What do Lætitia Hallyday, Julien Clerc, Meryl Streep and Jessica Alba have in common? These stars all spent the Christmas holidays in the ochre city. And with good reason: Morocco does not skimp on the means to ensure the comfort and safety of celebrities, who then become the city’s influential ambassadors of charm.
In 2019, Marrakech-Menara airport broke a record: during the second half of December, before the end of the year, more than 200 private jets landed there, in charge of transporting a privileged clients who came to rest in the ochre city.
Many French people, including Johnny Hallyday’s widow, Lætitia, or the singer Julien Clerc. Americans, too, such as the actress Meryl Streep – 21 times Oscar-nominated and three times winner. The actress, who had already stayed in Marrakech for the International Film Festival, has chosen to return there to celebrate the transition to the year 2020. She visited the Musée des confluences-Dar El Bacha with Mehdi Qotbi, President of the National Museum Foundation, who shared a snapshot of the moment on the social network Instagram.
The Moroccan National Tourist Office (ONMT), with its modest budget of 750 million Dirhams (77 million euros), could not have afforded better advertising. Marrakesh is fully banking on this viral marketing to attract an upmarket clientele. Since the middle of the 2000s, the city has been moving upmarket to meet the demands of American VIPs. They love the attention they receive.
“The beauty, the colors, the incense, the orange blossom, the spices, and above all the Moroccans – it’s almost too beautiful to be absorbed – everything we experienced in Marrakech was incredible.” The message, posted on Instagram in April, is signed Jessica Alba. It was read by the 17 million fans of the American actress, who came to celebrate her 38th birthday in the kingdom.
In August 2018, it was another world star, Madonna, who packed her bags in the medina to celebrate her 60th birthday. The pop queen’s visit had led to a series of arrangements. “She spent the first few days at the El Fenn riad, before celebrating at the famous Kasbah Tamadot,” says one of the stars’ insiders in Marrakech. These two residences, owned respectively by Vanessa Branson and Richard Branson, have become, over the years, the haunt of world celebrities.