madrassas, the hammams, the gardens and the riad courtyards. This ever-present geometry and serenity coexists with the thrilling chaos of the streets, the souk and the untamable landscapes of the country’s coast, desert and mountains. Order and disorder, civilization and nature, the scent of roses and orange trees but also the stench of the tannery—Morocco traffics in contrasts. Behind the dizzying contrasts, a gentle hand of hospitality steadies you from the moment


you arrive because generosity towards guests is ingrained in the culture. In fact, the history of religious tolerance here should be a lesson to others. The first Jewish settlement was established during Roman times, and in the 15th century, many Jews found safety in Morocco when they were chased out of Spain. The country’s predominantly Muslim population has long lived by the Koranic precept “To you be your religion, to me be mine.” Five times each day—at sunrise, midday, midafternoon, before sunset and two hours after—the muezzin’s call to prayer washes over cities and tiny villages alike. Whatever religion you practice or abstain from, the chant makes you pay attention—to the dawning or dying day, to the rose-colored Atlas Mountains on the horizon or a line of palms ringing an oasis, to the cool tiles under slippered feet or the fire keeping the desert chill away. I am reminded to be conscious of where I am, in a country unlike any other, one with a fascinating history layered with the imprint of different cultures. My own history with Morocco is layered with memories of past trips with family, with friends and with strangers. Sadly some destinations that I once loved have lost their distinctiveness as they race to globalize and add luxury stores and hotels that could be anywhere. That is not Morocco. Morocco is unique. It awakens your senses. That is why it charms such a variety of visitors and why I will always love returning.












16-17 F  irst Look The Pulitzer Amsterdam

18-21 T  ransformative Travel The Edge of Wilderness: Nihiwatu

 rban Dispatch U London’s Coziest Season  ust Back From J A Journey Through China  potlight S Bavarian Escape


26-28 T  he Long Weekend All Eyes on Austin

32-60 Destination  Report Morocco


 ooking Ahead L Next Stop: Where to Go Now

The World of Indagare About Indagare

Indagare comes from the Latin word that means to seek, scout, discover. Indagare Travel is a high-end travel company with robust online editorial content and a boutique in-house travel agency. We travel, we write, and we plan memorable journeys for our members. To learn about our travel community, visit or call 212-988-2611. Annual membership rates begin at $325.


At Indagare you can research ideas for a trip on our site and consult with a specialist on the phone or by email to create, refine or expand your itinerary. Our Bookings Team can help you with something as simple as a hotel room or as complex as creating a multistop itinerary. We also have special rates and amenities at hundreds of properties. Email bookings@ or call 212-988-2611.

Insider Trips Insider Trips are special journeys designed exclusively for Indagare members. With their insider access, mapped-out itineraries and exciting immersion in far-flung destinations, the trips offer members a rich and rewarding way to explore the world. Upcoming destinations include Iran, Rome and Chilean Patagonia. For more information, call 212-988-2611 or email

Indagare Plus Members who book through Indagare receive preferential rates and/or special amenities at the properties with the Indagare Plus symbol.


London’s Coziest Season

Snuggly finds at Fortnum Arcade



Winter is coming, but in London that doesn’t mean an end to al fresco dining. Indagare contributor Anna Hart celebrates her city’s loveliest winter food markets.

urban dispatch



othing stands between a Londoner and a good meal, not even a drop in temperature. In this city, chillier evenings are the time to seek out the best comfort food. Many diners refuse to be confined indoors, as crisp, wintry air can be the perfect accompaniment to a memorable meal. The capital’s street-food scene continues to grow, and this season offers a little more luxury and seriously stylish shelter. London’s winter markets are now spaces worth lingering in day and night. Borough Market (8 Southwark St.), just south of the Thames, is the grande dame of London’s foodie scene. Dating to the 13th century, it provides the perfect finish to a day at the nearby Tate Modern (Bankside) and Southbank Centre (Belvedere Rd.). Queuing at Monmouth Coffee, which is so resolutely British and no-nonsense that it doesn’t offer almond or soy milk is a staple of London life. There’s also a perennial line for gooey Swiss raclette sandwiches at Kappacasein Dairy. Some vendors close up shop at 6 PM, but enough fringe food trucks and covered eateries stay open long after dark to keep the area buzzing and the air fragrant with everything from sourdough pizza and smoked ribs to paella and mulled wine. The most decadent way to do Borough by night is to dine on slow-roasted pork belly or rosemary partridge at Roast, in a glass-fronted conservatoire atop the Floral Hall overlooking the market in all its Dickensian glory. Just a short stroll from Borough is Maltby Market (Ropewalk), one of the most charming stretches of Bermondsey. On weekends, the market is a mecca for those yearning to sample honey from urban beekeepers, local dairy goods and plentiful pastries—the Instagram trophy du jour is a custard donut from St John Bakery. Again, some vendors shut down at sunset, but Bermondsey is a freshly minted foodie hub, so

visitors can sustain themselves at the St John eatery (41 Maltby St.) or the wine bar and restaurant 40 Maltby St. A little farther south is one of the city’s newest artisan markets, Mercato Metropolitano (42 Newington Causeway), dedicated to Italian dishes and produce and open till 11 PM every night except Monday. Start with the famously oozy Focaccia di Recco, comprised of stracciatella cheese sandwiched between light, thin focaccia. Pop into the family-run Sicilian supermarket Prezzemolo & Vitale to sip a few choice Italian vintages, then savor black sesame gelato at Gelato Badiani, London’s ice-cream obsession of the moment. The market even contains an art movie house, Backyard Cinema, so you can really make a night of it. On a rainy weekday evening, Brixton Village (Electric Ave.), housed in an old covered arcade, rules supreme. Franco Manca serves arguably the best sourdough pizza in town alongside tumblers of organic wine to wash it down. Those in search of dumplings and Chinese street food flock to Mama Lan, which evolved from an obscure supper club to a full-on restaurant. The best choice for winter outings is Dinerama (19 Great Eastern St.), in Shoreditch, which is open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 5 PM until late. Try sticky ribs at Smokestak, the tacos at Breddo’s and hot wine served with an ironic après-ski vibe upstairs at Dick’s Magic T-Bar. Hipster faves StreetFeast ( and KERB ( operate a number of venues housing food carts around town. KERB, a truck collective that has been drawing hungry crowds to King’s Cross, Paddington, West India Quay and the Gherkin for four years, recently added KERB Camden Market to its portfolio. Hawaiian Poke is London’s latest healthy-cuisine sensation (so long, sushi), but the vendor


Clockwise from top left: Shopping at Mercato Metropolitano; holiday accessories at Fortnum Arcade; Southbank Centre winter market

with the longest line is still Bleecker St Burger. Order a cheeseburger with angry fries—topped with hot sauce and blue cheese—to see what all the fuss is about.

The elegant creation of designer Anoushka Hempel, the just-reopened Franklin ( is a romantic boutique hotel in South Kensington. Tucked away amidst a row of redbrick Victorian townhouses and with Italian velvet upholstery, mirrored furniture and a soothing grey color palette, it is the perfect cozy hideaway, particularly on chilly nights.



London Hotel News: The Franklin

urban dispatch

Favorite London Holiday Markets For Culture Lovers:

Southbank Centre Winter Carnival (November 25–December 24, 2016) A short riverside stroll from the Tate Modern, the Southbank’s carnival enlivens this already buzzy cultural quarter with its chalets and fairy lights. Visitors can get their fill of bratwurst, crèpes, roasted chestnuts and glühwein while perusing local crafts. Belvedere Road

For Unashamed Romantics:

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park (November 18, 2016–January 2, 2017) Now in its tenth year, this quaint food and craft market transforms Hyde Park into an atmospheric drinking and dining hub for Kensington families and local workers alike. A fun fair (complete with miniature London Eye) and an ice rink add to the Tivoli-like atmosphere. Hyde Park

For Design Lovers:


Fortnum’s Lodge at Somerset House (until January 8, 2017) Fortnum & Mason has decked the halls of Somerset House with beautifully packaged delicacies and gifts. Champagne, fondue, boozy hot chocolate and mulled cider are on offer in convivial surroundings, right next to an ice rink. Somerset House, Strand

Book this trip with a London specialist. Contact the Indagare Team: | 212-988-2611



A Journey Through China

From Hong Kong’s ever-rising skyline to the temples of Beijing, China dazzles visitors with its intense contrast of old and new. Indagare’s Blair West reports.


Clockwise from top: Temple House in Chengdu; a candy shop in Wangfujing; giant pandas at play; Temple House gallery


just back from...



efore visiting China, my expectations were blurry at best. I imaged thousand-year-old temples and skyscrapers, scorpions and street food, a Great Wall. In search of clarity, I sought the advice of everyone I knew. “What should I expect?” I asked, “Why is China great? Why is China different?’ I was determined to wrap my head around this immense country. To my dismay, it seemed that everyone had a different answer to my questions and a different story to tell. Some regaled me with tales of the country’s modernity, praising the people’s forward-thinking attitude, while others labeled it as one of the most traditional nations in the world. Some mentioned how clean it appeared, the city streets immaculate and polished; others warned that it was horribly polluted, the smog a (literal and figurative) dark cloud hanging over everything and everywhere. The more input I received, the more I was left scratching my head, frustrated by conflicting information. I touched down in Hong Kong and, after a sky-high breakfast of dumplings and barbecued pork buns, surveyed the otherworldly cityscape. Later, as I strolled through the Nan Lian garden—a botanical

marvel surrounded by seemingly endless high-rises—I started to realize that China is full of contradictions: a clash of contemporary and traditional, of old and new. A former fishing village turned international metropolis, Hong Kong pulses with modernity. From its ever-growing skyline to its buzzing dining and nightlife scene, the city serves as an introduction to China that is both accessible and comfortingly familiar to Westerners by virtue of the fact that most people speak English and the influences of former British rule are everywhere. But below the sleekly globalized surface is a city that is grounded in Buddhism and spirituality, whose people are fiercely proud of its unique heritage. In the Chi Lin Nunnery, I was strictly advised against using my cell phone. I tucked it away, afraid of appearing rude and insensitive as I filed past the statues of Buddha painted gold. Then, there in front of me was a monk dressed in traditional garb, distracted from my wide-eyed gaze by the iPhone he held at arm’s length as he took a selfie. Beijing, unlike Hong Kong, immediately presents itself as different. Gray, chaotic and sprawling, this city, where China’s history was writ-

ten, is ever-changing. Upon arrival, I realized I’d never fully appreciated the “shock” of culture shock—an exciting disorientation set in immediately. Everything felt foreign, from the endless Soviet-style buildings to the uniformed soldiers marching in formation through the streets. But beyond the onslaught of traffic and the smoggy skies, Beijing is a city with a long, important history that is etched into every part. In the words of my guide, “Shanghai is a painting. Beijing is a book.” I began to understand the true magnitude of the city during a visit to Tiananmen Square, where, in 1989, nearly one million protesters assembled (and hundreds were killed). The expansive square and surrounding buildings were overwhelming. My guide motioned to the government-controlled cameras as we walked and he explained China’s communist politics with a matter-of-fact disposition. Minutes before, he had been animated, telling of the exciting, entrepreneurial culture of the “new” Beijing. The interposition of history in this city of innovation and technical advances has a nearly dizzying effect on visitors. Here monstrous skyscrapers soar upward beside the last


remaining hutongs, ancient alleys left over from the country’s dynastic period. Such beautiful, intense contrasts, I discovered, were the real magic of China. This intersection of past and future was nowhere more obvious than in Chengdu, the most traditional of the three cities I visited. Located in the southwestern province of Sichuan, it is known for its Giant Panda Research Base and a spicy cuisine that makes heavy use of the fiery Sichuan pepper. Here, visitors can relax into the slower, more leisurely pace, spending afternoons in teahouses, touring temples and savoring local specialties at colorful outdoor markets.


