April 2006by Suzanne Goulart
Tuesday brought another beautiful day in paradise. Started the day by visiting the most remote villa that Federico offers, LIV DRA, located in Lia Bay in the eastern part of the island. Traditional Mykonian design throughout: stylish, comfortable, fantastic bathrooms, views, great lap pool with jets, excellent privacy. About a 20-minute drive to town. For the client who really wants to get away from it all. No AC.
LIV GRA was next, which is close to Agios Ioannis beach. This spacious villa is great for large groups, with 4 bedrooms in the main house & another 2 bedrooms in the guest house. Amply-sized pool (with steps), great views of Delos and the sunset. Basic but comfortable furnishings, lots of sitting areas, good location - close to town.
The last 2 villas I saw were in the Agrari Beach area, convenient for families or groups who want to be close to a beach with watersports and a taverna. Federico's family villa, Infinity, was in the process of having work done, yet still looked fantastic: stylish, artistic, colorful, well furnished, and very private. Next was Agrari Beach House, an excellent 4-bedroom choice for small families. Consists of a main & guest house. Close to beach, child-friendly, ocean views & BBQ area. Not extravagant, but comfortable.
That was all the time I had for my Greek Odyssey - packed up and headed to the airport for a 7:45 p.m. Olympic flight to Athens. Less than an hour later, I was at the Sofitel Hotel, directly across from the airport - very convenient. Hopped on a bus for the Plaka and dinner at "The Byzantine". Food OK, great location for people-watching. A quick shop, then hotel bound.
Wednesday: early wake-up call (5:30 a.m.) for my 8:00 flight to London. Four hours later, I was in London, and after a long layover (and a stop in Casablanca to refuel), I touched down in Marrakech, one of the most fascinating cities of the Islamic world. After spending an hour going through Customs, I caught a shuttle bus to La Mamounia, a luxurious Old World hotel in the heart of town, just a 5-minute walk from the Medina and the souks (the markets). This hotel is perfect for our clients who are looking for authentic charm, great service, and a lot of amenities. Had dinner at the hotel's French restaurant (their other 2 restaurants are Moroccan & Italian) where I had a table outside by their famous garden.
On Thursday after breakfast, Widad Charki from Villas of Morocco picked me up to transfer me to Riyad Charai, my home for the next 3 nights (a riyad is a traditional home). The property was located deep inside the Medina, the old walled section of Marrakech, where time has stood still for over 1000 years. I've never experienced anything quite like this before: narrow, winding streets filled with donkey carts transporting all kinds of goods, chador-clad women, tiny fruit stands everywhere (some people just selling a few potatoes trying to make a living), children playing in the alleys (no GameBoys in sight!), exotic wares being sold from every corner-quite a lively street scene. Upon opening the door at Riyad Charai, I left it all behind, stepping into a peaceful haven. This home was beautiful, with an open courtyard filled with orange and jasmine trees, an inviting pool, tiled floors, a birdbath filled with rose petals, and lots of outdoor seating with gorgeous fabrics. There was a very well-equipped kitchen & living area with satellite TV, 5 bedrooms, a spa (hamman) and rooftop terrace overlooking the minarets of the old city. Also a staff of 5 who couldn't have been more accommodating.
After touring the Riyad and choosing my room, I took a seat in the courtyard and had mint tea, which was served with delicious Moroccan pastries - very civilized!
Abdul, who worked on the staff at Riyad Charai, later escorted me to the souks for a little shopping. This famous marketplace area of Marrakech is filled with snake charmers, monkeys, acrobats - you name it. Everyone should experience this! Being so close to the mosque, I heard the muezzin (person who calls the faithful to prayer) from the minaret, which is the tall tower of the mosque. This occurs several times a day. Enjoyed a roast chicken & vegetable dinner with Stella and Dalia, 2 of the other women staying at Riyad Charia, Afterwards, we joined the rest of the group for cocktails at the Jad Mahal restaurant. Youssef Benamour, owner of Villas of Morocco, was there along with several other members of his agency, including Eloise Keenan and Widad. About 20 agents and journalists were there as well, participating in this fam trip.
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