Location: Marrakech, Morocco
In one line, what makes you a PUREist?
I am interested in experiences more than owning things.
Tell us your story – how did you get where you are today?
I wanted to avoid working in an office, so I formed Hobo Travel (which later changed its name to Discover Ltd.) and from 1978 I ran Land Rover adventure holidays in Morocco. It was then that I met local mountain guide Omar Ait Bahmed – and so began a long friendship and business relationship that continues to this day. In 1986 I purchased a field study centre in France and others, including my brother Chris, joined the company; then 1995 saw the opening of Kasbah du Toubkal. In 2006 we formed travel agency Mountain Voyage Morocco and a year later in 2007 myself and others in the industry formed Education For All, or EFA, in Marrakech (which is supported by PURE) – the charity helps provide the opportunity of a college education for girls from rural Morocco. In 2013 the first annual cyclo-sportive, the Marrakech Atlas Etape (run in favour of Education For All) took place and this year will see the opening of EFA’s fifth boarding house, which will enable nearly 200 girls gain the opportunity of a college education.
Can you share with us your single most life-enriching experience?
Seeing the first five girls from EFA pass their Baccalaureate – the first in their villages ever to do so.
What does the term ‘experiential travel’ mean to you?
Putting oneself in situations that make one think.
Describe your ideal client: how do they approach travel?
Open-minded, caring to the human and physical environment – aware of what is really important in life and probably aware of how privileged they are to be able to have the experiences they can have. In a saying: “It’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice”.
What made you decide to join PURE Life Experiences and how has doing so benefitted your business?
PURE really was a great match for us and of course with it taking place in Marrakech – our home city – it was obvious we would want to join if we were accepted. It has allowed us to show our services to many in the travel industry that we would not otherwise have met (or at least not as quickly). PURE has acted as a catalyst.
What role do you think PURE has to play in the high-end experiential travel industry?
Bringing people together acting as a catalyst.
What other brands and companies in high-end experiential travel do you admire the most?
If there were one thing you could change about the travel industry, what would it be?
Making sure the host community always gains from the industry.
Finally, who is your experiential hero?
Nelson Mandela: someone who gained so much from negative experiences – very much an example of “what does not kill me makes me stronger”.
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