Gwyneth Paltrow, Jen Aniston and other A-listers also go to the North African nation for a gala

By David Caplan
Updated November 27, 2009 04:50 PM
Richard Young/Startraks

Jennifer Aniston jetted to Morocco Thursday, joining a slew of other high-wattage celebs, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Orlando Bloom, Adrien Brody and Salma Hayek at the lavish gala for the reopening of Marrakesh’s famed La Mamounia hotel.

“It’s sad to be away from America on Thanksgiving,” Aniston, who stopped in London before arriving in Marrakesh, told PEOPLE. “But I actually had my meal last week in L.A. with friends.” She added, “I was last here 10 years ago, so I am happy to be back.”

As Aniston, who wore a gown by Celine, approached La Mamounia’s red carpet, a throng of photographers knocked over a large lamp, giving the actress a bit of a scare. She later joked, “What am I thankful for? After that, I m happy to be alive!”

Paltrow, who attended the gala without husband Chris Martin, was less sentimental about missing Thanksgiving. “It’s fine,” she told PEOPLE. “I mean, my mom is in Los Angeles, my brother is in New York, and I am in London, but it’s not a holiday there. My kids don’t get off from school, so I figured I would take off for a few days, and it’s wonderful to be here. It’s my first time in Morocco.”

Hayek also celebrated the hotel’s reopening without her other half, husband Fran ois-Henri Pinault, who remained in Paris with their daughter Valentina. But he was close to her heart – literally: She wore a gown from Gucci, part of the French luxury and retail group PPR SA, which owns the designer label, and of which Pinault is the chief executive.

On the other hand, Bloom arrived with girlfriend, model Miranda Kerr. “Miranda and I spend so much time apart, she’s working hard, I’m working hard, so we have to grab time together whenever we can,” Bloom said. “A weekend here, a weekend there.”

As for ongoing engagement rumors, he said, “We are just enjoying our time together now.” Bloom, who flew from the U.S. but changed planes in London, where he met up with Kerr, then looked at her, and said, “But doesn’t she look lovely tonight.”