International Women's Day may be over for this year, but before moving on, The View from Fez would like to pay tribute to a couple of extraordinary women in Fez who are transforming the way visitors experience Morocco. The dynamic duo - Michele Reeves and Gail Leonard - run Plan-it Fez.
|The Dynamic Duo - Gail and Michele|
The company offers, as they put it, "a new world of sensory experiences in the old world of Fez". Reaching far beyond the traditional tourist offerings, their mission is to allow visitors to ‘live’ the experiences the ancient city has to offer, by connecting them to the magic of the culture and local people. Passionate about sharing their discoveries, they’ve created experiences that let visitors taste, smell, feel and hear Morocco rather than merely seeing it.
The Plan-it Fez HQ involves two business partners, two laptops, three telephones, an assistant and a massive helping of vision. The company founders are both working mums. Michele Reeves is Australian, Gail Leonard hails from Britain and between them they have racked up an impressive fifteen years of success in the tourism industry and eight years residency in Fez.
Combing parenting and business is not always easy, but as Michele explains, "After a sprinkling of cornflakes and social media updates, getting the kids organised and off to school, taking the baby down from the table and handing over to her nanny… we’re ready for a day at the office."
What is immediately apparent when talking to Gail and Michele is their enthusiasm for Fez and it was their love of the city that brought about their business partnership.
"We want to inspire ourselves by what we do just as much as wanting to inspire others to enjoy their stay here." Gail explains, "Both of us have felt that every day living in Fez is an adventure. It can be a challenging place to live but with magical moments in abundance."
"Gail discovering the joys of eating stuffed camel spleen, or for me, learning to distill my own orange blossom water and scented clays for the hammam with my sisters-in law are things that remind me of the privilege of living in such a special place," Michele says. "It’s a reminder too, that an understanding of age-old traditions and the contact it brings with the amazing people here, takes time and respect and an open mind."
Michele and Gail hope they can create a ‘short-cut’ for visitors by opening up ‘their’ Fez.
They do get to put their glad-rags and high heels on for their networking trips with high-profile travel agents, but on the whole their business focus is the Fez Medina which means sturdy footwear and sensible clothes.
The energy generated by these two women is an inspiration. I am about to ask where they get their energy from when Michele glances at her watch and with a quick wave goodbye, grabs her coat and keys... it’s time for the school run again!
For more information on Plan-it Fez use these links