Despite its sleepy traditionalism, Chengdu has become a foodie and design lover’s paradise of fine dining, luxury shopping and stunning modern architecture. The Temple House, the latest HOUSE property to open in China (after the Opposite House Beijing and Upper House Hong Kong), is a masterpiece of urban design housed in the restored 17th-century Daci Temple. The property combines shimmering steel façades with lush bamboo sculptures and contemporary art installations. The result is a glorious indoor/outdoor complex that is emblematic of the city’s progressive new identity. Still, Chengdu remains

deeply rooted in custom and community. One afternoon, I walked through the city’s central park and came across the Marriage Market, where local parents bring the résumés of their unwed adult children to exchange with other parents in hopes of making matches. It was hard to believe that just minutes earlier I’d been browsing an ultra-modern shopping complex. Later, I finished the day with a Sichuan feast complete with pork-blood soup. Travel makes us reevaluate our place in the world—as individuals and as humans. Being in China made me feel wonderfully insignificant. I was humbled discovering the country’s astounding history


From left: The lobby at Opposite House; the Great Wall; a meal at MI XUN Teahouse in Temple House

as I stood in the very places where so much of it occurred. My understanding of China is in no way complete, and it never will be—and when people ask me to explain the country, I’ll have as much trouble as those I interrogated before my visit. China is contradictory in exciting and unfamiliar ways. Its sights, smells and sounds are vibrant, its past and future inextricably linked. I remembered my guide’s metaphorical characterization of Beijing as a book, and I began to see all of China that way. Its cover—the country’s chaotic, smoggy sprawl—can be misleading. It does not charm immediately. The magic, instead, exists inside.

To discover it, travelers must get beyond the surface. But the effort is rewarded beyond even the highest expectations. In this fascinating story, it takes a bit of courage and stamina to get to the good part.

Stay in Style: The worldrenowned HOUSE properties (the-house-collective. com) in Hong Kong, Beijing and Chengdu provide guests with true havens in each city. From the Upper House, with its out-of-this-world views, to the Opposite House, home to stunning design and the Temple House’s, known for its imaginative architecture, the brand has perfected the art of service and world-class luxury.

Travel in Style: Most airlines have direct flights to Hong Kong (16 hours from New York) and connections to other Chinese cities. Cathay Airways offers top-notch business-class service from check-in to landing. Its business- and first-class lounges in Hong Kong make layovers luxurious. The latter boasts a miniature spa and dayrooms for naps; the former contains a noodle bar and teahouse.

Book this trip with a China specialist. Contact Indagare: | 212-988-2611



Clockwise from top: Schloss Elmau is surrounded by some of Bavaria’s most scenic countryside; one of the many pools on property; a guest suite in Elmau’s new Retreat wing.



Country Escape

Germany’s Bavaria is anchored by its cool cultural capital, Munich, and boasts a breathtaking countryside, best experienced at the exquisite Schloss Elmau resort. Indagare’s Simone Girner reports.



he drive to Schloss Elmau is straight out of a fairy tale. After winding through a nature reserve past rolling hills, silent forests and meadows dotted with sheep, you top a grassy knoll and descend to the resort, which sits like Sleeping Beauty’s castle in the valley below. A single white tower rises from the compound, an elegant echo of the snow-peaked Bavarian Alps looming in the distance. Unlike so many European castle hotels, which are trapped in another time, the historic property has been expertly transformed by the family that owns it into a contemporary showstopper with a strong focus on 21st-century pampering, wellness and culture. The estate comprises the original castle, the Schloss—housing most of the restaurants and the biggest spa, the Badehaus—plus the smaller, more intimate Retreat, which opened in 2015. The latter is located in a freestanding building a bit removed from the castle, with its own entrance, check-in, spa and pools. All the property’s public spaces are open to all guests, however, so although the Retreat feels more secluded and quiet, it’s not off-limits to those staying in the main castle. Elmau offers eight restaurants, five spas with twenty-two treatment rooms, five pools, three libraries, a yoga center, a large concert hall and a well-stocked bookstore. That may seem daunting, but the resort’s layout has been carefully considered, and public spaces are divided into cozy sitting corners, patios and lounge areas, allowing for intimacy and reflection. Most of the resort’s 162 guest accommodations are located in the castle, parts of which

were completely reconstructed after a fire in 2005. The ground floor, with its grand staircase, vaulted ceilings and colonnaded wings, exudes old-world glamour, but the guest rooms and suites are sleek, modern and uncluttered, decorated using natural materials, including light wood and smooth stone. Banish all thoughts of velvet or chintz; fabrics in the rooms are light, with occasional touches of warm color, like the attractive sienna red headboards and burnt-orange armchairs. Floor-to-ceiling windows, clad in translucent curtains, overlook the valley and the dramatic Wetterstein mountain range. The all-suite Retreat contains larger accommodations (47 in total), including glorious corner ones that afford nearly 360-degree panoramics from their balconies and terraces. When Elmau hosted the G7, in 2015, this is where the dignitaries were housed, so President Obama was one of the first to try these sumptuous new accommodations. The list of activities on- and off-property fills a small paperback. The quick takeaway is that clients, many of them repeat visitors, check in for three main reasons: culture, spa and family. Almost since its founding (by a Lutheran theologian who purchased the land in 1912), Elmau has invited musicians and artists to be inspired by the surrounding nature and share their talents with the patrons and other guests. Today, the tradition continues. A large concert hall in the main building hosts an ambitious cultural program throughout the year, free for hotel guests, that includes opera, chamber music, symphony and jazz performances, as well as readings and lectures.


Who Should Stay

Families: the kids’ program is excellent for all ages. Spa goers: wellness offering at Elmau are massive and one of the reasons the resort rates so highly among couples and girlfriend getaway trips. Active types: the setting in the Bavarian Alps is incredible, which makes for wonderful hiking and skiing.

Ideal Length of Stay 3-4 nights

Getting There

The property is a 90-minute drive southeast of Munich and a one-hour drive from Innsbruck. If you’re planning on staying mostly put, you don’t need a car, but if you’re interested in exploring the charming villages beyond, it helps to have a rental.

The property is dotted with sumptuous spas, ranging from the beautiful Turkish hammam in the castle cellar to the 32,000-square-foot Badehaus Spa, complete with striking rooftop infinity pool. The resort is also known as one of Europe’s most family-friendly. Kids’ club activities include skiing, golfing, hiking, climbing and kayaking (overseen by English-speaking staff ), as well as the Edutainment Workshops, on subjects related to science, literature, music, crafts and film. Little ones have their own nightly dining buffet and pool. Thanks to its size, incredible setting and plentiful offerings, Elmau is a resort where families, solo travelers and couples can all happily coexist. Read Indagare’s review.

Indagare Tip

Don’t miss the two-hour hike from Elmau to Mittenwald, a charming village. For excellent, albeit hearty German food, book ahead at the Post, in Krün, one of this region’s most acclaimed restaurants.


Book this trip with a Germany specialist. Contact the Indagare Team: | 212-988-2611


Elmau Basics


The Residenz


Spatenhaus an der Oper

Christmas Market

First Time Musts: Munich A 90-minute drive from Schloss Elmau, Munich reveals Bavaria’s urban charms to visitors seeking to experience the best of region’s various aspects. Where to Eat

Where to Shop

What to See & Do

Lunch Near Residenz: Spatenhaus an der Oper (Residenzstr. 12)

Dallmayr: Gourmet treats at this Munich classic (Dienerstr. 14)

Alter Peter: A 500-plus step tower with beautiful views of the city (Rindermarkt 1)

Near Pinakothek Museums: Garden (in Bayerischer Hof).

Loden Frey: Upscale traditional Bavarian fashion: lederhosen and dirndls (Maffeistr. 10)

Near Marienplatz: Weisses Brauhaus (Tal 7)

Manufactum: Kitchen and home décor (Dienerstr. 12)

Dinner Musts Big Night Out: Tantris (JohannFichte-Str. 7) or Geisels Werneckhof ( Werneckstr. 11)

Nymphenburg Shop: Exquisite porcelain (Odeonsplatz 1)

Classic: Franziskanerkeller (Residenzstr. 9) or Spatenhaus an der Oper (Residenzstr. 12) Local: Theresa (Theresienstr. 29) Hot Spot: Esszimmer in BMW Welt (Am Olympiapark 1)

Obacht: Gifts, design items and mementos (Ledererstr. 17) Viktualienmarkt: Munich’s most elebrated open-air market. Christmas markets: Many options but particularly lovely is the one by the Residenz, with stands offering handcrafted wares.

Englischer Garten: Beautiful park with a lake, meadows and Japanese teahouse Nymphenburg Palace: Sprawling Baroque castle estate. Pinakothek Museums: Three extraordinary art museums (Barer Str. 27–29) Residenz: Former home of the Bavarian royal family with a jewel-like Rococo theater (Residenzstrasse 1) Sammlung Goetz: Appointment-only contemporary art gallery (Oberföhringer Straße 103)


Amsterdam News: The Pulitzer With a prime location in the Nine Streets, an aesthetic that fuses old-world with modern Dutch whimsy and a blissful courtyard garden, the Pulitzer is an oasis in the heart of Amsterdam. Emma Pierce reports.


