New for 2011, the über-chic Riad El Fenn in Marrakech introduces a series of 3 or 4-day courses and workshops mixing creative tuition, challenging assignments, delicious food and a luxurious setting.

Vanessa Branson’s Riad in Marrakech is where all the A-listers head for, from Gwen Stefani to Sacha Baron Cohen.
Creativity is at the heart of the Riad which boasts one of the most important private collections of contemporary art in Morocco, including works by Bridget Riley and Antony Gormley.

Led by experts in their field and suitable for all levels, choose from Jewellery Design, Gardens of Marrakech, Moroccan Cuisine, Creative Writing, Travel Photography, and Painting.
With 300 sunshine days a year, Marrakech is a great winter destination. Chase away the winter blues and begin the year learning, or honing, a skill in the sumptuous surroundings of Vanessa Branson’s Riad El Fenn, a focal point of the Arts in Marrakech Festival*.

With just 21 luxury suites – three of which are brand new – and plentiful courtyards, roof-terraces and quiet corners, the Riad offers an informal oasis of calm amid the hustle and bustle of the Medina.
When not being creative, guests can unwind on the vast 7,000’ roof terrace with sundecks, hanging gardens, roof-top putting green, shaded dining areas, three swimming pools and the best views in town, or relax in the private cinema, well-stocked library, spa, or authentic Moroccan hammam.


Contemporary jewellery designer Simon Fraser will introduce guests to the rich art form of Moroccan jewellery, visiting silversmiths, attending bead workshops and seeing the craftsmen at work in the souks. Design ideas and mood boards are presented each morning before the group heads out and about for inspiration in the afternoons. The finale is the opportunity to create a unique charm to be made by a local craftsman.

Get the creative juices flowing by joining British author Raffaella Barker, whose novels include A Perfect Life and Poppyland, on a creative writing workshop. A combination of exercises, feedback and one to one tuition will help aspiring writers to find their own voice in surroundings that inspire and stimulate. Joining likeminded participants provides the opportunity for confidence to grow, whether fluent or terrified of the blank page.

With its bustling souks, Moorish architecture and mountain landscapes, Marrakech is a photographer’s dream. Former Travel Photographer of the Year, Karoki Lewis, whose photographs have appeared in Harpers & Queen, Conde Nast Traveller and The Independent, will take guests to the hidden corners of the city to practice their skills. Visits to Berber villages, the Atlas Mountains and the medieval medina will provide colourful and photogenic backdrops.

Join a culinary adventure led by award-winning writer, broadcaster and cooking school owner Anissa Helou. The foody odyssey will teach aspiring chefs how to prepare Moroccan classics such as couscous, tagines and cornes de gazelle. Shop for spices in the souks, enjoy dinners at Marrakech’s best restaurants and make a behind the scenes visit to gastronomic Stylia to watch women creating warqa and pastilla.

Conservationist Dr. Gary Martin will reveal the history and design behind the hidden gardens of Marrakech on this 3-day workshop. Enjoy visits to Casa Botanica, Jnane Tamsna and Majorelle Gardens to discover the current trends in Moroccan garden design, planting and sustainability. Learn about the city’s indigenous plants and the decorative use of water in pools, fountains and irrigation channels, and visit Dr. Martin’s own regreening projects.

PAINTING (28 Feb – 4 Mar)
Vibrant city scenes and striking landscapes are sure to inspire the artist within. Experienced teacher and painter Carmen Golofré will help artists see and appreciate the landscapes and culture of Marrakech and beyond. Daytrips will be taken to the Atlas mountains, the ancient Jewish quarter and the famous Jma el Fna square, while afternoons are spent sketching and painting. Evenings will be free to relax, eat, drink and discuss each other’s work.

Gardens in Marrakech costs from £710 per person based on two sharing, including three nights’ full board accommodation, transfers, tuition, supplies and all scheduled excursions. All other courses cost from £945 per person and include four nights’ full board accommodation and everything as above. Courses taken independently of accommodation cost £705pp (Gardens in Marrakech £527pp).

Flights are extra: EasyJet from Gatwick and Manchester, and RyanAir from Bristol, Luton and East Midlands.

For further information contact Riad El Fenn www.riadelfenn.com Tel 00212 524 44 1210.