Friday, February 19, 2016

Four Seasons Casablanca Hits a Snag

The recently opened Four Seasons Hotel in Casablanca has run into a slight hitch. While its website advertises its "three Casablanca restaurants and bars with ocean views", the "chic" bars are running a little dry. as in a major "oops" moment, they failed to obtain a liquor licence.
The authorisation has been delayed due to the hotel’s location, which directly faces the Al Saud Mosque on the Casablanca Corniche.

"Refrigerated personal bar"?

The five-star hotel chain is at risk for not being granted a liquor license due to the terms of a very old royal decree dating back to July 17th 1967, which restricts the sale and consumption of liquor in establishments that are located near holy sites, places of worship, cemeteries, military buildings, and hospitals.

"The Bleu bar boasts a chic atmosphere for cocktails. Our sleek bar is the perfect place to enjoy the finest local oysters"

According to a report on the website Medias24, denial of a liquor license could cause serious losses for the hotel chain, which has invested one billion dirhams in building the hotel and expects to make 260 million dirhams in business during its first year.

The hotel administration are reluctant to comment on the status of the liquor license. “We do not know anything about it and the procedures for obtaining a license are under study,” a hotel official said.

Under Moroccan law there are two categories of venues with separate legal ramifications. The first category considers the sale of alcohol as the main activity, as in bars, for example. The second category, which would appear to apply in the Four Seasons' case, considers alcohol as a complementary service, as is the case of hotels.

If the venue in question falls within the second category, local authorities form a committee to study the distance between alcohol vendors in the area. According to Moroccan laws, there should be at least 300 meters of distance between alcohol vendors, but exceptions may be granted in the cases of hotels and restaurants.

Local authorities are ducking away from the case with the Governor of Casa Anfa, Najib Gourani, and the Wilaya declining to comment.

Alcohol is a divisive issue in Morocco, with many scholars pointing out that the Holy Quran does not explicitly forbid consumption of alcohol, but forbids "intoxication".  More conservative scholars beg to differ. But, as the Four Seasons Group is 50% owned by Saudi interests, and the mosque in question was built with Saudi money, it is expected the issue will eventually be sorted out in favour of the hotel.

Print Friendly and PDF

No comments: