Hotel Review: Kasbah Angour

Place: Kasbah Angour, Tahanaout, Nr. Marrakech, Morocco
Type: 4-star Hotel
Operator: Owner and Creator Paul Foulsham
Web: www.Kasbahangour.com
Date of Visit: March 2019

A man with a dream – no, a Yorkshireman with a dream. A geologist working for oil companies buys a barren hill some 40 kilometres outside Marakech and starts to create an oasis, an idyll, a garden on its top. ‘Kasbah’, so the taxi driver tells us, means castle, and the architectural form strongly reinforces the name – or is it that the name reinforces the perception of the architecture? Either way the name is reinforced by the winding track up from the road outside the provincial town of Tahanaout leading to a blank walled car park through which entrance is made, almost like a defensive castle entrance.

Reception desk

Yorkshiremen think of their home county as ‘Gods own country’, but here the owner has created almost his own Garden of Eden in Morocco, shielded completely from prying eyes by the way the architecture works with the location. It achieves a privacy for guest the nearby Richard Branson property notably fails to achieve. Rooms tune their backs onto the valley in the most part, turning instead towards the glorious gardens and the snow-capped peaks of the Atlas Mountains not too far away. Those same snow-capped peaks provide a steady supply of water from the hotels own bore hole, control of which ensures exclusivity on this hill top.
Currently just 26 bedrooms, the owner has almost completed purchase of the rest of the whole hilltop and talks of growing to 50+ rooms with maybe an indoor pool and a spa operation. Meanwhile he personally supervises the operation of the existing romantic property having fought his way through three architects to realise his vision. Bedrooms make a semi-circle around the garden and use stone and building techniques recognisable locally. Based on local materials and furnished with locally manufactured products his interiors reflect the Moroccan traditions of carpets and hard floors, stonework, polished plaster and shuttered windows.
A couple of suites provide the towers that punctuate the bedrooms, most of which have individual balconies and patio areas. All open onto the gardens, and oasis of green full of bird and insect life. Certainly, it is the first hotel I have been in where I have been kissed by a butterfly – I say kissed but I think it was an alcoholic butterfly wanting the beer off my lips, but it sure beat kissing the blarney stone…

This is an hotel for relaxation and contemplation with nature. Rooms are free of television, but there is the internet for those who feel discombobulated by the idea of simply listening to the cuckoo call, or simply relaxing on a terrace or by the pool in the quiet of the gardens. There are excursions into the mountains to a local souk or to take tea in a village house, guided walks, camel treks or for those who miss the noise and bustle of the city, an easy taxi ride into Marakech.
For me waking each morning to birdsong together with the ability to just sit and relax in the warmth of the March sun (22° to 29°C whilst I was there) was enough. Bird life is a mix of African and European, and the garden, said another guest, reminded of the winelands of South Africa, and the Moroccan wine on offer was very quaffable too. Food was local, vegetables from the hotel garden (the broad bean is a major local crop, as are of course, oranges although they don’t make marmalade…)
I didn’t intend to write a Review of this hotel – spent enough time doing hotel reviews I my life, but the charm of the spaces and their use of the local vernacular as well as their African feel led to me to write about it again. That an individual can create such a little gem with his own efforts (he even created his own building company) deserves approbation and applause. Yorkshire it is not. God own country? Well its different but maybe this Garden of Eden has a stronger claim to that label than much of our English county.

 

De Correspondent – Dutch Journalists’ Crowd Funding Success

De Correspondent Logo

De Correspondent – Dutch News Crowd Funding Success

We all know the paper press is in Dire circumstances. To Paywall or not to Paywall your content? What about the Paper Guidebooks apparently going down the drain now that Google has announced to ditch the paper Frommers Guidebooks. What will happen with the Lonely Planet Guidebooks? We all know there is an ongoing battle between Travel Journalists, Travel Writers Travel News sections of paper press and so on and so forth.

The more refreshing is the outcome of this experiment:

Target met within 8 days

De Correspondent- First Masthead
Only 8 days ago a group of Dutch reasonably known journalists, column writers and bloggers (see the above picture of their first “masthead”) teamed up and launched a membership site De Correspondent with the intention to source 15,000 members who solely based on the good name of the founders and a promise to start an alternative only online news presence, without a very clearcut idea of the form or the content….

Within 8 days more that 15.000 Dutchman have signed up and have paid their membership fee and the number is fast going up and counting (at the moment of publsihing this post the counter shows 15.239.

Very interesting to see how this experiment will go on.

Update

The final number of members after 30 days:
correspondent_counter_end_result

Counter copied from their blog post.

Lola Lo-Lo-Lo-Lo Lola – Not what you Think!

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See this Quirky Bicycle?

Rather than resting on its side standard or a back standard, it rests on its front standard in front of a shop in The Noordeinde in The Hague.

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Lola?

Off course when I hear or see “Lola” I associate that immediately with the famous Kinks song “Lola“, but this is not about that Lola and maybe I’m too old for you to remember this;-)

The name of the shop is Lola Bikes and Coffee soon daringly being opened officially in the posh Noordeinde in The Hague directly opposite the Lion’s Den of the huge Dutch coffee brand Douwe Egberts.