Clockwise: An Amsterdam scenic; the Antique Collector suite; the bar; a king room; and the lobby atrium at The Pulitzer


first look



fter a transformative renovation, the historic Pulitzer Amsterdam, which encompasses twentyfive 400-year-old canal houses, represents the best of Amsterdam past and present. Drawing on the city’s most alluring attributes—storied canals, unique architecture and rich mercantile history—the new hotel is one of many signs pointing to a second Amsterdam Golden Age. Located in the posh Nine Streets quarter, the Pulitzer was launched in the 1970s by Peter Pulitzer, grandson of Pulitzer Book Prize creator Joseph Pulitzer. The hotel in its current manifestation pays homage to the Pulitzer family in its library, a cozy hideaway filled with winners of its namesake prize. This thoughtful touch was courtesy of creative director Jacu Strauss, who spent years researching the history of the component canal houses—former homes of merchants and Dutch aristocrats—sourcing antique furnishings from around Europe and designing custom pieces. Giving careful consideration to the structural difficulties of combining so many formerly separate buildings, Strauss created a design that unifies them while acknowledging their individual characters through

devices like using different carpets and wall colors in each. The Pulitzer’s 225 rooms and suites share an elegant industrial style. Each accommodation, however, has a unique décor that reflects the history of the particular canal house in which it resides, mixing vintage and modern furnishings like Persian rugs, crystal chandeliers and pieces by such designers as Anouk Beerents and Piet Hein Eek. Pops of color are provided by soft pink curtains, yellow blankets and playfully patterned pillows. The whole is imbued with a distinctly Dutch character, evident in such touches as exposed wooden beams and a bike repair kit in each room. The Pulitzer suite boasts a massive bedroom with a freestanding marble tub, elegant velvet Sé chair and intricate moldings. The four Collector’s suites offer a taste of what it might have been like to own a canal-side home during the 17th century. Each takes its design theme from the resident who might have occupied the house in which it is located— an art lover, book collector, music composer and antiques collector—and all have private entrances and canal views. The Pulitzer’s joined canal houses guard the most outstanding feature: a beautiful

park fitted out for relaxing and alfresco dining with whitecushioned loungers. The hotel’s main restaurant, Jansz, is open all day and features an open kitchen, brass fixtures, moss green banquettes and several waterfront tables where patrons can take in the serene view while dining on miso-glazed cod and lobster risotto. In a departure from the light, airy design of the rest of the hotel, Pulitzer’s Bar has a private club aesthetic, with dark velvet couches, a black marble fireplace and huntergreen walls. In another touching nod to Amsterdam’s rich history, the Pulitzer owns a beautiful boat, The Tourist, which runs canal tours daily. Impeccably maintained and decked out in maroon leather, polished teak and marble, the centuryold cruiser famously ferried Winston Churchill around the city when he visited for the one-year anniversary of Amsterdam’s liberation from Nazi occupation in 1946. It’s a wonderful, and historically significant, way to explore Amsterdam’s iconic waterways. Read Indagare’s review. Book this trip: 212-988-2611


The Edge of Wildness: Nihiwatu


The only resort on the Indonesian island of Sumba, Nihiwatu sits on 560 unspoiled acres. Indagare’s Sasha Feldman visited.


transformative travel



took a hike on my first morning on Sumba, an island the size of Massachusetts that sits in the Indian Ocean halfway between Java and Papua New Guinea. I began my trek on a stretch of Nihiwatu’s nearly two-mile private beach, where colossal moss-lined boulders protrude from the sea, revealed each afternoon by low tide. My guide and I then cut into untamed jungle and across expansive rice paddies that almost flowed into the ocean. It seemed like a scene from an adventure movie in which we had discovered a previously unknown land. The adrenaline of being somewhere so remote and unfamiliar, coupled with the breathtaking natural beauty, made our lives bigger. We came across two boys filling pails of water from a well. This was my first encounter with the Sumbanese. The young boys stretched their arms as wide as they would go, smiled as big as their small mouths would allow and waved, yelling hello in the local dialect. We greeted them, took a photo of them and showed it to the boys. Our white skin was clearly strange to them, and even more strange was seeing an image of themselves. There are no mirrors, let alone digital cameras or smart phones, in their villages. Our lives were made a little bigger again. We came across a group of farmers—men, women and children all working their small rice field. Our guide asked permission for us to cross through, and the farmers showed us the easiest route. She explained that we were visiting from America; they had never heard of it. She explained that it was “very, very far away,” and our lives were made even bigger. Lunch was awaiting us on a bluff overlooking the vast countryside. It was nothing short of perfect. Our guide began to teach us about the Sumbanese people, their traditions and their challenges, and we decided that after lunch we would visit one of the most spiritual of the local

villages. Although Sumba is predominantly Christian, the local religion is Marapu, and most people retain its traditions. Among these is a belief in the power of ancestral spirits, and every element of the people’s lives, from the construction of their homes to their ceremonial sacrifice of pigs and water buffalo, is designed to honor their ancestors and to insure a fruitful harvest. Switching to an open-air safari Jeep, we traversed ravines and climbed rocky dirt roads until we thundered our way to the top of the mountain where the village stood. The bamboo thatched huts have three stories: the first houses the animals, the second is a platform for socializing and welcoming guests, and the third contains the main living quarters and a space for worship. The horses, not accustomed to hearing cars (most people on Sumba do not own vehicles), spooked as we pulled up. The children all ran out, surprised, perhaps nervous, giggling and delighted. They followed us as we walked through the village to meet the elders. We spent an hour visiting their homes, learning about their way of life. Each minute we were there, our lives became bigger. During the rest of my time at Nihiwatu, I spent the afternoons surfing and snorkeling, horseback riding, floating in the infinity pool with views of the ocean, napping in a hammock and swapping stories with other guests. At night the sky was illuminated by stars, and we were humbled and full, and our lives were bigger. Then we woke the next day and felt it all again. My short time on Sumba was filled with learning experiences, from my smallest of interactions with local people to seeing the impactful work of the Sumba Foundation and visiting the wells, malaria clinics and schools that it has helped establish. Equally exciting were my interchanges with the very small like-minded community of which I was part at Nihiwatu. It


From left: a beach horseback ride; a pool villa and bedroom at Nihiwatu; the resort’s private beach

was composed of real travelers, smart, influential and sociable, most of whom had journeyed across the world for the second or third time, seeking moments of humility, awe, inspiration and pure joy like those Sumba generously offers over and over again. Literature throughout the ages has suggested that the answers to life’s most profound questions lie in the wilderness. Stories of heroic adventurers and explorers show that real inspiration and growth are achieved by stepping away from the familiar and into the unknown. I have no ambitions to journey into wilderness


in search of life’s meaning or myself, but I do wonder what can be said of today’s world. Our constant supply of information certainly drives progress, but does it also rob us of our ability to imagine, to dream and, in the context of travel, to live out our romantic ideals of discovery and exploration? In a world where everything seems already to be known, to have been touched and influenced, where do we, as travelers, find those moments of transcendence that heighten our awareness, deepen our consciousness and help us to learn, grow and be wholly present? I found one answer on Sumba Island, which I


“I mean, what can I say? Nihiwatu was incredible. Completely worth it, and I’m so glad you encouraged us to go.” ~An Indagare member

transformative travel

passing image of verdant jungle, every ray of warm, golden sunlight and the joyful sound of children’s voices. It was a teary departure and a difficult reacclimation to daily life, but without wanting or desire. I felt immense gratitude that such a place exists and truly fortunate to have witnessed it. The adventure left me bursting with a sense of fulfillment. My life is bigger for having been to Sumba, and I will always feel a profound bond with those who shared the experience. Book this trip with an Indonesia specialist. Contact the Indagare Team: | 212-988-2611


Nihiwatu in Brief

think may very well be the world’s best-kept secret: largely undeveloped but not uninhabited, primitive but accessible, gorgeously wild and unconditionally kind. Sumba reveals itself all at once to those privileged few who visit it. The island—with a population of nearly 700,000 but just one resort—never has more than 80 visitors on it. It is a lost world, a secret paradise, and it gave me everything I could have ever dreamed of getting out of travel. The warm breeze wafted over our uncovered Jeep as we headed back to the airport after our short stay, and I tried to hold on to each

Vibe: Tropical meets luxurious; intimate, authentic cultural immersion At a Glance: The only resort on the largely undeveloped island of Sumba, Nihiwatu sits on 560 unspoiled acres, including 1.5 miles of gorgeous private beach. It was originally built as a collection of rustic bungalows for surfers lured by its globally renowned, exclusive wave break. The property has since transformed into a luxurious, villa-style resort that doesn’t sacrifice its deep connection to—and protection of—the local community. Who Should Stay: Couples looking for a unique romantic getaway; honeymooners searching for an atmospheric castaway experience; families who value sense of place and exciting activities and excursions; travelers who appreciate truly off-thebeaten path cultural encounters; and those looking for a profound community outreach experience. Indagare Loves: The 29 villas, containing one to five bedrooms and located throughout the resort, from the beach to the highest point, are not only spacious but also come with private pools, outdoor baths and showers and plenty of privacy for lounging in seclusion; the Nihi Oka Spa Safari, sits on a bluff reachable by hiking through rice paddy fields (or open air safari jeep), and guests can enjoy unlimited spa services for as long as they wish; the Sumba Foundation has benefited the local communities by building wells and establishing schools and medical clinics, which have reduced malaria on the island by 85 percent. A portion of the resort’s profits go to the foundation. Read Indagare’s review.


Next Stop: Where to Go Now

Those who think they’ve seen it all, think again. The Indagare Travel team reports on farflung alternatives to some of the world’s most celebrated destinations.


ven as everywhere on the planet becomes interconnected and modes of transportation make long distances less daunting, there still remain pristine pockets in relatively unexplored regions. For intrepid travelers who have hit most of the tourist high points, Indagare offers off-the-beaten-path counterparts to six notable destinations. These up-and-comers are blessed with magnificent landscapes, rich cultures and tons of activity options waiting to be discovered.

Just Back From: LA Next Stop: Melbourne


Destination Requirements: cultural offerings, art scene, beautiful coastline. Los Angeles is beloved for its fusion of visionary design and culture with a laidback Californian lifestyle, but among creative, coastal cities, the spotlight is now on Melbourne. Declared the world’s most livable urban environment, Melbourne is also Australia’s cultural capital, boasting a diverse population, vibrant arts scene and rich history. Stylish shoppers will beeline to boutiques that stock local avant-garde fashions, while foodies will be delighted with the eclectic selection of global

cuisines. Its hosting of events like the Australian Open, AFL Grand Final and Melbourne Cup horse races has also made the city a buzzing spot for diehard sports fans. Need a respite from the flurry of activity? Retreat to Melbourne’s miles of beach and peaceful parks with indigenous trees. Recommended Hotel: The Langham. Read our review.

Just Back From: Cabo Next Stop: Mozambique Destination Requirements: romantic resorts, privacy, breathtaking beaches. Cabo, with its dramatic rock formations and long stretches

looking ahead


From left: Melbourne’s Brighton Beach; &Beyond Benguerra Island; the Norwegian fjords

of beach, has long lured those seeking tranquility and rest to its bevy of pampering properties. Those yearning for truly secluded beachfront luxury, however, will fall for Mozambique’s tropical splendor. The intimate &Beyond Benguerra, with only 13 beachside bungalows, invites guests to relax while enjoying the island’s white sand beach edged by turquoise waters and extensive coral reefs filled with tropical fish, as well as the lush palm groves that envelop the property’s casinhas and cabanas. Couples will adore the privacy of these thatched-roof hideaways, which come with

plunge pools, spacious decks and beach palapas, and offer the option of dining on the beach surrounded by lanterns. Recommended Hotel: &Beyond Benguerra Island. Read our review.

