Mr S and I relax back in the cool comfort of the air-conditioning of a luxury car; we’ve just been fast-tracked through Marrakech airport and are now making our way through the winding roads up to the lofty heights of the Atlas Mountains bound for Kasbah Tamadot, one of the most luxurious hotels in Morocco.
Kasbah Tamadot, meaning ‘soft breeze’ will take your breath away immediately, owned by Sir Richard Branson and part of the Virgin Limited Edition Collection it’s truly out of this world.
Our journey here couldn’t have been more hassle-free having been organised by Original Travel, a luxury travel company who specialise in creating tailor made itineraries and unique experiences.
My story with Original Travel began back in May when I began honing the perfect itinerary with one of the destination experts on the team. With one personal point of contact this was easy and it wasn’t long before we had planned the perfect trip from the Atlas Mountains to Marrakech incorporating luxury hotels and local activities.
A month before our trip I was sent a beautifully presented pack containing everything that I needed for our luxury trip to Morocco including a Final Documents letter outlining what I needed to know about our trip, a stunningly illustrated itinerary with full details of what we would be doing and the places we were staying plus a dossier of other ideas for things to do, restaurants and bars. The pack also included all the documents I needed for travel such as boarding passes, lounge passes and a fast track letter, all easy and ready printed for me.
As someone that enjoys the paper-free life, the team at Original Travel suggested that I also downloaded their app so I could have all of this information on my phone. Plus a countdown to the holiday (I love a countdown app!), maps of the area and the local weather. All things I constantly check before a trip.
The trip was made even easier by the Airport Meet and Greet that Original Travel provide as part of the standard service. As soon as we got off the train we were met by a member of the team, fast tracked through check-in and whizzed through UK security to quickly arrive in the comfort of the airport lounge before taking our pre-booked seats on the plane. As the plane landed and I turned on my phone, I had an email from our dedicated local concierge. Jessica, who knew the area inside and out and was on the end of an email or what’s app for the duration of our trip. I’ll tell you a little more about Jessica in my next post because she was indispensable whilst we were in Marrakech but for now I can’t wait to tell you more about the utterly stunning Kasbah Tamadot.
Richard Branson visited Kabah Tamadot whilst undertaking his round the world hot air balloon trip, after his parents Ted and Eve Branson discovered it. Their dream was achieved when he purchased the property and opened it up as a luxury hotel in 2005.
Previously owned by Luciano Tempo, a renowned antiques dealer and interior designer, Sir Richard also inherited a treasure trove of goodies from his collection that he used to furnish the hotel. The hotel’s fort-like facade is stunning but step inside and you see the hotel library, furnished with stunning antiques, furniture and sculptures collected from Tempo’s travels through India, Indonesia and North Africa.
From here you can step into the gorgeous courtyard, a feature common in Moroccan residences, including a beautiful flower fountain and a labyrinthine network of staircases leading up the ramparts, to roof terraces and some of the hotel’s twenty-eight bedrooms.
Here you can stop, draw up a comfy cushion and meet one of Kasbah Tamadot’s longest standing staff members for tea.
Sir Richard Branson is dedicated to the local community and established free English classes for locals when he bought the property – even if they chose not to apply for a job at the hotel. With a dedication to the development of local tourism and responsibility to the environment, it’s no wonder the staff have stayed here for so long.
The Eve Branson Foundation is also central to the charitable purposes of the hotel. Eve Branson (Richard’s mum), helps the local communities set up their own businesses including making handmade items sold in the hotel’s Berber Boutique. The boutique even has the authentic feeling of a Marrakech market.
Another gorgeous spot was the hotel’s inner decorative pool, sometimes filled with petals and a beautiful scenic place for dinner.
Named ‘Asounfou’ after the Berber word for relaxation, the spa is a haven of tranquility. We didn’t have time to have treatments but we loved the indoor heated pool and for the true Moroccan experience you can sample the hammam. Otherwise there’s a selection of therapies such as facials and massages some of which use local Le Sens De Marrakech skin care or Moroccan Damask Rose.
Enter out of the network of courtyards and you’ll see the utterly stunning pool… fringed by Mount Toubkal and the peaks of the majestic Atlas Mountains that reach to the clouds.
Surrounded by plenty of places to relax and take in the views…
Some nights a cinema screen is set up at the end of the pool so that you can watch Casablanca under the stars!
And dining is by design at Kasbah Tamadot and guests can enjoy a dinner, drinks, dessert or just a lounge in these super cute tents next to the pool. We had our lunch in the main restaurant and decided to finish off with ice creams in the comfort of the tents.