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A Combined Bicycle Show Room and Coffee Bar

The owners of a bicycle rental shop a couple of houses away from this new shop have taken the initiative to combine renting bicycles with selling extraordinary nice new bicycles while serving coffee in a trendy bar and also combined with the repair shop in the back of the bar. Clever and daring. I wish them a lot of success!

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Coming Soon

They’ve issue a trendy Bicycle magazine already. Their web presence is limited to a FB page for the moment but will come soon. I had a feeling the owner (left) was discussing the website with the designer….and through the window you can just see the coffee Goliath’s name (Soon to be divested from Sara Lee).

Steve according to Guy

Steve Jobs Apple Logo
Borrowed from Jonathan Mak

I’m not an Apple fan

From years on I’m reasonable versed with computers.

At university I was the only law student who did some programming on a mini (then the name for a mini sized mainframe) computer. You know how? By feeding punch cards with program lines to a card reader. One error and you had to change one card, stick it correctly in the stack and wait your turn when 20 other students were waiting their turn to process their stacks.

Commodore PET

For me Personal Computing started with playing around with a Commodore PET.

I use Windows pc’s. I’m not a Mac lover. I’ve occasionally looked at Apple, but time after time decided to stay with windows, even if CTRL ALT DEL is my most used key combination. Occasionally I’ve even tried to load a PC with Linux in various tastes, but time after time decided to stay with Windows…

My main aversion is Apple is too expensive and too closely controlled to my taste. I rather tinker a bit:-)

However, I have to admit I have an Ipod and very recently an IPad as well. The Ipad I bought mainly to try and get my Dear Wife involved with e-mail and Skype….

But even the Ipod proves my point: rather than sorting throught my collection with ITunes I sort my music with MediaMonkey

But

That doesn’t mean I don’t respect Steve Jobs who passed away last week.

Who better to quote than Guy Kawasaki, the once Macintosh Evangelist who has closely worked together with Steve before he went on his own?

Steve Jobs teached us a lesson or two – 12 according to Guy, but he might be a bit biased.

Guy Kawasaki Steve Jobs Apple Logo

Following I saw on Guy’s Google+ account where he copied it from his blog:

Experts are clueless.

Experts as journalists, analysts, consultants, bankers, and other “gurus” can’t “do” so they “advise.” They can tell you what is wrong with your product, but they cannot make a great one. They can tell you how to sell something, but they cannot sell it themselves. They can tell you how to create great teams, but they only manage a secretary.

I do second that. As a former consultant I know that is also the case with services!

Customers cannot tell you what they need.

“Apple market research” is an oxymoron. The Apple focus group was the right hemisphere of Steve’s brain talking to the left one. If you ask customers what they want, they will tell you, “Better, faster, and cheaper” that is, better sameness, not revolutionary change. They can only describe their desires in terms of what they are used to….

around the time of the introduction of Macintosh, all people said they wanted was better, faster, and cheaper MS-DOS machines. The richest vein for tech startups is creating the product that you want to use—that’s what Steve and Woz did.

Big wins happen when you go beyond better sameness. The best daisy-wheel printer companies were introducing new fonts in more sizes. Apple introduced the next curve: laser printing. Think of ice harvesters, ice factories, and refrigerator companies. Ice 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0. Are you still harvesting ice during the winter from a frozen pond?

My guests appreciate what I stand for only after they have experienced my hotel and our services. Both are beyond expectations.

Design counts.

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

Which is a quote from Steve himself. See for other valuable quotes: Quotations Page.

Changing your mind is a sign of intelligence.

When Apple first shipped the iPhone there was no such thing as apps. Apps, Steve decreed, were a bad thing because you never know what they could be doing to your phone. Safari web apps were the way to go until six months later when Steve decided, or someone convinced Steve, that apps were the way to go—but of course. Duh! Apple came a long way in a short time from Safari web apps to “there’s an app for that.”

“Value” is different from “price.”

Woe unto you if you decide everything based on price. Even more woe unto you if you compete solely on price. Price is not all that matters—what is important, at least to some people, is value. And value takes into account training, support, and the intrinsic joy of using the best tool that’s made. It’s pretty safe to say that no one buys Apple products because of their low price.

Real CEOs demo.

Steve Jobs could demo a pod, pad, phone, and Mac two to three times a year with millions of people watching, why is it that many CEOs call upon their vice-president of engineering to do a product demo? Maybe it’s to show that there’s a team effort in play. Maybe. It’s more likely that the CEO doesn’t understand what his/her company is making well enough to explain it. How pathetic is that?

Real CEOs ship.

For all his perfectionism, Steve could ship. Maybe the product wasn’t perfect every time, but it was almost always great enough to go. The lesson is that Steve wasn’t tinkering for the sake of tinkering—he had a goal: shipping and achieving worldwide domination of existing markets or creation of new markets. Apple is an engineering-centric company, not a research-centric one. Which would you rather be: Apple or Xerox PARC?

Marketing boils down to providing unique value.

Look at it this way:

Top left: unique and valuable—this is where you make margin, money, and history. For example, the iPod was unique and valuable because it was the only way to legally, inexpensively, and easily download music from the six biggest record labels.

Thank you Steve and Guy