Les Borjs de la Kasbah – Seven Years On
Last month saw the seventh anniversary of the opening of Les Borjs de la Kasbah. This was the culmination of a project, much bigger than originally planned and three years in the making, to convert one riad and six other, smaller properties into the single hotel unit we have today.
In July 2007 the swimming pool (one of very few in the Kasbah) and spa were added to the bedrooms to complete what had been, for us, a labour of love.
But the BK project didn’t end there because since first opening our doors to guests in November 2006 we have followed a seemingly endless schedule of improvements and general maintenance with the aim of keeping our small hotel among the best in its class in the highly competitive environment that is Marrakech. We are proud to have been recognised, over the years, for the quality of our services by a number of awards from Expedia and Trip Advisor (their latest being a Certificate of Excellence earlier this year) based on the assessments of their reviewers. However, not content to rest on our laurels, we have undertaken this continuous programme of improvement and updating to ensure that visitors in future years will have as good an experience as most visitors seem to have enjoyed over the past seven. Because nothing matters more to us than what our customers think of Les Borjs we have produced some statistics from recent questionnaires to show how we are measuring up to our own goals. (See ‘What Our Guests Say’, below).
This newsletter is intended to keep you abreast of developments at Les Borjs de la Kasbah and Marrakech itself with a variety of news items including profiles of some of our 25 staff, several of whom have been with us since the opening day, and details of special offers of various kinds, including our brand new Themed Breaks packages.
Whether you are contemplating a return visit or will be a first timer to Marrakech we hope this newsletter will be of interest. We visit the hotel regularly from our home in the UK so perhaps we may have the pleasure of meeting you there.
Mike and Francoise Bruce-Mitford
Les Borjs de la Kasbah – What Our Guests Say
Having spent 35 years as tour operators in the UK, Mike and Francoise, owners of Les Borjs, are only too aware of the importance of customer feedback. Throughout their time in the travel business their policy was always to obtain as much feedback as possible from customers by inviting them to rate the quality of service provided by their tour operator and to assess its hotels under numerous headings from ‘welcome’ to ‘checkout’. Unusually, the results were subsequently published in the company’s annual brochure. At Les Borjs we do the same and, although questionnaire numbers are much smaller, the monthly analysis is no less valuable. Although we don’t expect to meet the expectations of every single visitor in every respect we certainly aim to do so. Allowing for the vagaries of subjectivity, particularly noticeable in such categories as cuisine, the scores are encouraging even if, as always, there is some room for improvement here or there. But the most satisfying figures of all are those in response to the question: “would you recommend Les Borjs?” to which respondents over the past year have given an emphatic 4.9 out of 5. These are the average scores from the hotel’s customer questionnaires for the 11 months to the end of November 2013 in the essential categories. In most respects they closely mirror the ratings given on review sites such as Trip Advisor and Expedia. Our questionnaire scores are shown out of a maximum 5 in each case.
Reception – 4.8
Rooms* – 4.8
Breakfast – 4.7
Cuisine – 4.5
Service – 4.8
Pool area – 4.7
Spa – 4.9
Overall impression – 4.9
Would you recommend – 4.9
*includes comfort, appointments, lighting, bathroom towels and daily housekeeping
Just starting in Agadir and Marrakech as we write is the 10th running of this annual competition for seven of the world’s top football clubs. Featured within this elite group are the immediate past champions of the six continental confederations as well as the league winner (Raja Casablanca) of this year’s host nation, Morocco. The final stages of the competition will be held at the brand new stadium of Marrakech, on the outskirts of town.
The 13th edition of this increasingly important 9-day annual event has just drawn to a close after another successful celebration of the medium of cinema. The international jury, presided over by Martin Scorsese, this year included Marion Cotillard (best known for her memorable, Oscar winning portrayal of Edith Piaf) and other industry luminaries from as far afield as South Korea, India and Mexico. A major feature of this year’s festival was the tribute to Scandinavian Cinema acknowledging the contributions of past masters (Bergman, Garbo, Max von Sydow and Bo Widerberg) and contemporary talents such as Tomas Alfredson (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) and Lasse Hallstrom. The venues for the festival, at which dozens of films, both features and shorts, were shown and workshop events held, were the Palais des Congrès, three cinemas around town and, not least, the Place Jemaa el Fna where films were projected onto giant screens for free public viewing.
January 26th 2014 sees the 25th running of one of the longest-established marathons in the calendar. Under the patronage of King Mohammed VI, the event attracts some 5000 athletes from countries around the world, the best of them from Kenya and Ethiopia, both for the appeal of the circuit itself, one of the flattest and fastest of them all, but for the perfect marathon running conditions in temperatures typically around 20°. The course takes in numerous historic sites and landmarks including the ramparts surrounding the ancient medina and the orange and olive groves of the Menara Gardens.
This is a unique, multi-activity event involving no fewer than five sporting disciplines. More a trial of sporting versatility than a race like the Marrakech marathon, it is undertaken by enthusiasts from all walks of life, entered in pairs, drawn to the prospect of an outdoor challenge over a variety of different terrains.
