A new riad opening in Fez is always an occasion for celebration. Even more so, when the building has been restored from a precarious state. The house in question also stands first in line in the Unesco listing, featuring the 100 houses most worth protecting in the Medina. Sandy McCutcheon reports for The View from Fez.
Now, blessed with a new name -"Mayfez" - started life at the end of the 14th century, when it was constructed by the mother of Pacha Tazi. Since then the house has been owned by many different people but was eventually left empty and abandoned. One of the ten biggest houses in the Fez Medina, and the only one featuring a "colonial" style building, the house, The colonial house was the first one to be built in the Medina with bathtubs and central heating. It is now set to enter a new era.
Given that the area of the land is 1400 square metres, the process of restoring the buildings was a massive task Some were so damaged that grass was growing in the debris including on the first floor. Digging the pool and the machinery area took three months of human labour. Nine donkeys were used all night long during this time to dispose of 500 bags of sand every night.
An adjacent house house, now the Carita Spa, was used by neighbours to throw their garbage from their terrace. In more glorious days, this area was the owner’s harem.
The name, Mayfez, is inspired by Mayfair area in London, were we lived for 7 years. We wanted our English speaking guests to feel at ease, as if they were home, but in a Riad of the city of Fez.
|The central courtyard and pool are stunningly beautiful|
At the beginning of next month an extraordinary five years of painstaking renovation and restoration will come to an end. The interior design work by Dominique Laraqui has been superbly completed and Mayfez will be open for business.
|The interior design by Dominique Laraqui is superb|
The View from Fez asked Moulay Laraqui why he had bought the house and undertaken such a massive renovation.
Moulay: After a career in finance in both London and Paris we bought the house in 2007 planning to renovate it and to use it as a family retreat for holidays and week-ends away from the stressful hustle and bustle of city life, although since then the plans for our family and the possibilities for the house have changed and expanded.
The scale of refurbishment that Mayfez required over the last few years has been considerable, especially when you realise that there is 2400 square yards of inhabited space as well as almost half an acre of land - probably three to four times the size of a regular Riad. After the works were finally finished in 2011 we decided to share our beautiful house, and have made the decision to welcome guests.
We offer one tea room, two bars, two restaurants, one Institut Carita beauty centre and five luxury suites. Access to the hotel is strictly restricted to its guests only and as we are living on site we will be personally taking care of our guests.
Mayfez is the smallest and most exclusive luxury Riad in Fez, and possibly the whole of Morocco. We therefore strive to offer a fully personalised service assuring our guests that we will put all of our time, good will, and know-how into trying to offer the “impossible”.
Expected opening: The weekend of the 6th of April