Just Back From: Jackson Hole Next Stop: The Dolomites Destination Requirements: thrilling skiing, mountain vistas, small-town charm. Despite an influx of luxury properties and fine restaurants, Jackson Hole’s quaint downtown and thousands of acres of rugged landscape still evoke an authentically West-

ern atmosphere. For adventurous skiers and purists who appreciate striking landscapes and well-preserved villages, the next region to explore is the Dolomites. Occupying the northeastern corner of the Italian Alps, the Dolomites are endowed with steep slopes and soaring peaks that attract athletes year-round. The region’s fascinating fusion of Germanic and Italian cultures is on full display in Cortina, a tourist hotspot with high-end shopping and dining, but venturing farther afield presents even more rewards. Charming towns stud the region, and the vast Dolomites Super Ski re-


Just Back From: Peru Next Stop: Bhutan Destination Requirements: lush landlocked country, religious sites, remote. Peru’s stunning topography of verdant valleys and Andean mountains, plus its sacred


Incan sites, of which Machu Picchu is the most famous, have drawn intrepid travelers for decades. In contrast, the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, nestled between its massive neighbors India and China, has staved off tourist throngs while preserving its Buddhist heritage and varied landscape. A trip here combines visits to religious and cultural sites with adventurous exploration of the breathtaking scenery. Days can be spent hiking to hushed mountaintop monasteries, visiting lively villages and river rafting through

deep valleys and alongside rice paddies. The government has imposed restrictions on tourism and development, but luxury brands, including Aman and COMO, have serene lodges and resorts throughout the country, so comfort is never sacrificed for seclusion. Recommended Hotel: Uma Paro by COMO. Read our review.

Just Back From: New Zealand Next Stop: Norwegian Fjords Destination Requirements: dramatic landscapes, wilder-


sort encompasses almost 1,000 miles of skiable terrain. A stay at Rosa Alpina, an exquisite retreat that tempers Italian chic with Alpine coziness, is the best choice for exploring this unique destination. Recommended Hotel: Rosa Alpina. Read our review.

looking ahead

Just Back From: South

Clockwise from top left: a Bhutan scenic; the pool at the Vines; Norway’s charming town of Bergen

ness activities, mountains. New Zealand’s twin islands, with their wide range of spectacular terrain—from plunging cliffs to serene beaches and snow-capped mountains—tops the bucket lists of many adventure and nature lovers. Those who have checked this item off but still crave dramatic landscapes should venture north to the Norwegian fjords. Created by glaciers, the fjords are aweinspiring. Imposing mountains descend into these icy inlets, which offer breathtaking vistas at every turn. All along the rugged coastline are tiny

fishing villages and seafaring communities worthy of a close look. Thrill seekers can kayak, ski, hike and bike between glaciers amid the scenery, while those favoring less rigorous pursuits can cruise among the fjords to take in the spectacular views from a more luxurious vantage point. The charming port city of Bergen, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is an excellent base from which to explore the mystical peaks and valleys of the region. Recommended Hotel: Indagare advises seeing this region by private boat charter.

Africa’s Winelands Next Stop: Argentina’s Mendoza Destination requirements: vineyards, stunning valleys, foodie scene. Just 45 minutes outside of Cape Town, the South African winelands offer miles of rolling green hills dotted with renowned wineries, as well as an excellent culinary scene, but oenophiles willing to go off the beaten path should discover Mendoza. Irrigated by glacial melt from the Andes Mountains, Mendoza and the expansive Uco Valley are among the premium sites for the production of Malbec, a robust and fruity red wine. Many of the region’s 1,500 wineries are family owned and boast spectacular settings, their vineyard and orchards standing in neat rows against a dramatic Andes backdrop. Winery tastings and tours, often hosted by the owners themselves, can be coupled with elaborate menus featuring the finest Argentinian cuisine. Besides Mendoza’s sophisticated varietals, the region offers a host of activities like horseback riding, biking and whitewater rafting down glacial streams. Recommended Hotel: The Vines Resort & Spa. Read our review.


All Eyes on Austin

The Texas capital has developed a sophisticated dining and shopping scene to complement its beloved honky-tonks and BBQ joints. Indagare’s Texas contributor, Kathi Mosbacher, outlines the ideal weekend itinerary.


hen I was growing up in Houston, Austin was the college town that graduates never wanted to leave. Now, according to Forbes, it’s the fastest-growing city in America. Is it the music, the food or the laid-back culture, in which you’re overdressed if your blue jeans are black? Or does Austin just have that special quality spelled out in a neon sign at the Hotel Saint Cecilia: SOUL? Yes, Austin has spirit, a lot of style and, as of the past few years, some serious glamour. Of course, there are plenty of barbecue joints, rockabilly venues and thrift and vintage stores, but recent openings have presented visitors with a new category of choices. Those seeking a chic city experience can now opt for a lunch of


lobster rolls and Ossetra caviar after scooping up some cowboy boots on the boutique-laden South Congress Avenue. Most Austin hotels are fully booked on fall weekends during football season, and the city’s best restaurants require advance notice because most are tiny and very popular. The 15-room Hotel Saint Cecilia ( is cool-central and ideally located for those who want to experience Austin’s eclectic spirit. A great alternative for traditionalists is the Four Seasons ( The prime rooms are on high floors and have views of Lady Bird Lake, especially enchanting at dusk, when a huge colony of Mexican free-tailed bats flocks out from under the Congress Avenue Bridge.


Perla’s at dusk

the long weekend

Indagare Tip: Unless you plan to drive to Austin, you probably don’t want to rent a car. The traffic is notoriously awful and parking nearly nonexistent. The best transportation app is Ride Austin, a nonprofit ride-sharing service created out of necessity by local community members. The best alternative may be to walk when possible or take a taxi.

shows. Indagare Tip: Both venues have “secret” upstairs lounges in which to enjoy the music. Those with enough energy for a nightcap should continue the evening at watering hole Justine’s Brasserie (4710 E. 5th St.). Frequented by everyone from locals to drag queens and frat boys, it plays vinyl LPs of classics like the Isley Brothers’ rendition of “Fire and Rain.”

Ideal Weekend Itinerary

Day Two

Day One

Afternoon: Head to South Congress (SoCo), a hip, three-block neighborhood where you can find shops stuffed with diverse treasures (see sidebar). For a mid-shopping bite, pop into Big Top Candy Shop (1706 S. Congress Ave.), a local confectioner with an old-fashioned soda fountain (the ice-cream floats are legendary) and a wide selection of nostalgia-inducing sweets. Prefer something savory? Head to Perla’s (1400 S. Congress Ave.) for tuna tartare, fried oysters and a SoCo Fizz. Evening: Before dinner, visit one of James Beard Award–winner Tyson Cole’s two restaurants, the highly regarded Uchi (801 S. Lamar Blvd.) or Uchiko (4200 N. Lamar Blvd.). Both have a Sake Happy Hour between 5:00 and 6:30 PM, when patrons can sample a vast assortment of sakes while munching mini portions of sushi and creative Asian fusion delights like flounder sashimi with candied quinoa. Those who prefer not to wait in line at the iconic Franklin Barbecue (900 E. 11th St.) can opt instead for Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue (401 W. 2nd St.). Located in the historic Schneider Brother’s Building, the eatery serves authentic Texas barbecue, chicken-fried oysters and a must-have, off-the-menu, Frito pie. After dinner, music lovers should go to the Continental Club (1315 S. Congress Ave.) or C-Boys Heart and Soul (2008 S. Congress Ave.) for live

Morning: The best breakfast in Austin is served at Torchy’s Tacos (1822 S. Congress Ave.). A favorite order is the Number Four Breakfast Taco, which comes with jalapeño sausage, scrambled eggs and jack cheese. Weather permitting, rent a kayak or swan pedal boat at Lady Bird Lake, which also has great hiking, biking and jogging paths. For something less strenuous, visit Laguna Gloria Museum (3809 W. 35th St.). Located on the grounds of the Driscoll Villa and run by the Contemporary Austin art museum, this institution’s architecture was inspired by the villas that line the banks of Lake Como. The grounds also contain the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park, which includes permanent

SoCo Shopping List: Feather’s Boutique (1700 S. Congress Ave.): Vintage finds like Mongolian fur vests Limbo Jewelry (1604 S. Congress Ave.): Embroidered western shirts, prayer candles emblazoned with the likenesses of Amy Schumer and Kim Kardashian and more South Congress Books (1608 S. Congress Ave.): First-edition books, vintage posters and what the store calls “quirkiana” Uncommon Objects (1512 S. Congress Ave.): Religious artifacts, totem poles and taxidermy Allens Boots (1522 S. Congress Ave.): Cowboy boots, available in custom styles ByGeorge (1400 S. Congress Ave.): Carefully curated designs from Chloe, Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent


the long weeekend

“Austin’s SoCo feels like Haight-Ashbury in its heyday. And the peoplewatching is endlessly entertaining.” ~Indagare’s Ramona Bass, a Texas native

installations like Tom Friedman’s 33-foot-tall stainless-steel Looking Up, Tom Sachs’ whimsical Miffy Fountain and Danish artist collective SUPERFLEX’s Lost Money, composed of $2,000 worth of coins. The University of Texas’s Harry Ransom Center (300 W. 21st St.) owns a copy of the Gutenberg Bible, the world’s first photograph, and Frida Kahlo’s Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird. It also has a large humanities research library containing archival manuscripts and films relating to figures ranging from James Joyce to Stella Adler. Nearby is the LBJ Presidential Library (2313 Red River St.), where visitors can learn about the thirty-sixth president of the United States and his Great Society initiative. The courtship letters between Johnson, then a


congressional aide in Washington, D.C., and Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor are particularly touching. For lunch, go to Clark’s Oyster Bar (1200 W. 6th St.) for caviar and or the sumptuous lobster roll. Afternoon: Gallery-hop along West 6th Street, then wander a few blocks east to North Lamar to do some shopping. Don’t miss new and vintage vinyl emporium Waterloo Records (600A N. Lamar Blvd.) or Wildflower Organics (524 N. Lamar Blvd. #101), a long-time source for organic bedding, loungewear and furniture. Evening: Stop for cocktails at Jeffrey’s (1204 W. Lynn St.) before dinner at pint-sized stunner Lenoir (1807 S. 1st St.), known nationally for exotic dishes made from local ingredients. For some post-dinner music, take a taxi to the Saxon Pub (1320 S. Lamar Blvd.), which has a listening room vibe and is so intimate that Kris Kristofferson famously said playing there felt as though he were in his own living room. Book this trip with an Indonesia specialist. Contact the Indagare Team: | 212-988-2611


Clockwise: Hotel Saint Cecilia; shopping at Feather’s; the famous brisket at Franklins


