Monday, March 19, 2018

In Fez - Dar El Hana Changes Hands

A gathering held in the Fez Medina on Sunday evening marked a celebration of the transfer of the popular guest house, Dar El Hana, from Josephine Kwan to Suzanna Clarke and Sandy McCutcheon
"It has been a dream business" - Josephine Kwan

For Josephine it was an emotional event as she had poured so much energy into the enterprise over more than a decade.

When she first discovered the dar in February 2005 it looked to be in good condition. But, she explained, "when repairs started on the walls we discovered twenty-six major cracks that needed attention, and balconies were bowed from water damage."

"Features such as window shutters were painted blue and had to be stripped,' Josephine says. "All the wrought iron had been painted silver which had to be burned off".

Guests included Dr Gigi Kay (American Fonduk) and Rose Button (Dar Zerhoune)

Much of the zelige tile work had to be pulled up and restored.  There were no internal doors but, fortunately, she discovered the doors for sale in the back of a local carpet shop.

Josephine also had remodelling to do as the original kitchen was no bigger than a cupboard, and the dining room floor was close to collapse.

Restoration took one year - non-stop - with up to 10 people working every day.

Josephine recalls that at the time of the restoration there were a lot of others projects happening and there was a great camaraderie between the renovators.

Guests enjoying Dar El Hana hospitality

Originally Josephine had no intention of running the property as a guest house - but having spent her money she saw that hosting paying guests was a positive way forward. Despite having no business experience, Josephine discovered she had a talent for it and the enterprise flourished.

For Josephine the strongest and fondest memories are of friendships forged with guests and the warm relationships with the local Moroccans.

Dar El Hana - a classic restoration

"It has been a dream business," Josephine says, "with wonderful happenings along the way. Including four couples getting married after meeting in the house, including my son Anthony, who married the Moroccan girl next door!"

She says it's hard to let Dar El Hana go, but happy that she still has a small house in the Medina, so will be able to visit from her new base in Australia. So it is not goodbye.


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