“I had based my sense of being in the world partly on an unreasoned conviction that certain area’s of the earth’s surface contained more magic than others. Had anyone asked me what I meant by magic, I should have defined the word by calling it a secret connection between the world of nature and the consciousness of man, a hidden but direct passage that bypassed the mind” – Paul Bowles (1926) Morocco’s celebrated expatriate author
I have been saving the best chapter of our Moroccan fairy tale for last….our magnificent and magical visit to the Moroccan desert. Overwhelmed with choices on where to book our sunset dinner and camel ride, I looked to the amazing concierge at La Mamounia who provided the perfect destination…La Pause.
Located just 20 miles outside of Marrakech, in what the ancients called “Desert Marrakchi,” La Pause is set on a hill amongst a cool oasis bordered by a river with breahtaking views across the Moroccan wilderness. Designed to be a place where guests “pause” and take in the supernatural surrounding beauty, our group felt an overwhelming sense of fulfillment to be able to experience this paradise. We planned our desert excursion to take place mid week which serendipitously landed on “Hump Day.”
After five days in Morocco, all of our expectations had been exceeded and every unique experience we had seemed to be even better than the one before. Taking a “pause” in the middle of the trip to reflect on what we had seen and anticipate what lied ahead made the rest of our trip even sweeter. Tears of joy were shed riding the camels at sunset and tears of gratitude were shed as we dined by candlelight in a Berber tent with a zillion stars overhead.
Looking back on the trip, it was certainly a “pause” for all of us from our everyday lives. Taking a break from our routine allowed us to fully soak in the Moroccan inspiration, stimulate our creative juices, and in the future apply what we learned to our respective design practices. Even more so, the magic and graciousness of the Moroccan people affected us in a deeply spiritual way. The call to prayer five times a day and ending almost every sentence in “Ench Allah” or “God Willing” was a constant reminder to give ourselves up to a higher being. I think this will be the most poignant lesson from our pilgrimage….to pause and allow time in each day express gratitude, give thanks, and approach every thought and action with “God Willing.”
More about La Pause below…
Located on an oasis amid the reddish Agafay Desert, La Pause was born when eccentric French fortysomething Frédéric Alaime came horse-riding by over a decade ago. Alaime liked the spot so much that he immediately leased it from the resident Berber farmer; the modern-day result is a rustic eco-resort with activities aplenty and a pool, but no electricity and scarcely any mobile reception. Instead, snoozing, stargazing and staring into space are the order of the day.
Framed by olive trees and colorful hammocks, the filtered pool borders an organic garden which contributes rocket, alfalfa, grapes and olive oil to the resort’s delicious Berber cuisine.
Meals can be taken alfresco on terraces, or cross-legged on cushions inside tents where Gnaoua musicians play. A small massage-offering hammam and quirky boutique provide additional distraction.
Built using beautiful thick pisé (traditional mud-and-straw), La Pause’s stark, stylish lodges are atmospherically illuminated by candles and oil lamps. Each has a huge bed, a strong shower, low sofas, rugs and cushions, plus fireplaces and a patio sun-lounger for morning mint teas. Alternatively, ‘glamp’ in a spacious Bedouin tent with foam mattresses and open-air showers.
The list of available activities includes quad-bike rides, horse treks, mountain-biking, guided camel rides, cooking classes and calligraphy lessons. There’s also a short ‘cross-country’ golf course, designed into the desert and more akin to crazy golf.