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destination report

Morocco’s Details and Silence

From the wind-swept desert to sparkling cities and the culturally rich Atlas Mountains, Morocco is a seductive destination. The Indagare Travel team reports.


orocco’s fascination derives from its details. The country has no Taj Mahal, no Eiffel Tower, no museums that inspire religious-like reverence. It is a country of discreet charm that often lies below or behind surfaces. Marrakech and Fez boast few decorated facades. You drive up to a nondescript building, having been told that it’s a worldrenowned design hotel, and do not realize how special it is until you’ve ventured into its heart, the courtyard. Here, finally, you are surrounded by ornate tile work, fountains, blossoms and chic décor. Only the daily call to prayer reminds that you are in the middle of a bustling city. Days in Morocco are best spent not hopping between museums and grand institutions, but having deeply personal experiences: taking a cooking class in a Marrakech riad, sharing tea in a Berber home in the Atlas Mountains, learning how leather is dyed at the Fez tannery. Morocco’s allure is revealed to the adventurous, those who engage the country and its inhabitants with fervor. A frequent visitor to Morocco, Indagare

founder Melissa Biggs Bradley adores the country for its contrasting landscapes and the experiences that await beyond the pulsing cities. “On a recent trip to Morocco,” she remarks, “starting in Marrakech and ending in Fez, I got a taste of a quiet grace, and it made me crave more. “We were miles away from other people, with no cell service, only the sound of the wind, having nothing to do but watch the moon rise behind us and the sun set before us, to feel the ground beneath us and the vastness above. There were no distractions from the beauty of the moment, and I realized that that is exactly what I would like more of—for myself, for my family, for my friends and my fellow travelers. Modern life is so pervaded by technology and its pace so frenetic that the ultimate luxury is having time to focus and appreciate fully where you are and who you are with. Being in a truly isolated place allows you to do all that in a particularly pure way.” For its bustling cities, topographical and cultural diversity and the sense of stillness it inspires, we celebrate Morocco in this issue.

Indagare Access: Inside Morocco From sunset camel rides to personalized horticultural tours in the Atlas Mountains, the Indagare team is expert at curating specialized experiences throughout Morocco. Travel specialists can arrange for candlelit dining in the desert; henna and other spa treatments; pottery and cooking classes; and private tours of some of Morocco’s most famous locations. With in-house experts and a vast network of international partners and contacts, Indagare can organize immersive cultural experiences as well, like attending a tea ceremony with a Berber family or exploring the souk with an expert guide. There is no bookings fee for Indagare members. Contact us at 212-988-2611 or


destination report: lay of the land


lightly larger than California, Morocco arcs along the coast of northwest Africa, encompassing a diverse geography that ranges from the vast Sahara Desert to lush palm groves to the dramatic Atlas Mountains. The region was part of the Berber kingdom of Mauretania, founded in the third century B.C., and was incorporated into the Roman, Byzantine, and Arab-Islamic empires as they succeeded each other through the centuries. France and Spain colonized Morocco in the 19th century, but in 1953 it gained independence and today is ruled by a constitutional monarchy. A rich melting pot of cultures blessed with dramatic landscapes, Morocco is one of the world’s most enchanting and dynamic destinations. The country’s thousand-mile Atlantic and Mediterranean coastline is dotted with port cities, including sprawling Casablanca and the capital, Rabat. But inland is where its true treasures lie. The Atlas Mountains slice through Morocco’s center, separating the coast from the desert. Between the mountains and the coast are subtropical plains, which are home to Marrakech and Fez. Marrakech, formerly a trading center and now a global hotspot, is renowned for its maze-like medina, opulent riads and souks replete with fragrant spices and exotic wares. Typically the first stop on a trip to Morocco, Marrakech, with its sophisticated cuisine, Islamic mosques and European flair, is a perfect introduction to the country and its complex cultural history. About 300 miles northeast of this glamorous Westernized city, Fez presents an interesting contrast. Considered the religious and cultural heart of the country, it was known in its glory days, in the Middle Ages, as the Athens of Africa, drawing philosophers and Islamic intellectuals to its monuments and souk, and today it retains a traditional character. The High Atlas subrange of the Atlas Moun-


tains is home to Berber villages, as well as scenic trails that hikers can explore from a base at one of the kasbahs (old fortresses) that have been transformed into luxury resorts or camping out overnight in tents. South of the mountains lies the vast Sahara, on the edge of which sit the city of Ouarzazate and the nearby resort Dar Ahlam. Morocco has a typically Mediterranean climate, with very hot, dry summers and chillier winters. The Atlas Mountains are cooler, getting snow in the winter, while the southern desert regions can get blisteringly hot. The best times to visit are spring and fall, when temperatures are pleasantly mild throughout the country.

Getting There The best way to get to Morocco is to fly to Marrakech via a European city, preferably Madrid. There are also direct flights to Casablanca from New York that offer connections to Marrakech.

Getting Around Much of Morocco is mountainous, so traveling between towns and regions can be arduous and time-consuming. Flights often get canceled on short notice. As for ground transportation, many roads are unpaved, so for long journeys, hiring a car and driver is preferable to driving a rental car yourself.

Indagare Plus

Members who book through Indagare receive preferential rates and/or special amenities at the properties with the Indagare Plus symbol. As a preferred partner of Four Seasons, among others, Indagare offers perks, upgrades, credits and other benefits at hundreds of hotels.We are also an American Express affiliate so can book Platinum and Centurion benefits.


Morocco Marrakesh Atlas Mountains



Skoura Ouarzazate

Ten Days in Morocco

A trip to Morocco can be anything from a long weekend in Marrakech to a two-week safari-style journey with multiple stops.


o experience Morocco in all its varied beauty, it is best to allow for ten days of exploring. Here are our tips for how to structure the ideal trip.

Days 1-4: Marrakech No longer the well-kept secret of travel cognoscenti that it was 15 years ago, Marrakech is now recognized as one of the world’s great cities. With the design flair of Paris, the ethnic diversity of New York, the commercial energy of Hong Kong and a history that rivals that of any city in Europe, Marrakech is above all a city of heart and soul—of sunlight on rough pink walls, fragrant, richly hued spices and rose petals floating in slowly trickling fountains. Hotel-wise, travelers can choose between grand historic properties and boutique riads in the medina to family-friendly resorts and villas in the city’s smart Palmeraie district. Begin your time in Marrakech with a visit to the Jardin


Majorelle, a beautiful botanical garden that was owned by Yves Saint Laurent. Continue to the Koutoubia Mosque, one of the city’s defining landmarks. From there you can explore the ancient pink-walled medina and its colorful souks and the Koranic university Medersa ben Youssef. Following this, experience the frenetic energy of Djemaa el Fnaa, one of the world’s great squares, replete with snake charmers, healers and henna artists. Indagare has wonderful guides who can help you navigate the souk, which offers some spectacular shopping, as well as both public and private gardens. We can also arrange trips into the desert for lunch, camel rides and memorable cooking classes.

Days 5-6: The Atlas Mountains Many consider the High Atlas region the most beautiful part of Morocco. Life moves at a slow pace, and the people revere both the family and hospitality to strangers. The region offers luxu-

destination report: itinerary

Clockwise from left: the Moroccan desert; the oasical Dar Ahlam hotel and one of its special dinner experiences; Kasbah Tamadot in the Atlas Mountains

rious resorts, including ones suited to families. Indagare’s favorite property offers guided hikes or horseback rides into the mountains and visits to Berber villages by foot or donkey, as well as excellent hamman treatments.

Desert and its oases. Home to one of the world’s most beautiful resorts, Dar Ahlam, Skoura sits in a fertile desert oasis located a 30-minute drive from Ouarzazate. The valley is filled with centuries-old kasbahs, and activities include camel trekking and visiting Berber villages.


Possible Add-Ons Fez (2 days): Morocco’s third-largest city, the culturally rich Fez is known for Al Quaraouiyine University and its medieval marketplace. The souk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the world’s largest, comprising approximately 9,000 winding lanes. Dedicate one day to touring Fez’s ancient monuments and ancient leather tanneries and a second to visiting the Roman ruins of Volubis and the imperial city of Meknes. Skoura & Ouarzazate (2 days): Ouarzazate is known for its many kasbahs. Nicknamed the “door of the desert,” it is a wonderful base from which to visit the Draa Valley and Sahara

Moroccan Coast (2 days): A seaside resort, Agadir is famous for its seafood and agriculture. Just west of Marrakech, Essaouira is an easy choice for those who want some quick beach time. A bit farther north, Oualidia is home to the beautiful La Sultana resort. Tangier, on the northern tip of the country, is popular with day trippers who visit from the southern Spain coastline to get a glimpse of Morocco. Book this trip with a Morocco specialist. Contact the Indagare Team: | 212-988-2611


Magical Marrakech

Amanjena at night



Morocco’s most alluring city beckons with a heady blend of exoticism, glamour and style.

destination report: marrakech


arrakech has it all: history, romance and atmosphere. It exudes a happening, hip vibe, but it also has a sterling pedigree. The architecture is amazing, the gardens gorgeous, the shopping an ethnic extravaganza. It has enough historical sites to keep traditionalists happy without exhausting the less obsessed. If you’re looking for an exotic locale with opportunities for indulgence, it doesn’t get any better than Marrakech.


Lay of the Land When people talk of visiting Marrakech, they generally mean the central area, within the old city walls, which consists of the centuries-old medina and the Palmeraie. Great shopping is found in the modern district of Gueliz and, farther afield, in the industrial zone Sidi Ghanem. For the purposes of this Destination Guide, these are the neighborhoods to know: Medina: This is the physical and spiritual heart of the city. Surrounded by the old town’s 12th-century walls, it is about double the size of New York’s Central Park. Wandering through its meandering narrow streets, visitors come upon riads, souks and hammams. It is the site of many of Marrakech’s most famous sights, including the Koutoubia Minaret, the 14th-century Koranic university Medersa Ben Youssef and Jemaa el Fnaa, the city’s lively central square. The medina also contains the El Badi and Bahia palaces, Dar el Makhzen and the Dar Si Said museum, as well as the Menara Gardens; the lush Agdal and historic Jardin Majorelle are just outside the walls to the north. Palmeraie: This district lies about a 25-minute drive to the northeast of the medina. An oasis of palm trees, it is home to some luxury hotels, golf courses and villas.

Gueliz: Part of the so-called nouvelle ville (new city) lies just northwest of the medina. Many of Marrakech’s best shops are found along its main thoroughfare, Avenue Mohammed V, while restaurants cluster around its piazzas, such as Place de la Liberté, Place 16 Novembre and Place Abdelmoumen Ben Ali. Sidi Ghanem: The area’s industrial zone, located about an hour’s drive north of Marrakech, is home to design studios that make and sell carpets, ceramics and textiles. Shoppers can take a taxi here from the medina, but it is best to go with a guide. Beyond: The Atlas Mountains begin about an hour’s drive south of the city, and the Agafy desert lies about 45 minutes away. It is not the Sahara (if you want to visit that, you need to fly to the south of the country), but it does have sand dunes, camels and an unspoiled quality.

