Atlas Mountains, Morocco: Kasbah Tamadot
The Kasbah Tamadot is peacefully perched on a tamed hilltop within the extensive reaches of Atlas Mountain range. Though graced by the friendly presence of neighboring Berber villages, it is not too far from modern civilization since the property maintains an address that is only an hour ride from the bustle of Marrakech. Where the air is crisp and clear, the High Atlas Mountains have climbed in popularity by means of its magnificently positioned eco-tourism offerings where visitors are urged to maximize their exposure to the beautiful land and learn about the endangered wildlife. There is an abundance of exotic bird species, sheep, wild horses and Barbary leopards. Immerse in breathtaking views of the red-hued “basement rock,” which is rich in natural resources and visually tells the story of Earth’s history as it has evolved for millions of years into its final formation as seen today.
At the behest of his parents, Richard Branson purchased this property, which was the home of an internationally renowned interior designer and he transformed the property to meet the lofty standards of his prolific brand. As one of the many properties that represent Virgin domain, it was imperative to maintain this estate’s original charm and to create a full submersion into cultural traditions juxtaposed with meticulous architectural restoration as well as innovative landscape amenities. Showcasing a wealth of art and antiques found locally and from around the world as provided by the former owner, the contemporary touches and upgrades are perfectly matched to blend with the local style. Representing the ideals of regional taste from the rustic palate and Moorish details of the exterior, the multi-level estate is harmoniously in tune with the surrounding environment and in the optimal orientation to leverage magical vistas of the looming mountainsides.
Arriving at the entrance of the Kasbah Tamadot emanates an authentic feeling of “home.” The first welcoming sensation is the crispness of the air, raising your eyes to wander overhead at the depth of the blue sky. As you walk through the structure to the main terrace, you come to witness an incredible panorama overlooking the pool to the rhythm of mountaintops beyond. At this moment, the majestic view presents a wave of serenity that sets the mood for the remainder of your stay. Rows of prim Cyprus trees are lined at the perimeter of the property and the greenery of the valley is surprisingly lush considering its proximity to the arid Sahara Dessert.
Of the 28 aptly named rooms and suites that compose this quaint property, there is a very unique type of accommodation that furthers your experience of cultural immersion. The Berber Tent suites mirror the indigenous lifestyle of surrounding Berber villages, which can be spotted just outside the encampment of Kasbah Tamadot. You are invited to take a closer look at native life and the wild organic backdrop with a pair of binoculars provided in your room. The newly constructed tent is a very private, quiet and special place. With its own walkway, you can be easily absorbed in solitude and surrounded only by the naturally occurring vegetation. This tremendous space encompasses the bedrooms, living area, and spacious bathroom that features an antique clawed-foot bathtub. What is impressive about this tent is the sweeping picturesque views of the mountains and the neighboring town that can be cherished from your own deck as well as from the seat of your private sunken Jacuzzi.
All of the rooms are elaborately decorated in the Moroccan traditional style with a very rich and vivid palate of colors. The furnishings and finishes are beautifully crafted and styled amid numerous complimentary amenities including a stocked mini-bar and a pair of locally handcrafted leather Moroccan slippers gifted to you to recall the pleasant memories of your stay long after you return home. The overwhelming generosity and pleasant surprises of the Kasbah Tamadot evoke the feeling of being pampered by a lavish host as a guest in a luxurious home.
The palatial setting around the heated outdoor pool is just as intriguing as the deluxe and innovative design used to construct it. Raised to be eye-level with the surrounding trees, the terrace and glass-like surface of the water form one seamless contour that is virtually unbroken and creates a deep turquoise horizon as it cuts off into a dramatic infinity-edge amidst the forest. This same clay-colored terrace is carried along the line of the property and extends out into another small platform that houses a massive screen for films that are projected outdoors. You can enjoy the entertainment from inside a second, organically contoured basin; from under carpeted palapas draped in wind-swept linen; or from the stepped knolls of the adjacent grassy hill. Carved out of this lush landscape in an amphitheater array, are comfortable nooks designed for sitting and lounging on oversized cushioned daybeds.
Just above the pool is a fantastic open-air dining terrace where breakfast and lunch are served daily. Al fresco Breakfast is presented as a delicious assortment of foods that are both Moroccan and Western cuisine. You can enjoy eggs cooked in authentic tagine while gazing at the beautiful mountain range, nearby towns and their stunning juxtaposition. Dinner is a very interesting experience as it can be served in several different places around the property. The selected location is chosen based on the time of year, weather, as well as any other special circumstances and is announced to the guests at 5 pm that same day. During my stay, dinner was served on an elegant rooftop with an unobstructed view of stars. Nearby on the deck was a huge telescope that you can peer through to be face to face with the constellations as they felt as though they were within arm’s reach. There was a curious bright light radiating from behind the closer mountaintops as though there was a party being held just on the other side. The light grew brighter and brighter as the sky grew dimmer and what slowly peered from behind the peak was the moon. The light was radiating from the moon itself. The surface’s reflection was beaming as this was surely the brightest and most beautiful moon rise I have ever witnessed. To see the moon suspended over the enchanting scenic backdrop was an astonishingly beautiful sight.
Kanoun Restaurant’s acclaimed Executive Chef was the perfect host during my visit. Journeying from Michelin starred kitchens earning a global acumen for his attention to detail, we found ourselves having a dialogue about how Kasbah Tamadot is where he sought to become a part of such a “special place” in the world. After a conversation about our interests in cuisine, he personally curated an amazing tasting menu that was a selection of the flavors of Morocco and he demonstrated his lucid understanding of the magical feeling we wished to possess. Each course was Michelin star worthy and each better than the next. Through authentic Morrocan dishes as well as International cuisine we tasted a myriad of flavors with exciting yet palatable dynamics. The ingredients themselves were simply outstanding. For instance, since apples were in season at the time, they were picked from the trees of the Kasbah, prepared and freshly served in a delightful dessert. In an instant the kitchen was able to procure the freshest and most immaculate elements from their garden such as oil pressed from the on-site olive grove or delicacies produced from their gardens and fruit trees.
At Kasbah Tamadot, you feel profoundly connected to nature and yet so far away from the rest of the world and everyday life. This site is perfect for a romantic escape for two, special occasions, event takeovers, weddings, groups, couples, or individuals who are seeking a secluded spa destination. The Asounfou Spa is a low-rise building unto its own and features a magnificent reflecting pool upon entering that serves as the center of tranquil activity indoors. Fine-tuned in authentic detail and pristine finishes, it is an understatement to describe the setting as simply serene. A visit to the spa is imperative even just for the experience of the Moroccan hammam where the ultra-cleansing sensation of the black soap is an absolute must. The plush treatment rooms are cozy and well-equipped for an assortment of uplifting therapeutic sessions.
This fantastic retreat invites you to look beyond the beaten path to experience an off-the-grid environment that is steeped in local Moroccan tradition and majestic mountainside glamour. The Kasbah Tamadot represents the peak of natural respite, a dynamic fusion of modernity and antiquity, the highest standards in hospitality and cuisine, and is an incredible asset to the coveted Virgin Collection.