After specialising in the exotic chaos of Morocco for decades, customised luxury tour operator Carol Prior of By Prior Arrangement is getting ready to unveil some of her other favourite destinations in true Prior style.
When you’ve spent the past 40 years taking people on luxury personalised tours through Morocco, it’s natural to ask Carol Prior (or Mrs Morocco, as she’s known in the industry), why she’s expanding her offerings to include South Africa, Scotland and France. To someone as well travelled as Prior, “why not?” is an appropriate response. The tours are all to places she knows intimately, either through her work as an interior designer or during extended stays with friends.
The art of joie de vivre in France
The nine-day Malbec and Magret tour in France, for example, is all about living the good life in the “untouristy, unspoilt” French countryside about two hours from Toulouse. As well as wine tasting, seeing the sights, and relaxing in an old monastary restored by one of Prior’s friends, guests will have the chance to explore their creative side. “I have two artist friends down there who are going to take everyone painting down by the river,” Prior says, clearly delighted. “We’ll have a bottle of wine cooled in the river and some lovely bread and cheese as we paint and sketch.”
New tours for 2016
In other new tour offerings this year, South African interior designer John Crawley will co-lead a tour from Rabat to Marrakech (15-29 April). In March, well-known travel writer/photographer team Lee Tulloch and Tony Amos will be sharing their knowledge on a small-group Morocco tour and, in May, writer and music expert Glenn A. Baker will lead a tour called Moroccan Music Odyssey.
A culinary South African adventure with Martin Boetz is booked out, but there are still places available on the five-day tour of Glasgow following in the footsteps of architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Hidden gems of Morocco and beyond
No matter the destination, Prior’s tours take guests behind the scenes to discover hidden-away restaurants frequented by locals, the markets where they shop for food, and the dishes they prepare. Cooking with a local chef in their own kitchen is often on the itinerary.
The advantages of travelling By Prior Arrangement
One of the big benefits of joining a customised tour or arranging a trip of your own through By Prior Arrangement is that you can make changes as you go depending on how you feel on the day or what you’re most interested in – the food, interior design, architecture, or culture. Or, of course, shopping. “There’s nothing that isn’t flexible,” Prior says.
As well as talking through their wants and expectations in depth before a trip, Prior says her knowledge and contacts on the ground ensure a trip’s success. The right guides and drivers alone can mean the difference between an ordinary and an extraordinary adventure.
Carol Prior: Fostering a love of travel
Prior grew up in Sydney’s Rose Bay and later England, often traversing the oceans in between by ship. “It was a very gypsy-like childhood,” she says. She studied interior design in London and worked on projects in the UK, France and South Africa before combining her love of design with her love of travel.
She first set foot in Morocco with her first husband in the 1970s – he was in the army so they were living for a time in Gibraltar. “The moment I stepped off that boat, there were blue men from the desert, camels and snake charmers; I just loved how exotic it all was,” Prior says. “Patrick was offered 17 camels for me – If he’d accepted, I’d have had a very different life!”
The first visit
Prior ended up living in Morocco for 10 years and still spends several months a year there seeing friends and entertaining clients.
Seeing a destination through the eyes of first-time visitors is why Prior loves what she does. “Hearing people talking about how wonderful it was is pretty rewarding and they are so grateful for the experience,” she says.
To book any of these tours or to enquire about customised travel, visit By Prior Arrangement online.