Monthly Archives

November 2015

Beach Travel

Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay

November 5, 2015
Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay

Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay

Last month I was lucky enough to travel to Morocco with work, alongside some amazing travel bloggers and competition winners from the UK and France. With a weekend of sun, tagines and souk visits ahead of us, we flew out to Agadir and travelled onto Taghazout Bay, a small town on the south-western coast of Morocco.

Within easy reach of Marrakech and a drive along the coast from the resort of Essaouira the area attracts surfers and sun seekers alike, and was the perfect spot to unwind. The weather was incredible whilst we were there, and I genuinely couldn’t believe we were only a 3.5 hour flight away from the grey and miserable London we’d left behind. I can’t stress enough what a novelty it was to drag my shorts and sandals out from the depths of my wardrobe and forget about thick winter tights for a few days. For anyone desperate for a bit of winter sun (as I so often am at this time of year) Morocco is absolutely the place to visit, with temperatures often in the mid 20s into November.

Our hotel for the weekend, the Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay, was beautiful and genuinely one of the most instagrammable places I’ve ever been. Every area was beautifully decorated, from the palms and pillows by the pool to the details in the bedroom or unexpected touches in the lobby areas. Needless to say I took an alarming amount of photos in the time we were there, and I won’t mention how long it took to reduce them down for this post.

The hotel has free wifi (priorities), a gym, sauna, restaurant, free breakfast for all guests and an outdoor cafe and cocktail bar. Each evening we sat out by the pool watching the most incredible sunsets whilst sipping on pina coladas and enjoyed working our way through the menu – the meat tagine was amazing and nice to tick off the list. It may not surprise you to hear we never made it to the gym but it seemed a good size and well equipped, although you could make like our more active travel companions and head off into the mountains for a hike in the sunshine instead.

From a warm welcome and Moroccan tea on arrival to arranging poolside BBQs and tips on the local area, every single member of staff went out of their way to accommodate and make the trip special. I got the sense that everyone was genuinely happy to be there and happy to help – which doesn’t come across in every hotel you visit – and I had some lovely conversations with members of the team who told me how much they loved working in such a beautiful place.

Looking at these photos on a cold and rainy December evening I literally cannot wait to go back and explore more of Morocco next year. I’ve always wanted to visit Marrakech so would love to combine a city break there followed by a few days relaxing by the sea here in Taghazout Bay. I couldn’t fit all of my many (many) photos into this post so will post again with an update on the excursions the hotel can arrange in the area, including a trip to the local souk in Agadir and an amazing trip through the mountains on quad bikes!

You can see reviews from some of the other guests here:
The lovely Solli from Solli’s Lifestyle gives her take on the trip here
Anna Cossack took some beautiful pictures for her blog here
See how Emilie from Lovaine.co.uk took advantage of the great surfing in the area here

Emma x

We stayed at the Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay on a comp basis so another massive thank you to the team for having us and making our stay so special. All opinions expressed are an honest review of the hotel and entirely my own.

Style Travel

Travel inspiration with Meriko London

November 2, 2015
Meriko London

Meriko London was founded by jewellery designer Meri Hovsepyan in 2013. Originally from Armenia, Meri’s work is inspired by her travels and her love of nature, with each collection named after destinations that reflect her pieces. I caught up with Meri to talk travel inspiration, jewellery design and business advice – and left with a serious case of wanderlust!

You left Armenia when you were 13 years old. What are your fondest memories of being there?
My fondest memories are the people. Armenians are so warm and hospitable; even if you go to the home of someone with little money they will lay a table for you with the last of their food! In general, my childhood spent in Armenia was special. I was there until I was 13 and I always look back at my memories of playing with my friends in kindergarten and school with fondest memories and nostalgia.

What recommendations would you have for anyone looking to travel to Armenia? What about the area do you love the most? 
Armenia is known as an ‘open air museum’. There is so much to see, including many historical monuments and churches. Armenia adopted Christianity formally in 301 so you are never short of an ancient church or ten to see each day – they really are works of art.

My favourite place is Lake Sevan, about one and a half hour’s drive from the capital Yerevan. The colour of the lake is just stunning; it’s light turquoise in colour and later on became the inspiration for my jewellery designs. I remember as a child every time going there with my family, and how as soon as I could see the lake my heart would beat so fast from the excitement.

You’ve lived in a lot of places over the years – from Armenia and Moscow to London and Spain! Which place has had the most influence on who you are today?
It’s hard to choose between London and Spain. You can’t beat the thrill and fast paced excitement of life in London; the energy and pulse of life there never leaves you. London has it all – from history and culture, to the latest in art and design… it’s a jewellery designer’s dream as inspiration is on every street corner. As for Spain, or at least the South of Spain where we have a home and I spend a lot of time, that’s the very opposite and it truly nourishes my soul. Where London wakes me up, Spain chills me out. From my bedroom window I can see mountains on one side and the sparkling Med on the other. I can take my son to the old town in the morning, the beach in the afternoon and in the evening go to the huge array of fiestas and parties that seem to go on every night in the summer. I wake up each morning smiling because the sun is always shining and the air is always clear.

You’ve mentioned that travel and nature are your biggest inspirations. What impact have these had on the pieces you produce for Meriko London and which destination has been your greatest inspiration to date?
Other than Spain, which as you can tell brought me closer to nature and inspired my Gold Coast collection, I would say that California holds a special place in my heart too. It’s such a visually beautiful place… in fact it is quite Mediterranean in places. The surrounding areas of LA such as Orange County (Laguna Beach, Long Beach) and Santa Barbara are so, so pretty.

Where in the world would you love to travel to next and why?
I love all things Latin and I am dying to go to Cuba and Mexico. I love colour! And these places seem to be teeming with it. I love countries where the people are warm and the weather even warmer; where the food is delicious and art and culture is all around you. I can’t wait to get to Salsa and Samba in the streets of Cuba one day, and hopefully come away with some inspiration for a new collection.

At what point did you know you wanted to be a jewellery designer?
I can’t remember wanting to be anything else! As a small child I could watch my father make fine jewellery all day. Precious stones and gems were like toys to me, instead of learning colours out of a book I was introduced to the colour blue by being taught the difference between turquoise, lapis and aquamarine stones.  I specifically got my degree in Art History to understand the evolution of design, and then went on to study accountancy and business… the perfect stepping stones toward my vocational nirvana. Which is where I am now.

What advice would you give someone looking to start their own business?
Do your research, because it takes a lot of investment – both time and money, so you need to know exactly the direction you are going in. Know your competitors as well as you know yourself, and get to grips with the changing face of technology and social media, because without it no one will know who you are. It’s also important to surround yourself with the right team – you don’t know everything, so make sure you work with people that are knowledgeable, trustworthy and as passionate about your brand as you are. It’s not easy, and even when it looks like it’s all for nothing keep soldiering on as you never know if your big break will be tomorrow.

And for someone who’d love to work in jewellery design?

Remember, everyone out there is already bigger and more successful than you… so make sure you really have a passion for what you do or it will show in your work. Stay on top of the game – be creative, innovative and unique in everything you do. I truly believe that when you love your work, never give up and stay hopeful…good things happen. Well I hope they will!

Your top tip for travel:
Insider knowledge. I believe you won’t ever truly experience a place if you don’t live it like a local. So immerse yourself in the culture, language, food and customs. Make friends with local people who will show you the unseen parts of where you are. That’s when you go from being a tourist to being a true adventurer.

Meri’s newest collection, Colorado Escape, is now available online at www.merikolondon.com and through stockists in London, Madrid, Malaga and New York.