Born to Roam: Meryanne and Thais

 In our latest Tastemakers series, we explore women whose passports leave no page unstamped – and the impact that has had on their lives and style.Nestled in the Palmeraie district of Marrakech, amidst the vibrant tapestry of Moroccan culture, lies a gem unlike any other: Jnane Tamsna. It’s a sanctuary where art, architecture, and nature intertwine harmoniously. At its heart is the visionary force of Meryanne Loum-Martin, Morocco's sole black female hotelier, whose eclectic background- which spans from law and anthropology to interior design - infuses every corner of the hotel with the sense of a life well lived, and even better travelled.We caught up with Meryanne and Thais at Jnane Tamsna, the location for our Under The Sun campaign, to hear what led her to Marrakech, and the diverse cultures and travel experiences that have inspired her.

What first led you to Morocco, and ultimately the creation of your boutique hotel?

Meryanne: I was a lawyer in Paris when I discovered Marrakech in 1985. I started coming once a month, and encouraged by my parents based in Paris, bought land and designed a holiday house for them. I turned it into a business which won the Harpers & Queens award of the “Best Private Rental in the World”. One thing led to another and in 1996, my husband and I decided to move here as a trial as Paris did not work for us anymore and, with a young family, we wanted another life.

 Once here, I needed to work, so I created my own job. Since I love architecture and design, I first created a concept store in the Medina. I rehabilitated a grand old house and turned it into a store that looked like a private home to visit. Then we bought land in the Palmeraie in 2000 and built our hotel from scratch in 2001, and in the record time of 11 months and 3 weeks, since we were fully booked before we started digging! Even though the deadline was very stressful, it was an unexpected turn in our life; a Parisian lawyer turning into a self-taught architect and an anthropologist turned into a landscape designer, for my husband.

Thais: This is for my mother to answer properly as I my being wasn’t even a concept yet when she first arrived in Morocco. But I will say the seed of Jnane Tamsna was planted by mother’s dream to make beautiful homes full of soul and my father’s dream to create a sustainable garden full of diversity, so we could live off the land. 

Describe what makes Marrakech so magical

Meryanne: Marrakech is the essence of modernity for us. It is the crossroads of many cultures, with its history, social buzz, creativity, a wealth of craftsmanship, and a constant mystery and joy.

What I love is that thanks to the internet, we can work remotely on projects anywhere and at the same time, an hour later, be walking in a part of the old Medina that was there in the Middle Ages. I believe that with the constant growth of population it will become the most exciting international hub to live in, it is the case for us. And most of all, Marrakech retains its own fascinating and ancient culture while offering the best that modern day has to offer

Thais: The way it stimulates all the senses. The light, which has had artists spellbound for centuries, gives a glow to life here that makes the most ordinary moments feel cinematic. The smells, from amber incense being burnt to ward off evil spirits, to the scent of freshly baked that drifts through medina alleys faster than the motorbikes whizzing by. I’ve called this place home for most of my life and yet the magic never wears off. And the people the city draws are so vibrant, conscious and creative. There’s always a sense of wonder and inspiration floating in the air.


How do you incorporate this into unique design of Jnane Tamsna? 

Meryanne: Jnane Tamsna was designed as a private house, where people could stay in “hotel rooms”. All rooms are different, like a house, and you have a sense of a coherent design thread. Almost everything’s been brought back from our travels, books, art, old photos, antiques, flea market troves, rugs, objects, but the majority found in Morocco. Sometimes I design the furniture, and it is produced by the craftsmen I have worked with for over twenty years. If I was to use a few words to describe our place: timeless, bohemian, and eclectic.

Thais: Jnane Tamsna certainly embodies this multi sensory Marrakech energy. It’s full of colour, with our yellow walls, verdant organic gardens and that crisp blue sky contrasting to create a striking balance between what we’ve built and planted, and all that has been here long before us. This harmony, whether it is the design or in our farm to table cuisine, complements the city’s energy, while also providing a refuge of serenity from the wonderfully intense bustle of the Medina.


How would you describe Jnane Tamsna to a stranger ?

Meryanne: A place to stay where architecture and nature are in a constant dialogue. We grow our own food. We constantly host creatives. The hotel has a “salon mood” mixed with a house party vibe in the evening. As it is on 10 acres, there are plenty of space for people to be totally on their own if they wish. Each room has a story, and we will try to make you feel that if you had a house in Marrakech, this would be it. 

Thais: My father and I like to joke that Jnane Tamsna is a cultural space that happens to have rooms to rent. I’d say it’s a home away from home for people from across the world, where they can indulge in delicious cuisine whilst also looking after their health, and meet kindred spirits whilst being serenaded by the birds perched atop our hundreds of palm trees. I like to think of it as a space where travel is elevated to transformation.

You  work with your daughter Thaïs Sala on the artistic direction of Jnane Tamsna. How do your visions differ?

Meryanne: My daughter Thaïs has brought the energy of her generation to the business, with her very social personality and unlimited creativity. Like me she is a citizen of the world, and she is in charge of running our cultural events and numerous retreats. It is very exciting to have created a business when one of our two children can find its own path of development and achievement.

Thais: We tend to have aligned philosophies when it comes to the creative identity of the space. At times the communities we will each respectively invite into the space may differ in background, but it all converges so seamlessly. We love collaborating with established and up and coming creatives, and we have overlapping yet different networks that we get to tap into for this. I wouldn’t say that our visions differ so much as just having different people on our radar, whose values align with our own.

Which location is on your travel-list for 2024?

Meryanne: I am invited to speak at a conference in Colombia and can’t wait to discover that country. I have a passion for India and I wish I could go every year! 

Thais: My style changes so much from one day to the next. I can wake up on a Monday and feel like dressing for a part in The Matrix, black from head to toe (not my mother’s favourite outfits of mine haha) and the next day I’ll be wearing Indian block-printed fabrics full of colour and pattern. I love to play around with these different style identities depending on my mood. Vintage denim is definitely my wardrobe staple, with waterproof boots that serve me as well on the dance-floor as they do in snowy Montreal, where I spend part of my time to make music. I’d say my style icons are Sade, Loulou de la Falaise, and of course, my mother.

Who or what has inspired your unique personal style? 

Meryanne: A very diverse identity, numerous travels, the constant curiosity that my mother instilled in me since I was seven years old.

Thais: The Tie Dye Bias Slip Dress, which I can’t wait to wear to our summer parties, really captures two of the styles Marrakech embodies for me: delicate, classic elegance with an earthier, bohemian chic. The Celeste blue (one of my favourite colours!) evokes the poolside, blue sky vibes we get to enjoy year-round, while the terracotta shade embodies how close we get to be to the earth and all the wonderful things it gifts us with, from our organic veggies to the hum of bees and birds making the gardens buzz.


Which piece from the Under The Sun collection captures the spirit of Marrakech

Meryanne: So many pieces of this amazing collection! The pinks and terracotta by their colors and patterns reflect Marrakech, and the greens reflect the Palmgrove oasis where we are! 

Thais: I’m going back to Biarritz for the first time in years, and I’ve already mentally packed my slip dress! I’ll also be celebrating my birthday in Barcelona with a great squad of friends this year - the perfect vibe to twirl around in it under the Catalan sun.

Photography by Alicia Waite
Meryanne and Thais' looks from our new collection coming soon....