The newest five star hotel in Fez officially opened on Monday November 17. Hotel Sahrai is the vision of co-owner Anis Sefrioui, and fulfils a life long dream
|Hotel Sahrai's manager, Guillaume Binder, and co-owner Anis Sefrioui|
"When I was growing up in Fez, there was a old house on this site, with arcades. I always dreamed to build a hotel here," says Anis Sefrioui.
He was speaking at the opening of the Hotel Sahrai, last night, which was attended by a selected coterie of invited guests, including Moroccan Minister for Tourism Lahcen Haddad.
"We want Fez to be a high end cultural destination," said Mr Haddad. "This hotel is part of that, but we need more like it. It's an excellent mix of traditional Islamic design and is very modern also, with a wonderful view of the Medina."
|Moroccan Minister for Tourism Lahcen Haddad|
It took five years of negotiation for Mr Sefrioui to purchase the property, located on the hill between the new city and the Medina, and another three years to design and build it.
The realisation of Mr Sefrioui's vision is made even more significant, as the hotel's manager, Guillaume Binder, is an old friend from his days of studying hospitality in Lausanne in Switzerland. "We met on the first day of our studies, and we've been friends ever since," says Mr Sefrioui.
The hotel was designed by rising talent Paris-based interior designer Christopher Pillet. "He achieved the objective of making a contemporary hotel with a specifically Moroccan identity," says Mr Sefrioui. It uses local materials, such as Taza stone and hand carved plaster, but with creative, modern flair.
There are 50 rooms, with views of Fez and the Atlas mountains, a large outdoor swimming pool, rooftop bar and lounge bar, a Givenchy spa and two restaurants. Relais de Paris offers a continental menu - it's rumoured a renowned international chef is starting there soon - and Amaraz has gourmet Moroccan dishes.
Unique and unusual artwork, inspired by Moroccan crafts, adorns the hotel walls and entry hallway. At last night's opening, the work of conceptual artist Eric Van Hove was on display. "He's used a Mercedes engine as inspiration, and got Moroccan craftspeople to replicate it using traditional materials," said Stephen di Renza, creative director for Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech. "The work has been bought by Dartmouth College in the US, but I believe it will first tour to I'Institute du Monde Arabe."
|Above and below: artwork by Eric Van Hove, inspired by a Mercedes engine|
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