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Interview with Kerstin Brand, Director at Dar Fakir

Kerstin Brand is the Director at Dar Fakir since its re-opening in 2011 after an undergoing extensive refurbishment in 2010. Dar Fakir belongs to a chain of successful enterprises in Marrakech such as the infamous Nikki Beach, Le Tanjia restaurant and L’Avenue, all owned by Nordine Fakir. If someone knows how to create a “In” place that people want to go to – here you are at the right address. Kerstin herself brings with her a wealth of understanding within the travel industry herself from extensive travel around the world and also having set up Bare Minimum Travel an up-market low-mid range accommodation agency for Morocco. Having travelled to Morocco for over 12 years before finally settling over here she has seen the country develope and knows even the far reached corners. Her experience and understanding of Moroccan culture adds valuable insights to anyone being a guest in the Riad. What is it that you do exactly?
My name is Kerstin Brand, I am the director at Dar Fakir. before coming to Morocco I’ve lived in Germany, England and Sweden. An average day at the riad consists first and foremost in looking after our guests, answering reservations, negotiating contracts with travel agencies and other commercial aspects of the riad.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Speaking with the guests and making sure that they have an enjoyable stay is the biggest satisfaction of my work. Especially as many people can at first find Marrakech a little daunting. It is a hectic place with small narrow winding streets that some guests find intimmidating at first. I always give guests a good introduction not only to sights and general things to do in and around Marrakech but also help and explain a little about the culture. People feed back to me that it is the latter that makes all the difference and allows them to have a great time during their stay. My goal is always to make people leave saying “We’ll be back” and the majority do.
What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?
Loving to travel myself I like places that are exotic and remote. Bagan in Burma was absolutely amazing. It is like Ankor Wat must have been over 20 years ago. Watching a sunset from the top of the temple with only a handful of other people around was breathtaking. Another very memorable place to me is the Sahara desert, be it Tomboctou in Mali, Merzouga in Morocco or Nouakchott in Mauritania. Sleeping under the stars in the desert is a feeling you can not beat. But the best of all places for me has got to be Marrakech. Having traveled here regularly over 12 years, I have still not got bored of this beautiful city and amazing country that has some much variety to offer… and this is why I live here now.
What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?
Bugs, I think no one forgets eating bugs but in Cambodia I kept being offered water beatles that I really didn’t enjoy. But after having managed to chew and swallow the first one they kept offering me more in different flavoured varieties, insisting I just hadn’t tried the right one yet. I finally got out of it by insisting that grasshoppers were more to my liking. It did the trick.
Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?
The owner of Dar Fakir is Nordine Fakir, who also owns the “In” places L’Avenue and  Nikki Beach where, for example, Sex and the City 2 was filmed, so it is unavoidable to meet famous people. As I however meet these people in a private enviroment here in the riad so there is a need for discretion to protect their privacy.
What currently ranks highest on your travel wish list?
I really wish for my Moroccan friends to be able to get the opportunity to discover Europe and other destinations together with me one day.
Thank you for taking part in our interview, Kerstin. I can hardly believe that it’s been over 20 years since I went to Marrakech but I have a suspicion that it is still very much the same as when I went there back in the late 1980s. If you would like to be interviewed on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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