TRAVEL - INTERVIEW
Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Valérie Janczewski, Owner of RiadAnata
TRAVEL - INTERVIEW
by Melisa Kaya
Sometimes you set up a business in your own city, sometimes you travel all around the world to find the right location for you. Valérie Janczewski is one of the people who traveled all around the world to decide on the right place. When Valérie's passion for travel and culture meets with the charming atmosphere of Fez, she decided to stay in Morocco. She bought a house in Fez to realize her charming guest-house idea and opened Boutique Hotel RiadAnata in 2012. In order to get more information about RiadAnata, which is full of differences with its' interior design to service concept, from cooking class to full renting option, I asked Valérie Janczewski, Owner of RiadAnata.
Valérie, before start talking about RiadAnata, could you tell us about yourself? Who is Valérie Janczewski?
Graduated in communication from a university in Brussels, I completed my studies with a year in Business Management in Leuven (the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant in Belgium). After graduating, I deepened my language skills by spending several months in San Diego and in Barcelona. And it is finally in Spain, in the city of Madrid, in 2004 that I got the job of my life: Africa Commercial Director of a press agency. This adventure spread over 8 years. Eight years in which I visited more than 70 countries and lived by episodes in different states of sub-Saharan Africa. In 2008, wanting to keep a foothold on the African continent, I opted for Morocco and at the age of 28, I bought a house in Fez. In 2012, after many works, RiadAnata opens its doors...
Initially, I wanted to make it a simple single-family home, friendly and intimate to come and relax with family and friends. However, with my passionate nature and as someone who likes to introduce others to my discoveries, I decided to share my passion for travel and culture.
When did you first interested in tourism? How did you decide to create RiadAnata in Fez? What inspired you?
My eight years traveling the world and living in hotels made me feel very knowledgeable and comfortable with the hospitality industry. I realized that working in hotel industry allows me to keep a great deal of freedom and mobility, as well as the rare opportunity to keep meeting and interacting with people from all walks and corners of life. Also staring a new project always offers some interesting challenges that require to use critical and creative thinking, which I really enjoy :) So brought to Fez by the fortunes of life and as I fell immediately under the charm of the city I decided to open this charming boutique hotel.
Why did you prefer Fez? What are the advantages of being there?
Fez is cobblestoned medieval magnificence that transports you back in time the instant you’re enclosed in the medina’s walls. Hardly surprising, considering it was founded in the ninth century and has retained its reputation as the spiritual and cultural giant of Morocco. Fez, Morocco’s cultural and spiritual capital may have lagged behind Marrakech when it comes to stylish riads and sophisticated restaurants, but a subtle transformation is underway along its medieval alleyways. Now, Morocco’s medieval cultural capital is coming out of Marrakech’s shadow :)
Could you tell us about RiadAnata and the overall concept?
RiadAnata is probably the hippest guesthouse in the Fez medina offering a ‘home away from home’ feeling. Expect jazz crooners on the stereo, chic but unfussy décor, an intimate rooftop scene, and bio certified toilet amenities in your bathroom. The employees are the ones who truly give RiadAnata that ultimate feel. They are very helpful and attentive… hospitality in the truest sense of the word.
Please tell us about the building that you are located in and its details. How would you describe the design concept of RiadAnata? Please tell us about restoration and interior design.
RiadAnata has been given a light, contemporary feel by Audrey Vermeersch, the Belgian Designer who restored it. Our hotel resides in a quaint part of Fès Medina, although it is small, it is a tall marvel. The Riad is an amalgamation of Andalucian townhouses and Moroccan Riads with a splash of trendy color. The central patio on the ground floor is where everyone comes together and, when it’s too chilly to sit outside, this is where breakfast or dinner are served.
How many different types of rooms do you offer to your guests? What are their distinctive features?
Our five rooms come with pale tadelakt walls and splashes of vibrant colour – which give the rooms their name (Azur, white, orange, red & Green rooms)– from rugs, blankets, and local art. Rates between 120 Euro and 140 Euro, breakfast included. More info please have a look on http://www.riad-anata.com/book-now/ :)
Could you tell us about Full Renting? What are the features and advantages of Full Renting?
A whole Riad rental is a unique experience! You’ll form more personal relationships with the staff that are here to help you but they also become more like family. A fantastic way to enjoy Fez whether with a group of family or friends, ideal for wedding anniversaries, Christmas, etc..
RiadAnata Cooking Class, how did this idea come up with? Please tell us about your chef and details of cooking class.
Fez has always been Morocco culinary capital and we love to go out of our way to make our guests experience as pleasant as possible! An experience that brings you to the souks of the medina to shop at the market like a local, choose the best ingredients & turn them into a delicious 3-course lunch. Discover the secrets of the best Moroccan cuisine recipes in a genuinely relaxed atmosphere. With our chef, "hands-on" approach you will be able to surprise your guests back at home. More than a traditional Moroccan cooking class, this is a complete immersion into the Moroccan culture.
Dishes are prepared while learning the cultural significance of food in Moroccan life. Then, enjoy the fruit of your labour with a glass of wine or a fresh orange juice!
When your guests out of RiadAnata and stepping into the streets, what can they do?
RiadAnata is situated very conveniently in the medina, and, with our travel booklet in hand, our guests can go out and explore the city. Or book a private guide to show them around because the old medina is such a large maze that you might get lost without a guide telling you where to go :) Our hotel is located close to Fez Medina main attractions.
What kind of additional services do you offer for business travelers?
Just FREE WIFI, no meeting room, not really a business oriented place, ( thank god :))
How can travelers make their individual or business/group reservations? Do you have any advantage packs or reward packs that you offer to your regular and long-term guests?
Best rate is our NON REFUNDABLE RATE only available on our Website :) No special rate for long-term residents…
Which is the top season for travelers who want to visit Fez? What is the reason?
Not in December, January, February as it is too cold, nor in July and August as it is too hot. The rest of the year weather conditions are nice but I would suggest September and October during the World Sacred Music Festival! (http://www.fez-riads.com/fes-festival-of-world-sacred-music/)
What are the most famous attractions near you?
Batha Museum - Housed in a wonderful 19th-century summer palace and converted to a museum in 1915, the Batha Museum houses an excellent collection of traditional Moroccan arts and crafts.
If you have only one weekend in Fez as a first-time visitor, in this limited time, what are the best things to do?
1. Visit the two Madrasas in Fes known as the Al-Attarien madrasa & the BouInania Madrasa - A Madrasa is an old place of education, so like a school, a college or a university now turned museum. With thousands of different tiles on the walls, carvings, and high ceilings. It’s worth the visit!
2. Walk around and around and around the Medina - Just wandering around the Medina until you come across hidden gems. With so much to look at and so much going on, you’ll always come across something special to remember.
Also, please have a look at my travel booklet for more info :)
How do you describe Fez in one sentence?
Fez is an enchanting Moroccan city that easily captures hearts.
Thank you Valérie for this enjoyable interview.
Photo credits in this article are Mireille Roobaert, Brussels Kitchen, Ciseren Vesaire, Ssolalessa, Salah Grisi, Travel The Life, Windcollective.