Saturday, 14 January 2012

Marrakesh Palmerie

Marrakesh Palmerie has existed for centuries just outside the city but is now under threat. The older guidebooks recommend it as a pleasant place to explore by bicycle but these days the tourist is increasingly likely to visit by staying at a resort hotel. The process started under the old King whose favourite Hotel featured 2 golf courses.  Increasingly more Hotels are being built each with several swimming pools and often  with one , or two, golf courses. Golf courses and swimming pools use a lot of water so the Palmerie is at risk both of being concreted over and of having its trees parched to oblivion.
The pressure from Marrakesh's tourist success operates in a less direct way also. More and more of the buildings in the medina are being done up as posh "authentic" Riads, often owned by foreigners, with ensuite bathrooms and modern plumbing. The residents are being displaced to doughnut developments on the city perimeters, some of these are "appartements  en hautstanding" , (highrise flats), but the more upmarket building is of villas and many of these developments are in the Palmerie. Whilst the world economic crisis has left the Atlantic coast somewhat like Ireland with abandoned half built developments aimed at the european market it does not seem to have had such an arresting effect on the Marrakechi new build. Word is however that many of the europeans owning riads in the medina are feeling the pinch and that now is a good time to pick up a bargain.

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