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Art and style combine as the Fellah Hotel announces exclusive cultural programme for Marrakech Biennale

Located in the ancient village of Tassoultante at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, 14 kilometres from Marrakech’s Old Medina, the recently-opened Fellah Hotel today [14th January] announces the launch of its first ‘Art & Travel’ weekend workshops, which will offer guests exclusive insights into the Marrakech Biennale - as well as a unique experience.

The Marrakech Biennale was founded by Vanessa Branson in 2010 and focuses on cutting-edge contemporary visual art, literature and film, showcased in the eclectic venues and settings that Marrakech has to offer.

The Fellah hotel and its on-site culture hub, Dar al-Ma'mûn, have been associated with the Biennale since 2012, and visitors will also be able to enjoy free access to two elements from the official Biennale programme taking place on their doorstep at Dar al-Ma'mûn: the first Boiler Room underground music session to be streamed from North Africa, and Dar al-Ma'mûn Conversations, a series of debates on the wider themes encompassed by the Biennale.

The brainchild of former stockbroker Redha Moali, the Fellah Hotel and its associated centres create an environment steeped in creativity and culture. Encompassing 10 villas (with 69 rooms) – all furnished with mid-century flea-market finds as well as modern pieces commissioned from local craftsmen - the Fellah Hotel environs are also home to Dar al-Ma'mûn, the only cultural centre in North Africa and the Middle East to receive the UNESCO-Aschberg label.

The non-profit arts hub, which is dedicated to bringing international contemporary art and culture to Morocco, offers an international residency for artists and literary translators. The organisation brings together artists’ studios, a research centre in literary translation (Arabic-French-English) and a multi-lingual library open to all (from hotel guests to local villagers, as well as resident artists), with a focus on social sciences, literature, poetry, aesthetics and art history. Dar al-Ma'mûn also oversees a number of community-outreach programmes, including a pre-school for 250 local children, tutoring for elementary school students aimed at lowering the dropout rate, which in agricultural villages such as a Tassoultante can be high, and a literacy programme for local women.

The Fellah’s first Art & Travel workshop will coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Marrakech Biennale, an event that has been constantly building bridges between Morocco and the western word, stimulating a dialogue between cultures through the realm of visual art, literature and cinema.

Taking place from Thursday 26 February to Sunday 2 March 2014, the workshop consists of morning discussions on topics such as the emerging arts scenes in Morocco and the Arab World, studies of a selection of works chosen from the Biennale and the exploration of art themes, while afternoons are spent experiencing the Biennale first hand with a series of expert guides.

On the Saturday night guests can party with the best of them, as Dar al-Ma'mûn hosts North Africa’s first Boiler Room underground music performance, which forms part of the official Biennale Programme. Organising DJ and live performances that are then streamed online to a worldwide audience, Boiler Room began as a London-based live web stream, primarily showcasing local underground artists and labels. Since its inception in 2010, the platform has become one of the world’s key broadcasters of contemporary music, with a global expansion that now sees regular events streamed from Berlin, New York, Los Angeles, Canada and Mexico. The Boiler Room session at the Dar al-Ma’mûn focuses on cross-cultural collaboration, with renowned international artists working together with traditional Moroccan Gnawa musicians.

The Fellah’s first ‘Art and Travel Workshop’ will run from Thursday 26 February to Sunday 2 March 2014 and costs from €1,400 per person, including all meals.

As well as a unique arts and culture hub, the Fellah is home to Morocco and Europe’s only Wat Po Massage Centre, with therapists trained at Bangkok’s Wat Po temple – considered the home of Thai Arts and Learning. Signature treatments include a range of holistic programmes designed to alleviate and re-energise guests from the ailments typically associated with the daily grind of modern-day working.

Its Fellah Moroccan Wellness Centre features a Turkish bath and a hammam, as well as five treatment rooms and Salon Mahler – a communal space that regularly hosts independent film screenings as well as dance nights with prominent DJs.

The Fellah Hotel also boasts two restaurants: the Fellah offering traditional Moroccan dishes using local produce – dishes include Zaalouk (Moroccan eggplant salad) with roasted sardines and coriander juice and cold cucumber soup with wild geranium, mixed briouates and Nanâa mint, and Touco’s, which offers guests the chance to sample traditional berger tagines cooked by local villagers within the Hotel’s grounds.

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