Meryanne Loum-Martin is a Parisian lawyer turned entrepreneur and founder of Jnane Tamsna, a boutique hotel located in Marrakech, Morocco. Beyond the fact that she has the only black woman-owned hotel in the area, she and her husband purchased land in 2000 and in less than one year, they built the hotel from the ground up. “At that time, I was a black woman in a country with a low percentage of black people,” says Loum-Martin. “I didn’t speak the language and the field of construction was very much a world of men who are known to ignore women. And you know what? We designed everything ourselves. My husband was responsible for the gardens and I was responsible for the architecture, interiors, and floor plans.”
Eighteen years later, her confidence, courage, and fierce determination have paid off—from five-star reviews and features in coffee table books and magazines like Elle, Vogue, and Town & Country, to venue host of stylish events such as “The IMARA Retreats: the Colored Girl” (a black female empowerment retreat that hosted powerhouses like Bozoma Saint John). Loum-Martin, who is half West Indian and half Senegalese, has no plans of slowing down.
We asked Loum-Martin to share her insights and tips on providing exceptional customer service experience.
My tips to individual hotel owners would be stick to your identity—it’s your strength and uniqueness. Don’t be shy to appear a bit eccentric, especially if it expresses your true self. Make a personal connection without being intrusive or too much present. People love connections and human experiences because this is what’s missing in our over-digitalized and corporate world.
We’ve created a property with a soul and I rely on our trained staff that have worked with us for over 15 years for this. We are here to create an experience and share the passion we have for the beautiful country of Morocco.
Having created an estate, we’re not interested in competing with conventional luxury. We offer supreme individuality. There’s no TV, no room service, no DJ by the pools but excellent Internet so people can be connected to CNN and the stock market. I have made a bet with some guests: the day the news will be good, we will have a TV in all rooms. Until then, enjoy the gardens.
Several times, I noticed that people whose lives would never have crossed were having the most interesting conversations by the fireplace and then decide to do activities and tour together. Our place creates a bridge between guests who have nothing else in common than staying at the same time at Jnane Tamsna and loving the experience.
We’re situated on nine acres of land, which includes five pools and one tennis court. We’re also very organic, grow our own food, and produce our own olive oil and the best fruit preserves. Our food is a fusion of Mediterranean food and modern Moroccan food. We have 635 century-old palm trees, olive trees, and orchard and vegetable gardens.
We have a very loyal clientele, who come back again and again and send their friends who could be anyone from Hollywood stars, musicians, models, writers, and even journalists—who just love to sit under the shade of our extraordinary trees, read, chat, or sip our own organic grapefruit juice.
We’ve hosted fascinating literary salons around famous writers. We host stays for garden lovers, lifestyle and design lovers, and culinary adventures.
Our own house is on-site and we often invite guests over for drinks. This gives a very different experience to a usual hotel stay. Lastly, our personal commitment to philanthropy and causes has always been accessible to our guests. We’re involved—from girls education in rural mountain areas to now assisting African migrants with medical and legal support, food, shelter, and opportunities. This project was started by our son.