Sunday, July 31, 2016

Join me to paint & tour in Spain and Morocco October 18-30, 2016

How to buy a magic carpet in Morocco!

If you've ever been taken to a rug merchant by a guide as part of your itinerary, you will most likely be taken to an Aladdin's cave, shown wonderful hospitality, given Moroccan mint tea and feted like royalty, as you are shown dazzling carpet after carpet, and offered amazing prices. 

This can be an exotic and unforgettable experience. Before you know it you’ve agreed to buy a rug for $1500 to $2000 and gained a free education  about the rug types. .

Whilst this is great fun and there are rugs of awesome quality and heritage, consider that you are a captive audience  in a controlled environment with few options on the lower end of the price spectrum.

On a tour there is the pressure that you will never go back through that area again, and you have a limited amount of time to make up your mind as the bus leaves in twenty minutes. It’s an ideal seller’s opportunity!

The business of carpet selling..........................Photo by Jacqueline Coates

Tour operators or guide or both will be given a commission or a rug based on how many sales take place and you will have paid top dollar including this commission for the touts.

I watched such an event unfold on a tour I was engaged in on my first trip to Morocco, and bought a lovely rug in these circumstances in the heat of the moment with rug after beautiful rug unfurling before my eyes. I never regretted the rug purchase because it was distinctive and beautiful but I didn’t know what else was on offer elsewhere.

However, at the next major stop, Marrakesh, I still went looking for more rugs because I was after a rag rug, a type of carpet made from recycled fabrics, and made by hand. This lead me to a rug merchant in the souks. He asked was I with a guide? I said no. He said he could offer me discount prices but not if I bought a guide back with me. The prices would have to be different if I was with a guide.

The rug merchant and his helpers then hauled hundreds of these incredible and colourful rugs out from the lower level of the shop. I ended up buying exquisite rag rugs for only $60-80 each. Then some of the other travellers decided to get some too, and we arranged shipping to Australia as a group as it was cheaper. For a fraction of the price of the first rug I had ten rugs! 

And what’s more they all arrived in Australia as promised. I had to meet the rugs at customs in Australia and watch while a big burly Aussie security guy checked them over. ‘Hope you don’t have any drugs in here as otherwise you go straight to jail’. I held my breathe but it was all fine! It took me a day of signing forms, paying duty, and showing receipts on behalf of the group. But we were all thrilled with our purchases and the prices and had incredible purchases for a fraction of the retail price in Australia.
Marrakesh Wares..........................Photo by Jacqueline Coates

My experience was that Moroccans are  honest and easy going people, but they have time honored ways of doing business different to ours. Its normal that a guide will want to make a buck out of the tourist or visitor. Everyone is crossing everyone’s palms with tips and commissions. Tour guides on reputable tours are looking to make extra cash and its considered a valid form of supplementary income. It’s the norm. So just go with it.

Even in this situation when I bought my friends back to look at the rugs the merchant took me aside and said I would get commission or extra rugs but he needed to know before he told my friends the prices. I declined, explaining I would prefer their best prices for me and my friends and wasn’t interested in taking commission and making money from my friends. He did some excellent deals as we bought so many between us. These same types of rugs were selling in Australia for upwards of $800 and being featured in major interior design magazines.

There are beautiful rugs everywhere in Morocco. Bear in mind you need to get them home. If you plan to buy a rug, try to travel light. Or throw out some things at the end of the trip to make room! They do pack up to be smaller than you think. Use your carry-on luggage space. Or get it sent to you.

Whether you shop with a guide or make your own choices, it’s all good fun. Enjoy the process!

PAINT & TOUR in Spain and Morocco October 18-30, 2016

Itinerary releasing this week.

6-8 guests only staying in unique accommodation. 

Two nights MADRID---7 nights MARRAKESH ---4 nights BARCELONA 
$6620pp inc tuition from Jacqueline Coates and art materials, flights in and out of Marrakesh, accom, some meals, transfers
and a 6 week online eclass course to get your warmed up before we leave! Paint at least ten paintings on tour!

To Reserve a place please contact Karen Caba;

Karen Caba
Elite Conference Management and Travel
6A First Street
Virginia,   QLD  4014
tel: 0411 603948 
ABN: 54854747594