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We created Riad el Fenn to be a successful and unique little hotel, but as well we want to contribute to a new way of approaching the hotel business with its social and environmental repercussions. Here are a few examples of actions that we thought would make an obvious difference.
Morocco is developing fast, attracting many young people to take their chance in the cities. The hotel business is famous for being highly seasonal and disruptive of local life in general, many hotels are staffed with a high ratio of part-time and short contract employees which make stability for new comers difficult and stressful. With only 21 rooms and suites, we now have 40 staff, all employed permanently, all registered with social services and paid largely above the average wages in our region. This way we intend to support their personal growth and enable them to adapt.
Marrakech records show an average of 300 days of sun a year, hence our early decision to equip some of the extensive terraces of the Riad with heat collectors. 45 solar panels are already in place in the space-limited environment of the medina, contributing to 60% of the domestic water heating and 30% of our swimming pools heating.
The 2 main swimming pools are equipped with salt electrolysis systems to allow sanitation without the use of harsh and unhealthy chlorine.
To supply the kitchen with high quality ingredients, three years ago we started a two acre organic garden outside town in the foothills of the Atlas which produces the most delicious vegetables, herbs and lettuces. To reduce unnecessary imports we don't buy imported foods. With, we hope, the understandable exceptions of good French wines and cherished black truffles.
The successful AiM International Biennale (www.aimbiennale.org) began life in 2005 at Riad El Fenn, conceived and developed by Vanessa Branson as a cultural bridge between Morocco and the UK. Past events have included discussions with Kim Catrall (star of Sex and the City), John Boorman (Oscar-nominated director) Zadie Smith (author of White Teeth and On Beauty), Julian Schnabel (Award winning film director & artist), Ahdaf Soueif (author of the Map of Love), Richard E. Grant (actor - Withnail & I) & Eric Fellner (film producer - Working Title films), to name a few.