Getting Around Wherever you stay, you will want to stroll around the medina, so pack comfortable walking shoes. Islamic tradition rules here, so women should wear modest, nonrevealing clothes. Crime is not a major issue, but there are many hawkers and beggars who will spot you as an easy mark if you wear expensive jewelry or other obvious tourist garb, so dress in an understated style. It’s not advisable to drive yourself in a rental car, so we recommend either hiring a driver through Indagare or having your hotel arrange taxis.

Where to Stay Amanjena Located a 15-minute drive from the medina, Amanjena is deliciously indulgent and deserves its stellar reputation. Created by Ed Tuttle,


Four Seasons Marrakech Located on 40 acres near the city’s conference center and not much else, the Four Seasons Marrakech eschews traditional Moroccan de-

sign in favor of a minimalist aesthetic. In place of the opulent interiors favored by iconic hotels, you will find light-filled public spaces and suites. Travelers who are looking for a North American resort experience with great service and a fantastic kids’ program will pleased. Who Should Stay: Families and other travelers who want five-star service. Read our review. Jnane Tamsna Popular with fashion designers and celebrities for its privacy, this estate comprises five suites,

“For us, being able to go into the crowded medina and then return to the relaxing La Mamounia was key. The gardens and grounds are spectacular and have lots of charm. The lovely breakfast by the pool was a perfect start to the day.” ~An Indagare member



the master of refinement who designed most of Amanresorts’ best hotels, the architecture is stunning, epitomizing grand minimalism. The property centers on a huge, palm-lined pool. Who Should Stay: Those who have been to Marrakech before and others who don’t need to be in the city center. Read our review.

destination report: marrakech From left: the spa at the Four Seasons; an evening scene at Djemaa el Fnaa

scenting the air. La Mamounia is a hotel where over-the-top effects feel right at home. Who Should Stay: Travelers seeking a glamorous base with a deep history. Read our review.

a ten-bedroom house and a stunning villa. Décor includes Moroccan furniture, Senegalese textiles, Berber rugs and Asian silks. Who Should Stay: Those who appreciate the sense of staying in a home. Read our review. Riad el Fenn This hip riad in the medina, filled with contemporary art, is owned by Richard Branson’s sister Vanessa. Guests can lounge by the pool or enjoy the hammam, the screening room or the library. The bedrooms are spacious with big beds, deep baths and wood fires. Who Should Stay: Stylish types who appreciate chicness over five-star service. Read our review. La Mamounia This legendary property offers proximity to the medina and a park-like setting. French designer Jacques Garcia oversaw every detail of the interiors, including the specially composed music played in the public areas and the exclusive perfume of dates, roses and sandalwood

Le Royal Mansour Closer to a museum than a hotel, Le Royal Mansour is extravagantly styled and has a great location near the medina. Intricate interiors include sculpted silver ceilings, mirrored walls and mother-of-pearl inlays. The owner, the King of Morocco, wanted to create a medina-like space, so guests have their own riads. Who Should Stay: Art aficionados and those for whom cost is no object. Read our review. Mandarin Oriental Marrakech Opened in 2015, the Mandarin Oriental is a resort oasis located just outside the city’s bustling medina. The 54 villas and suites are housed in structures of sand-colored stone that harmonize with the nearly 50 acres of roses, jasmine and palm trees. The décor expertly marries Moroccan and Berber design, with a vibrant palette and an emphasis on natural light and outdoor space. The public areas are stunning. Who Should Stay: Families and those craving a sense of place. Read our review.

Rent a Riad Indagare members can contact our bookings team to rent properties that range from a stylish riad in the heart of the medina to a sprawling villa in the Palmeraie. We will tailor suggestions based on your particular wishes and group configuration.


“One of the most fulfilling aspects of our trip was visiting a predominantly Muslim country and having the opportunity to understand and appreciate the religion and culture... We felt lucky to learn of the distinctions of the Muslim culture all while being in an incredibly inspiring and vibrant country that felt generally safe and friendly.� ~Holly Brown, Indagare member since 2013


Clockwise from top left: dinner at Nomad; delicate lanterns; Riad El Fenn; tea at Amanjena



destination report: marrakech

Peacock Pavilions Peacock Pavilions, an oasis of calm and high design, lies 20 minutes outside the medina. Tucked in an olive grove, this intimate resort is adorned with brightly colored lanterns, Persian rugs and intricate wallpaper. Who Should Stay: Groups or couples who want a stylish, private hideaway and don’t mind being outside the city center. Read our review.

Villa des Orangers If you have only one meal in Marrakech, whether lunch or dinner, have it here. A short walk from the buzz of Djemma el Fnaa and the souk, the restaurant seems to belong to another world, thanks to its surrounding groves of orange trees, lavender gardens and swimming pools. Lunch is served outside under a vinedraped arbor. 6 Rue Sidi Mimoun

Villa des Orangers Housed in a riad that has been transformed into a tiny Moroccan palace, the 19room Villa des Orangers combines Moroccan flair and fine craftsmanship with true French art de vivre. From the exquisite tiled courtyard to the serene pool area, each corner of the property is designed to evoke a sense of place. Who Should Stay: Travelers seeking a base in the medina with beautiful surroundings and an intimate atmosphere. Read our review.

Royal Mansour The French and Moroccan restaurants at the Royal Mansour hotel are helmed by Yannick Alleno, the chef who took Paris by storm when he won three Michelin stars. Rue Abou Abbas el Sebti

Where to Eat The culinary scene in Marrakech keeps getting better, and even the Moroccan wines are now so good that French expats bring them home to Provence. You may want to take breakfast in your room and lunch by the pool at your hotel, but plan ahead for dinner. Afternoon siestas are the rule for tourists and residents alike, so make late reservations, or be prepared to dine alone. In accordance with Islamic law, restaurants within the souk do not serve alcohol. Restaurant of La Sultana In warm months, the lantern-lit rooftop patio of La Sultana offers diners expansive views of the medina and the Atlas Mountains. The traditional menu highlights such Moroccan dishes as lamb couscous with vegetables, duck foie gras and scallop tagine. Rue de La Kasbah

Grand Cafe de la Poste In this colonial French café you almost expect to see Camus in a linen suit smoking in a corner. It’s most popular at lunch, when those lucky enough to grab a table tend to linger. It’s also a great spot to hear jazz. Avenue Imam Malik La Terrasse des Epices Occupying a large rooftop in the souk with stunning views over the city, this is a perfect spot for lunching in a hip environment. The restaurant has private cabanas and specials include such dishes as carrot ginger soup and turkey and dried fruit tagine. 15 Souk Cherifi Le Tobsil Housed in a beautiful old riad, Le Tobsil is divided into a number of small rooms—some with fireplaces and pillowed banquettes. Derb Abdellah Ben Hessein Villa Flore A chic clientele fills the black-and-white marble dining room here at both lunch and dinner. The


destination report: marrakech

A Moroccan spread at Riad El Fenn

Le Marocain at La Mamounia This restaurant is a classic choice for a sophisticated dinner. The Moroccan salads are served in beautiful bowls. Avenue Prince Moulay Rachid


Riad Kniza The nine-table restaurant at Riad Kniza hotel serves traditional Moroccan cuisine. The chef requires that dinner orders be placed a day in advance so that he has time to source the freshest ingredients. 34 Derb l’Hotel

Riad El Fenn The restaurant at the El Fenn shares the hotel’s quirky vibe, with deep-blue walls, an eclectic décor and a buzzy scene. Begin the evening with a cocktail at the rooftop bar. 2 Derb Moulay Abdullah Ben Hezzian

Nomad Centrally located near the medina’s souks, Nomad is a chic three-story restaurant serving modern Moroccan food. With both indoor and outdoor dining spaces, it makes a great stop for lunch while shopping. After eating, stop by the restaurant’s small boutique, Chabi Chic, located on the ground floor. 1 Derb Aarjan

Dar Rhizlane With a lavish setting and a spectacular fourcourse tasting menu, this is one of the most romantic dining spots in Marrakech. On warm nights, candlelit and flower-adorned tables are set in the lush courtyard. Avenue Jnane El Harti

Salt Helmed by a team of local female chefs, Salt serves a seasonal six-course tasting menu. Steeped in Morocco’s diverse heritage, dishes may include a prawn ceviche and slow-cooked lamb with apricots. 108 Rue de Berima


set menu of French-inflected Moroccan dishes— like pastilla rolls and Moroccan salads—changes with the market offerings. 4 Derb Azzouz



co mo

destination report: marrakech

Le Palace This clubby lounge and restaurant conjures up images of Marrakech as a hedonists’ hideaway in the 1920s. It attracts a beautiful crowd with its Italian fare like lobster linguine, dover sole and veal Milanese. Avenue Echouhada Le Paillotte Channeling Out of Africa, the décor at Le Paillotte includes potted palms and tribal art. The menu highlights French and Italian dishes like smoked salmon tartine. Km 4, Route d’Amizmiz

wards, enjoy the fruits of your labor—a cumin-, coriander- and saffron-scented feast of tagines with wine pairings. Contact Indagare to book. Indagare Tour: Hot-Air Balloon Ride One of the most beautiful ways to experience Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains is from above. Indagare can arrange private hot-air balloon tours complete with Champagne and traditional Moroccan snacks. Indagare Tour: Photography Experience Indagare members can tour Marrakech with a world-renowned photographer who has a particular love for Marrakech and its people. Contact Indagare to book.

To truly enjoy what Marrakech has to offer, you should explore the city by wandering through the medina, looking about you and absorbing its exotic sights, sounds and smells.

Jardin Majorelle This gorgeous botanic garden was designed in the 1920s by French expat artist Jacques Majorelle. Yves Saint Laurent bought the estate in the 1980s. The boutique sells creations by former Yves Saint Laurent designer Bernard Sanz. Rue Yves Saint Laurent

Indagare Tour: Cooking Class Learn how to prepare a festive Moroccan meal alongside a dada (female home cook). After-

Koutoubia Mosque and Medersa Ben Youssef There is no better place to begin your exploration of Marrakech than the tiled minaret of

What to See and Do

“Dinner at La Pause was unforgettable. The setting is magical with good food and lots of was perfect for a celebratory dinner.” ~ P. Connor, Indagare member since 2013



Le Patron de la Mer Known for its seafood dishes, including an excellent paella, Le Patron is a bright and airy eatery with floor-to-ceiling windows and dangling chandeliers. Rue Oued El Makhazine

Marrakech’s bustling souk



Clockwise from top left: Koutoubia Mosque; accessories and the interior at Chabi Chic; exploring the souk; Amanjena


destination report: marrakech

the 12th-century Koutoubia Mosque, the city’s defining landmark. Next, visit the medieval Koranic university Medersa Ben Youssef, one of the finest examples of Islamic architecture in North Africa. Kaat Benahid Musée de Marrakech The sumptuous 19th-century Mnebhi Palace holds the Musée de Marrakech, home to beautiful courtyards and galleries devoted to modern and traditional Moroccan art. Place Ben Youssef.


