In the 1980s, Chris Lawrence produced numerous fashion shoots in locations from Hawaii to Marrakech for the likes of Bruce Weber, Peter Lindbergh and Herb Ritts. He also established Best of Morocco, a UK-based tour operator. When he sold the company in 2005, Morocco lost a true one-off.
Now Max Lawrence – the former designer-owner of the popular Tigmi Tagadert hotel, 20 minutes outside Marrakech – has taken up his father’s mantle (with Chris as consultant) in a new specialist tour operation, Lawrence of Morocco (www.lawrenceofmorocco.com). Like Chris, Max has a strong commitment to local communities (he is an Arabic speaker who has lived in Morocco for 12 years). Itineraries include exploring the south of the country by light aircraft, stargazing from a new desert observatory hotel, Sahara Sky (www.saharasky.com), trekking in the Atlas mountains and surfing in Oualidia (second picture).
This makes a change from the obvious luxuries of Marrakech, which is now at a tipping point, so conspicuous is the presence of the five-star mega-brands, which, in April, will include the new Taj Palmeraie (www.tajhotels.com; first picture; from $700), 15 minutes outside the city walls. Taj will be going head-to-head with the recently arrived Four Seasons Marrakech (www.fourseasons.com/marrakech; from €369) – the gardens need to develop to give this hotel some much-needed spirit.