The objective is to cross the Atlas Mountains in five stages, from south to north, by mountain bike, trekking, orienteering, canoeing and running amid some of the most outstanding natural scenery in Morocco. Covering a total distance of some 250 km prior to the finishing line in Marrakech, this is a pretty tough circuit but the emphasis is on having fun and enjoying the surroundings rather than finishing first. Find out more HERE.
Earlier this year a range of menus for the Spring and Summer seasons was introduced to our hotel’s ‘Le Jasmine’ restaurant by our young chef, Hussein Id Ahmed.
Having joined Les Borjs in January 2011 as commis chef, Hussein rapidly proved his worth and in January this year he was given his chance to take full charge of the kitchen. His first job was to produce new dishes for the Moroccan and European à la carte menus as well as around a dozen, daily-changing, half-board menus and a range of lighter meals served to residents at the poolside bar.
Here are some examples, among many others, of the tempting dishes to be found in our ‘Le Jasmin’ restaurant at present: Sea bass tagine with vegetables and olive m’charmal, Berber style; a Timbale dish of prawns and shrimps with purée of lemon-infused avocado and a pear-almond salsa; Stuffed beef roll cooked with thyme; Clove-flavoured duck breast garnished with young vegetables; Pastilla mille feuille with pineapple and honey cream. And there’s plenty more where these dishes come from!
To judge by recent satisfaction ratings of 90% customers seem to approve of Hussein’s blend of traditional French and Moroccan cuisine (see “What our Guests Say”, above).
Attractive offers such as 4 nights for the price of 3 and/or 7 for 5 are regularly featured on our website. A residents’ reduction of 20% off Spa prices has also been featured recently. However, this month sees the introduction of an offer with an exceptional difference in the form of our Themed Breaks
If you’d be interested, while in Marrakech, to learn something of the secrets of Moroccan cuisine, enjoy some fascinating excursions into the Atlas and further afield or, perhaps, you just fancy a spot of pampering in our spa, why not take a look at the outstanding deals available right now at Les Borjs? Taking the form of themed breaks, each 4-night stay includes either spa treatments, excursions or cookery classes or a combination of all three. We even have a Romance package for that special occasion. All these packages can be yours at no additional cost beyond our standard B&B prices. With the value of each theme being between 2150 and 2550 dirhams this is an offer not to be missed! Check out our Themed Breaks right here.
If you fancy learning something of the secrets of Moroccan cuisine you might like to join one of our informal cookery courses which our cheerful young chef, Hussein, being fluent in French and with a good grounding in English, is well placed to conduct. Each hands-on course, available on demand, concentrates on a single three-course menu, chosen from a range of options including dishes such as Chicken tagine with red onions and raisins, Fes style, and beef or lamb couscous. Each course takes around three hours and the results of one’s labours can be enjoyed at lunch time. To judge by the rating of 90% for ‘Quality of Food’ awarded by Hussein’s diners during his first 11 months in the job, our cookery classes would seem to be in good hands.
When Les Borjs opened in 2007 there were just three golf courses in Marrakech. There are now no fewer than 8 of them, all designed by some of the best-known names in golf, such as Jack Nicklaus, Kyle Phillips and Colin Montgomerie. Most are situated within 10 minutes of Les Borjs de la Kasbah. If you’d like to consider Marrakech as a destination for your own golf club members or society then please get in touch. We can organise the whole event from booking tee times to transfers, lunches and the prize giving dinner. Drop an e-mail to Tom Bruce-Mitford at email@example.com
Although weather in many parts of northern Europe has been unusually severe of late temperatures in Marrakech in the middle of the Moroccan winter are positively balmy by comparison, as a quick look at the weather stats on our website will confirm. During December and January maximum average daily temperatures vary between 18 and 20° with monthly sunshine hours being over 220 (7 hours per day). Average monthly rainfall is a modest 30mm (and this is the start of the rainy season!), although this year it looks like being somewhat less. Indeed, much of southern Morocco is in dire need of a good soaking although when rain does come (inch ‘allah) it tends not to last too long and soon the sun is out again. Evenings are chilly in Marrakech at this time of year (usually around 5-8 degrees) so a woolly is advisable although, during the day, the sun’s warmth makes for a lovely contrast with what you’ll find in most of Europe right now! http://www.lesborjsdelakasbah.com/weather-marrakech.html
Some Moroccan faces you may recognise!
If you’ve already visited us at Les Borjs de la Kasbah you will probably recognise most of our longer serving staff, pictured here, many of whom have been with us for at least five years, if not from the opening day. One especially key member of the team actually joined us before the opening, our Director, Abdelaziz Tayeb, a professional with some 25 years experience in the hotel business. Among those with whom hotel guests have most contact are our Receptionists, Nora and Ilham (not pictured). They are relative newcomers but, in the restaurant, Fatima and Mounia will be even more familiar to the increasing numbers of repeat visitors as will Fatima (the other one) and Sofia, two of our first-class chambermaids, all of whom have worked at Les Borjs since the very early days.
Left to right: Hasna & Fatiha (Spa), Jihane (Reservations), Abdelmoula (commis chef), M. Tayeb (director), Abdelouahed (kitchen assistant), Mounia & Fatima (Restaurant/Bar), Sofia & Fatima (Housekeeping)