The Road to Morocco

Morocco Hotel owners traverse the labyrinth of a busy marketplace



Elena Ray

People and donkeys fill the narrow alleys and winding pathways through Morocco’s busy marketplaces, known as souks. When El Morocco Inn & Spa owner's Bruce Abney and John Aguilar visited two-and-a-half years ago, they paid a guide $50 to take them through the labyrinth of spice, fabric, food, crafts, and other wares.

“[The guides] treat you like you are their best friend,” Aguilar says. “Then suddenly the guide disappears. There is a moment when they let you become petrified, and then another guide comes along and says [the first guide] had to go. Then several guides come offering to lead you out.” The owners of El Morocco Inn & Spa ended up paying a second guide in a practice they now understand is part of the Moroccan culture.

They learned another shopping lesson closer to home — this one on the art of negotiating.

“John and I went to Los Angeles and met with this Moroccan importer,” Abney says. “He had in the back this sort of obscure set of doors. We were not the average buyer. … When we found [the doors], he immediately became enthralled that we were enthralled with something much more authentic [than what other customers bought]. He brought out Moroccan tea, which is like syrup. We were there three hours. He brought out his wife and children. You have a real exchange. By the end of those three hours, we knew everything about him, and he knew everything about us. He was really teaching me how to negotiate.”

When Abney made a move to pay for the doors and leave, the importer said, “Oh, no, my friend, I think we can do better.” Abney admits he still paid a dear price for the doors, which came from a house in Morocco and now lead to a storage area off the inn’s entryway.

This fall, Abney and Aguilar are heading back to Morocco for their third visit, and Abney says this time they’ll hire a guide from the five-star hotel on the outskirts of Casablanca where they are staying to ensure they don’t get abandoned in a souk. But, he adds, he is not necessarily going to shop or vacation as much as “to become eyes and ears for future embellishments” for the inn. He also wants to visit riads that are open as B&Bs and see how Moroccans use brass trays without scratching the furniture.

To read about the El Morocco Inn & Spa in Desert Hot Springs, click here.

 

Palm Springs Life

Related Articles

Palm Springs Weekend: Peter Frampton, Diana Ross, Cinema Diverse

Palm Springs Life helps plan out your weekend in Palm Springs and the desert resort cities with concerts, events, restaurants, nightlife, clubs and the world of entertainment only found in the desert.

Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs Earns Travel Weekly Award

The lobby design at Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs has received a 2014 Gold Magellan Award from Travel Weekly.

Explore Palm Springs: La Plaza Shopping Center

Still a thriving shopping center, La Plaza breathes life into Palm Springs' downtown shopping district just as it has done for more than 70 years.

Ingleside Inn Palm Springs Attracts Daily Nightlife Crowds

The mystique of cutting loose in the same room Frank Sinatra once did is what initially brings the crowd, but the entertainment at Ingleside Inn in Palm Springs is what keeps them.

Sophia Condos Keep Midcentury Design, Add Green Technology

Sophia Condos, set for completion in November in Palm Springs, offers midcentury design with a twist while paying tribute to actress Sophia Loren.

Promotions + Contests

Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter just once for a chance to win tickets to one of the second annual Palm Desert International Dance Festival performances.