Dar Bellarj Foundation This foundation, established to showcase Moroccan culture, hosts art exhibitions and performances. Place Ben Youssef Place Djemma el Fnaa Djemaa el Fnaa, one of the greatest squares in the world, was once the ultimate destination for traders from places as far-flung as Venice, subSaharan Africa and Asia. La Maison de la Photographie This tiny museum offers a history of Marrakech through photos, most sourced from the early 20th century. Previously a private home, the building boasts a rooftop terrace, where tea and cocktails are served. 46, Rue Souk Ahal Fassi Indagare Experience: Oasis Exploration Indagare’s favorite magical mini-oasis, located a 45 minute drive from the city, offers a taste of Morocco’s varied landscapes. The 45-acre garden and olive grove is a great spot for lunch or dinner, and during the day, visitors can camel or horseback ride or play the nine-hole golf course, where donkeys serve as caddies. Members can book a visit through the Indagare Bookings Team:

Four Questions With… A longtime Indagare member, Madeline Weinrib has spent her life collecting and creating works of art inspired by her world travels. Indagare spoke to the acclaimed designer about her favorite finds in Marrakech. You are a frequent visitor to Marrakech; what draws you back time and again? I go to Marrakech twice a year, often to buy vintage carpets. I am constantly inspired by the colors and design of the city. I also love the food, the people and the landscape; it’s always a place for more discovery. Is there one café in the city you particularly love? For lunch, I like to go to Nomad for a Moroccan salad and lamb tagine (1, Derb Aajrane, Rahba Kedima, 212-5243-81-609).  If you could visit Marrakech for only 24 hours, how would you spend the day? I would invite all my friends to stay at the small, beautifully appointed hotel Jnane Tamsna in the Palmeraie about 20 minutes from the center. During the day, everyone could head to the souk for some shopping. What are some of your favorite shops in the city? Akbar Delights (Square Bab Fteuh, Marrakech Medina) for East-meets-West Fashion; Maison du Kaftan (Rue Sidi el Yamani, Marrakesh), a classic for kaftans; Majorelle Garens gift shop (Rue Yves Saint Laurent), a beautifully curated shop of local crafts; 33 Rue Majorelle (33 Rue Yves Saint Laurent), a concept shop, Marrakech-style; and Lalla (Boulevard el Mansour Eddahbi), a boutique with a stylish French owner.


destination report: marrakech Marrakech Shopping There are few places in the world more vibrant than Marrakech for shopping. With its medina’s winding streets lined by booths piled with spices and merchants inviting customers to have tea in their back rooms, it is exhilarating–and overwhelming–even for seasoned hagglers. A guide can help you navigate the souk’s narrow arteries and find the best stalls, or explore the more modern parts of the city, whether you’re looking for latticed lanterns, a Berber kilim rug or the purest argan oil. Here are some boutiques worth seeking out.

Palais Bahia This oasis overflowing with lush gardens and palatial architecture is a blissful escape from the medina. Built in stages beginning in 1859, the sprawling complex was home to generations of vizier sultans. The intricate mosaic tiles and carvings that adorn the inner courtyards and opulent rooms tell of the extravagance enjoyed by Moroccan royals. 5 Rue Riad Zitoun el Jdid The Secret Garden This sumptuous riad, set within twin gardens of manicured exotic plants and large fountains, was home to members of the Moroccan ruling family and other prominent citizens from 1550 to 1934. There are stunning views of the medina and Atlas Mountains. Rue Mouassine 121


André Heller Garden: Anima The passion project of André Heller, a globally renowned artist, Anima is a five-acre garden. Within the lush groves of palms and tropical plants, with the jawdropping landscape of the Atlas Mountains in the distance, sit Heller’s imaginative sculptures. Ourika Valley Palais Badi Once incredibly lavish, with gold, marble and precious stone embellishments, the Palais Badi is now a majestic ruin of a palace with vast sunken gardens and multiple pools. The structures offer a glimpse of how the sultan and his family lived. Don’t miss the opulent minbar, the exquisite Muslim pulpit that took eight years to finish. Ksibat Nhass


Chabi Chic

33 Rue Majorelle: Concept store with expertly curated fashion and housewares, plus a juice bar. 33 Rue Yves Saint Laurent Akbar Delights: Stylish kaftans and Moroccaninfluenced fashion. Square Bab Fteuh Amina: Tunics, eclectic jewelry and Moroccaninspired home décor. 3 Rue Les Vieux Marrakchis Atelier Nihal: Home furnishings and avant-garde accessories.16 Rue des Vieux Marrakchis Aya’s: Hand-embroidered, custom-made kaftans. 11 Bis Derb Jdid Bab Mellah Beldi: Haute-couture velvet coats, hemstitched kaftans and loose linen shirts. 9-11 Soukiat Laksour Chabi Chic: ceramics, olive wood kitchen utensils and bath products. 510 Sidi Ghanem Jardin Majorelle: Vintage photos, colorful leather accessories, silk-embroidered pillows and unusual ceramics and jewelry. Rue Yves Saint Laurent Lalla & Lalla: Pretty handbags, jewelry and vintage Moroccan wares. 35 Mansour Eddahbi Maroc’n Roll: Moroccan-inspired bags and accessories. 9 Rue de Vieux Marrkchis Mustapha Blaoui: Irresistible treasures, including tables and chairs, glassware, mirrors, candlesticks, pots and bowls. 144 Arset Aouzal Rd

melissa’s travels

Favorite Finds: Marrakech In a city filled with vibrant markets, visitors should take time to sift through the treasures to be found here. Melissa Biggs Bradley shares her favorite finds that she never fails to pick up when in Marrakech.


This long, loose tunic is a staple of Middle Eastern attire. Originally worn by men, the kaftan became popular in Western fashion for both genders due to its effortless, easy comfort.


With a culture rooted in craftsmanship, Marrakech offers beautiful and intricate glassware—from tea sets to serving bowls— available with gorgeous, distinct designs.


Another favorite souvenir, Moroccan bowls are sold in every shape, size and design imaginable. Head to Chabi Chic (Rue Principale, 322) for the best selection of ceramics.


Leather babouche slippers are often decorated with bright colors, beads and embroidery. 33 Rue Majorelle has some of the best in the city. (33 Rue Yves Saint Laurent).



From antique wooden doors to studded leather side tables, mirrors and candlesticks, Marrakech offers a variety of distinct (and one-of-a-kind) home wares. The best can be found at Mustapha Blaoui (142–144 Arset Aouzale), and its owners can arrange international delivery. You might be tempted to bring home a shipping container’s worth.


destination report: atlas mountains


Clockwise: Kasbah Tamadot at night and a room interior; exploring the grounds of Kasbah Tamadot; tagines at a Berber market


A Rugged Paradise: Atlas Mountains

Many consider the most beautiful part of Morocco to be the High Atlas region, where snowcapped hills tower above Berber villages and a fairy-tale resort offers the ultimate escape.


he Atlas Mountains provide a wonderful window into the culture and beauty of Morocco’s countryside, where more than half of the population lives. The fertile slopes are dotted with terraced Berber villages of flatroofed, mud brick houses. Life moves at a slow pace, and the people revere both the family as well as hospitality to strangers. The region offers great hiking and climbing opportunities, including on Mount Toubkal, whose summit can be reached in an overnight trip. To experience all the region has to offer, plan to stay two nights, three if you want to take several excursions.


Stay Kasbah Tamadot Sir Richard Branson fell in love with this kasbah in the Atlas Mountains and transformed it into an authentic, if very luxurious, Moroccan retreat, with tented suites and a spa. All the bedrooms are done in traditional Moroccan and Bedouin style, furnished with antiques from around the world. The most luxurious are the ten Berber Tent Suites, many of which have private terraces, Jacuzzis, outdoor dining areas and roll-top baths positioned to take full advantage of the stunning Atlas Mountains views.

The property has one restaurant, Kanoun, offering relaxed fireside dining with both local and international menus plus a great selection of Moroccan wines. Guests can also eat under the stars on the roof or request a private picnic at one of the many spots around the hotel. Kasbah Tamadot plies visitors with plenty of activities, including tennis and cooking classes, as well as the Asounfou (Berber for “relaxation”) Spa, which has an indoor pool, five treatment rooms, a sauna and a traditional hammam. Read Indagare’s review.

See and Do The Atlas Mountains, with its gorgeous desert landscape and a delightfully isolated location, offer outdoor activities—from mule rides to mountain climbing to suit every adventurous taste. Local communities welcome visitors, giving them the opportunity to truly immerse themselves in the rich Berber culture. Walking, Hiking and Mule Riding The spectacular terrain presents a variety of hiking options, from low-intensity walks on dirt paths through scenic hills to more strenuous guided treks, often rewarded with panoramic


destination report: atlas mountains “Kasbah Tamadot is absolute perfection. We loved everything about it: staff, design, food, setting. You could send anyone here and they would love it. It’s a ten out of ten.” ~~Trousdale family, Indagare members since 2014

Clockwise from top left: a roadside scenic; a Berber market; the diverse topography of the Atlas Mountains


views. The two-day trek to the peak of Mount Toubkal, the highest in North Africa, passes through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Atlas range, like the stunning Omouzzer Waterfalls, and includes a village visit plus a night spent camping out in tents. Kasbah Tamadot can arrange mule rides and 4×4 excursions through the Ourika Valley to the Saffron Gardens, where it sources its beauty products.

Bird Watching and Wildlife Walks Walk or ride a mule through the gorgeous and unique Mizane and Image valleys with a birdwatching guide to spot wagtails, chaffinches, larks and birds of prey, finishing with a picnic lunch by the river in a village. Or travel farther afield to the Wirgane Valley to see the juniper forests, Atlas gazelles and Barbara sheep.

Berber Visits During a hike or mule ride, visitors may choose to visit a Berber village for tea and conversation with inhabitants. They can also take an excursion to the nearby Aremid Village, for an authentic Berber lunch served alfresco with views of Mount Toubkal, or to the small town of Asni, to visit its Saturday market.

Perched in the foothills south of Marrakech, Kasbah Tamadot sits isolated in the high Atlas Mountains with only a small Bedouin village nearby. Indagare can arrange a car and driver for the one-hour trip from the city, and travelers have the option of stopping along the way in the town of Ourika, home to a lovely local market, which provides a glimpse into daily life here.

