Designer Eddie Harrop has just launched a new range of travel bags. Our guest blogger takes them for a spin in Morocco and discovers that the luxury holiday destination and the luxury travel essential make a perfect pair...
Welcome to Marrakech
Marrakech in Morocco is the most exotic place in close proximity to the UK. We fly in and just 20 minutes from the airport we are in the Palmeraie, where tens of thousands of palm trees give it the feeling of a desert oasis. We enter the gates of Jnane Tamsna, a private estate set in nine acres of beautiful landscaped gardens. I'm not sure when I'll become a botanist, but now seems a pretty good time. Jnane Tamsna has a total of 24 ensuite bedrooms spread over three properties, and the grounds include five pools and a tennis court. Game. Set. Match.
I LOVE this place. Over our candlelit dinner alongside willowing ferns and fragrant bougainvillea, the owner Meryanne Loum Martin tells us she had 11 months to build the place after receiving a booking before having even built the hotel! 10 years on, the property and gardens are ever more stunning. She's an interior designer of French/West Indian descent, so it's little wonder that the interiors here have graced the pages of many top style publications. What I really, really want is to have a party here - it lends itself perfectly with fabulous walkways and outside dining areas.
After the hubbub of Marrakech we head for the hills of Morocco - the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, to be precise. It's here that we learn about the local modes of transport and their relationships with each other. A horse and a horse make a horse. A donkey and a donkey make a donkey. A donkey and a horse make a mule. I ask: 'What about a mule and a,,,' and am stopped mid question.
'Mules cannot have offspring,' explains my local Berber guide Abdul. 'And if a mule ever produces offspring it will signify the end of the world to the Berber people.'
Bad news for the Berbers, and the mules, but good luck for me as a friendly mule carries our Eddie Harrop bags (one Roundel, one Weekender, since you ask) as we walk alongside through the walnut groves to our next destination. We're arriving at a restored Kasbah at the foot of Jebel Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa. It's very special here. I whack on the Clash's song 'Rock the Casbah' - this place has the most awesome views of the Atlas Mountains. Is that really snow? Our bedroom window looks onto snow capped peaks as I slap on my sun cream in the 30-degree heat.
Toubkal is not a hotel in the traditional sense; it is more an extension of the hospitality that stems from the home of the Berbers who run it. Abdul takes us on a nine-hour trek with that poor mule carrying lunch that we eat besides a mountain stream. If you like walking, you'll love this place, and if you don't, well, you can always ride back on that mule, whose load will be far lighter after lunch!
Finally, it's back to the airport with heavy hearts. I'm about to call all my friends to tell them to pack their Eddie Harrop bags, immediately - jump on a plane and become bewitched by Morocco's magic and charm. My boyfriend Rory and I sure are.