Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Saga of Palais Jamaï Continues!

The Palais Jamaï in Fez has had a rocky history. From starting life as a grand residence it eventually be became a hotel, but was finally closed and basically abandoned in 2014. However, it appears that a new chapter has started and Palais Jamaï will be reborn in grand fashion

The Jamaï Palace was built in 1879 by Si Mohammed ben Arbi el Jamaï, Grand Vizier of the Sultan Moulay Hassan 1 (1836-1873-1894).

On the death of the sultan in 1894 the family was out of favour with the the new Sultan Abd El Aziz (1878-1943) who had two members of the Jamaï family were imprisoned. The family was dispersed, and its property was confiscated.

The Jamaï family were proud Fassis and eventually recovered their property. During the period of the French Protectorate, the family put the Jamaï Palace up for sale and began negotiations with Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, through its subsidiary the Great North African Hotels (SVHNA).

This sale was not easy: as one account puts it, "This acquisition, a real Arab tale, was sealed by an act signed by some forty heirs of the Grand Vizier and forms a large roll of enlightened parchment, enclosed in a precious wooden chest, worked and padlocked ! But this, after interminable negotiations which began in 1923, and many obstacles, the least of which was not to obtain the departure of the women who populated the harem and who obstinately refused to evacuate the palace. The last five heirs, entrenched in the inextricable maquis of the Moroccan procedure, took four years to affix their signatures to the bottom of the famous parchment in 1929

The North African Travel and Hotel Corporation transformed it into a hotel for the accommodation of tourists coming for North African Auto-tours.

In 1927 the hotel was enlarged by the architect Edmond Gourdain (1885-1968).

But after the collapse of the Transat in 1931, THE Palais Jamaï was bought by the Company of the Railways of Morocco.

After the end of the Protectorate in 1956, the National Railway purchased three concessions that linked the former Moroccan capital Fez to the Atlantic. One of them was the Moroccan Railway Company (CFM), which owned the Palace.

In 1998, the ONCF sold the hotel for a period of twenty years to the Accor group, which operated it under the Sofitel label. The group invested fifty-four million dirhams (5 million euros) for the renovation of the Palace.

In December 2014, the Accor group ended its management and closed the hotel.

The ONCF took over the Palais Jamaï de Fès, announcing on January 5, 2015 that the hotel will have to be redeveloped and renamed and that it will be renamed in Mamounia .

But in September 2016 the Jamaï Palace was still closed, the work had not started and the hotel was abandoned.

According to a decision published in the Official Bulletin of 6 July, the national railway company, headed by Mohamed Rabie Khlie, was authorised to establish a public limited company known as "Palais Jamai SA" with a capital of 10 million DH.

The company will rebuild, equip and operate this hotel. The decision in the Official Gazette was co-signed by the Head of Government and the Minister of Finance. Its objective is to give a new life to this palace to make it a hotel establishment awith standards identical to those of La Mamounia in Marrakech and Michlifen near Ifrane.

The works will require a total budget of 572 million dirhams, 40% of which is capital and 60% financed by bank loans. The text specifies that Palais Jamai SA will be open as early as 2023.

At the end of the reconstruction work this famous Fassi palace will have 31 suites and 60 new rooms, in addition to outbuildings.


1 comment:

pema said...

Quite liked the Palais Jamie but question the need for another high end hotel. Would it perhaps be more ethical/commercially viable to turn it into a medium to low budget establishment catering for middle income tourists,