Getting There



destination report: spotlight

Dar Ahlam

On the fringes of the Sahara, Dar Ahlam is a desert hideaway dream come true.


dations reflects the chic, eclectic style of the property, combining textiles from Paris and Marrakech with straw carpets from Mexico and wool rugs from Italy. Some bathrooms have colorful mosaics, while others have wood-burning fireplaces. A few of the suites come with outdoor terraces and plunge pools. All have sweeping views of the Atlas Mountains. The gracious staff specializes in arranging magical experiences. Each night, guests are ushered to a new dinner setting, such as a cozy alcove in the kasbah or a candlelit tent. The native-born chef has benefited from frequent collaborations with visiting French culinary stars, combining local ingredients and traditions with international savoir-faire. Each meal balances sophistication with an appreciation of


ar Ahlam (“House of Dreams” in Arabic) rises mirage-like out of the Sahara Desert in southern Morocco. This haven of luxury and style was the passion project of Frenchman Thierry Teyssier. Captivated by the 19th-century kasbah and the remote oasis, blessed with palms groves and olive trees, where it was situated, he embarked on a two-year restoration. The fortress façade remains, but interiors have been reimagined with bamboo ceilings and walls painted in striking hues. The décor blends the owner’s collection of global treasures with a mix of lanterns, carpets, paintings and tiles. With sophisticated Moroccan splendor and a host of activities, Dar Ahlam enchants guests in search of an authentic desert experience. The design of the 12 spacious accommo-


the rustic beauty of the surrounding landscape. Breakfast may include sliced kiwi or pomegranate from the garden with freshly baked breads, honeyed crêpes and sugared sponge cake. Lunch could be grilled chicken skewers or minced beef accompanied by carrot and fennel salad. The luxe kasbah sits on nine acres of lush gardens, which were designed by one of the landscape architects behind the Tuileries in Paris and are brimming with exotic flowers and fresh vegetables. Palm fronds shield a shimmering pool where guests can recline on loungers and be served poolside. For further relaxation, a salon and hammam offer indulging treatments. Beyond the walls of Dar Ahlam, the desert inhabited by Berbers and Bedouin stretches majestically in all directions. Treks by camel,

quad bike or 4×4 through the Valley of Roses end with a riverside picnic, and sunset may be celebrated with cocktails on a hilltop furnished with cushions and carpets. The landscape offers hiking as well as opportunities to experience village life with a Berber guide. Adventurous guests can opt to spend a night in the desert in an elegantly appointed tent under the stars. A true jewel in the desert, Dar Ahlam delivers impeccable luxury in a fairy-tale setting.

Getting There Ouarzazate airport is a 30-minute drive away, but flights are infrequent and often scheduled for odd hours. Most people charter planes or make the five-hour drive from Marrakech. Read Indagare’s review.

The kasbah-turnedhotel did not disappoint, offering acres of gardens; exquisite rooms, each decorated differently; a lovely spa; and the best food I’ve eaten in Morocco.


~Melissa Biggs Bradley


destination report: fez

Fez: Morocco’s Ancient City


Often overshadowed by the flashier Marrakech, the northern city of Fez has held onto its traditions and provides a purer vision of Morocco.



f Marrakech has become Westernized by the influx of Europeans looking for warmth and a bit of exoticism in winter, Fez remains the religious and cultural heart of the country. In its glory days, in the Middle Ages, Fez drew so many philosophers and intellectuals that it was known as the Athens of Africa. Today, Morocco’s third-largest city, with a population of 1 million, attracts many fewer tourists than Marrakech. Nevertheless, it boasts the world’s largest souk— comprising approximately 9,000 winding lanes—which dates to the Middle Ages and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its ancient monuments, some dating to the 9th century, and its ancient leather tanneries can be toured in a day, with another day dedicated to the Roman ruins of Volubis and the imperial city of Meknès.

Where to Stay Riad Fes This boutique property, located within the medina, transports guests to a sumptuous world filled with tiled courtyards, wooden arches and trickling fountains. The 30 rooms are done in four styles: opulent Moroccan, Oriental, Baracoandalous and contemporary. The pool and spa are great for unwinding. Read our review. Hotel Sahrai Located five minutes by car from the medina, this 50-room hotel is a contemporary, sleek retreat. The property is light and airy with open spaces styled in a traditional Moroccan aesthetic with a modern-minimalist twist. The Givenchy spa is a serene space clad in dark stone and mashrabiya panels. Read our review.

Where to Eat When in Fez, focus on traditional Moroccan cuisine, which combines Berber, Moorish and Arab influences in aromatic, spice-filled dishes.

Be aware that some restaurants are located in areas of the medina in which even locals are wary of walking at night, so before heading out, check with your guide. Dar Roumana Housed in an elegant riad in the medina, this restaurant serves a menu that combines Mediterranean and Moroccan elements into refined and delicious food. 30 Derb el-Amer Fez Café (Jardin des Biehn) This charming bistro is the passion project of well-known French chef Michel Biehn, who whips up dishes that mix Moroccan, French and Asian culinary influences. Tables, whether in the gardens, on the roof or inside, burst with color and local decorative details that reflect Biehn’s love of Morocco and his Provençal background. 13 Akbat Sbaa Douh L’Amandier Palais Faraj’s restaurant allows visitors to see the medina from above, serving traditional Fassi cuisine on the rooftop. The location lets diners partake in the medina’s nightlife without being in the thick of things. Bab Ziat, Quartier Ziat La Mezzanine This restaurant has lovely views of the medina from its rooftop tables. A good spot for lunch, it is also a favorite for drinks and a light dinner, being one of the few places in the medina where you can order beer or wine. 17 Ksbat Chams Palais Amani Restaurant For an elegant night, choose the set-menu dinner at the restaurant in the Palais Amani. The hotel does not generally allow non-guests to eat here, but Indagare can get tables for members. 12 Derb el Miter, Oued Zhoune


destination report: fez Chouara Tannery (below); one of the Seven Golden Gates to the Royal Palace

La Maison Bleue La Maison Bleue remains one of the most charming spots in Fez for a traditional meal. Housed in a 1915 building constructed for a famous judge and astrologer, it contains heirlooms and antiques. 2 Place de l’Ilatiqlal-Batha

What to See and Do Fez contains a number of cultural sights worth visiting, but touring the medina is the cannotmiss activity. It is the largest in North Africa, and parts of it date to the 9th century. The narrow streets provide ample entertainment and a true representation of Moroccan life, but it is truly maze-like, so it is best toured with a guide. Bab Bou Jeloud With ornate blue detailing and a powerful stone façade, the Moroccan-Andalusian-style Bab Bou Jeloud, also known as the Blue Gate, welcomes visitors into the city of Fez. Indagare Tour: Medina Exploration A local guide will show you the souk’s most important sights, hidden museums and charming squares. Depending on your interests, he or she can take you to watch silk weavers, dyers and metal workers ply their craft, perhaps including a visit to the tanneries or an herbalist. Indagare can arrange a customized tour. Indagare Tour: Culinary Exploration An excellent, and delicious, way to learn about Moroccan culture starts in the medina. A guide will lead you through the city picking up ingredients from local vendors before you go to a kitchen and learn ancient Moroccan cooking techniques. Contact Indagare to book. Voulibis, Moulay Idriss and Meknès The famous Roman ruins at Voulibis and Mou-


lay Idriss, a hilltop town founded by a descendant of Mohammed, both sit approximately one hour from Fez by car. The nearby imperial city of Meknès contains the mausoleum of 17thcentury ruler Moulay Ismail as well as his huge royal stables and the Museum of Moroccan Art. Chouara Tanneries These tanneries offer great insight into Morocco’s treasured traditional craft of leather makings. For those who don’t mind the strong odor, this beautiful building is a must-visit.

Shop Fez is the center of Moroccan craftsmanship. Visit the ateliers of weavers and metalworkers and, of course, tanneries, in the souk to learn how the objects in the stores are made. We recommend hiring a local guide to help you navigate the various artisans’ areas and negotiate prices.

Palais Quaraouiyine At Palais Quaraouyine, housed in an exquisitely restored riad, the owners sell intricately woven Moroccan and Berber rugs. Enjoy tea and learn about Moroccan heritage through its textile traditions. 91 -77 Sbitryenne Argan Abdou Bio This cooperative, run and operated by women, produces and sells argan-based beauty products in different scents. 148 Guerniz, Sidi Moussa Herboristerie Seddik This beautiful shop sells herbs, oils, essences and all sorts of traditional beauty products, as well as medicinal plants and flower extracts. 15 Chouara Hay Labilda L’Art Mauresque Located in the medina, this three-story boutique sells one-of-a-kind antiques and home

furnishings featuring hand-carved wood, delicate silver trim and mother-of-pearl inlay. The English-speaking owner is helpful and can guide shoppers through his trove. Les Mystères de Fe This store is filled with authentic, high-quality furnishings collected from Syria, Turkey, India and other countries worldwide. 53 Derb Bin Lemsarri Fes Medina Terrasse de Tannerie This labyrinthine shop is filled with leather goods. From its terrace, you can watch leather hides being treated in the tanneries. 10 Hay Labilda Chouara Book this trip with a Fez specialist. Contact the Indagare Team: | 212-988-2611


destination report: last word

Morocco’s Details


The magic of Morocco is often found in its unique, exquisite details— from the masterful tile work of a palace to the intricate patterns of a teacup. This complex, harmonic design is what delights and dazzles visitors; taking a closer look, there is always more to discover.


Indagare on Morocco

Indagare staffers expound upon what they love most about the magical country, from market shopping to camel trekking.

“I’m forever transformed by the unwavering faith of the country and the devotion of its people, from whom I learned the true meaning of “Inshallah.” ~Indagare’s Diana Li

Spending time in Fez, I was immersed into the traditions and energy of the country. Moroccans consider Fez their spiritual and intellectual capital, and there is an authenticity there that informed the rest of my time traveling through Morocco.”

“Morocco remains one of my favorite destinations as it offers the comforts of a sophisticated European destination with the thrill of an exotic locale, brimming with color and life.” ~Indagare’s Annabelle Moehlmann


~Indagare’s Lizzie McGirr

“The ornamentation in Morocco is a feast for the eyes. On every surface, from sprawling mosque walls to the faces of a tiny necklace pendants, the vibrant colors and intricate patterns are captivating.”

“The spirited marketplaces in Berber villages, filled with stalls proffering tagines and dried fruits, combined with Atlas Mountains rising in the background, is a perfect example of the country’s diverse landscapes and lifestyles”

~Indagare’s Emily Pariseau

~Indagare’s Emma Pierce

“Whether tea with a Berber family or a visit with a nomadic cave tribe, Morocco allowed for eye opening experiences without compromising comfort.” ~Indagare’s Sasha Feldman


“If you have one day to spend in Morocco, spend it in Marrakech…it’s the most lovely spot in the world.”

To purchase back issues of the Indagare Magazine ($15 apiece), send an email to or call 212-988-2611. Copyright © 2016 Indagare Travel, Inc. All rights reserved. Quotation, reproduction or transmission by any means is strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher.



~Winston Churchill

Best of Morocco  

Indagare's guide to the best of Morocco.

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