From the pool, you can get lost in the lush gardens that surround the property – the soft scent of fruit trees and roses was just so evocative and a pleasure to walk through from our room to breakfast and dinner each day.
Scattered throughout the gardens you’ll find other places to explore… we came across something different every time we walked through them like a wonderland of delights.
There are tennis courts, a ping pong table and a beautiful herb garden where fruits and vegetables for the restaurants are sourced…
There’s even a traditional Berber kitchen where the bread is prepared for the meals. You can chat to the cook and steal a piping hot piece of flat bread!
But delve even further into the gardens and you’ll meet the other residents of Kasbah Tamadot: four mules, three donkeys and two camels. There are lots of other wildlife to be spotted around the property too such as gorgeous birds, resident cats and I even saw the cutest baby hedgehog.
The hotel has twenty-eight rooms and suites that have all been individually decorated with Moroccan-influenced furnishings. Our room was nestled at the bottom of the secret garden and was one of the ten Berber tents that are a unique feature of the hotel.
Our tent was incredibly private with a garden in front containing all sorts of quirky decorations.
Of course don’t let the name ‘tent’ fool you; stepping inside opens up a whole world of luxury, Morrocan-style! Now I’ve stayed in tented accommodation before but never as luxuriously appointed as the Berber tents at Kasbah Tamadot.
From the carved doors, to the intricately designed desk and the hanging lights, the room decor felt highly evocative and gave a real sense of place.
Thoughtful little treats were left for us such as biscuits, dried fruit, tea, books on the local area and best of all, our very own Berber hats! There’s a complimentary mini bar (my three favourite words…), Bose iPod, a coffee machine and binoculars to stare off into the distance at that gorgeous view.
The bathroom is beautifully impressive too, with a roll top bath, double sinks, an absolutely huge shower and gorgeous mosaic tiles. It’s always nice to have luxurious products in the bathroom but even better to go the extra mile and have bespoke products made especially for the hotel.
The service in the hotel is utterly wonderful. The kind of place where nothing is too much trouble…including a rose petal bath! We actually noticed rose petals scattered all around the hotel, filling the place with the most wonderful scent.
Each of the Berber tents has a private terrace – ours had a spectacular view of the Atlas Mountains and a private jacuzzi to enjoy it in! We were told our room actually had one of the best views in the hotel!
Ready to talk food? The hotel’s Kanoun Restaurant over looks the pool and serves the very best local and international food and wine for lunch and dinner.
One day there was beautifully prepared breakfast buffet to choose from, the next a tray table of treats was prepared for us. Both days we ordered from the à la carte menu too – our favourite dish being the traditional baked Berber eggs.
Lunch is very relaxed at the hotel and you can take a seat in the restaurant or pick one of the shady areas in the bar… or even take your tagine by the pool.
Remember that freshly baked Berber bread? That’s served at lunch with traditional dips and the finest olive oil.
We chose a beautifully fresh tuna tartare and prawn salad for our starters… and we couldn’t come to Morocco without sampling the tagine (and we did several times!). My chicken was perfectly cooked and juicy and Mr S loved his lamb shank.
The setting and menu varies for dinner and it is a more glamorous and gourmet affair… the first night we took a seat on the roof terrace for an innovative tasting menu.
I have to say the seasonal apple theme of the menu that we had on the first night wasn’t quite my cup of tea our starter was apple and avocado tartare with a fish course of sea bass with broccoli and granny smith apple puree and a beautifully cooked duck served with caramelised apple. Dessert was slow cooked red apple sourced in the local town of Asni.
The next night, bad weather meant that we ate in the hotel’s indoor dining room, usually reserved for winter nights. The à la carte menu featured crisp borek, delicious fresh seafood and a flavoursome chicken tagine. I loved the light fruity dessert too.
As well as the Pool bar, you can also have a cocktail in the Asmoun Lounge, a tented bar at the front of the hotel filled with games and activities, comfy sofas, beautiful textiles and lanterns.
The views out to the Berber villages are some of the best in the house too!
There’s so much to do around the hotel from visiting the camels, tennis, the pool, spa and gym but the hotel and Original Travel can organise excursions too. Such as mule treks, Atlas mountain treks, a visit to 12th century Tin Mal Mosque or an interactive cookery class with the chefs at Kasbah Tamadot. In order to optimise our short time in the hotel, a scenic drive back to Marrakech was suggested to us. The scenic route adds around forty-five minutes on to the drive back to Marrakech but we were able to see the spectacular scenary of Kik Plateau without losing time at the hotel.
Regular readers will know how meticulous I am when it comes to planning my travels and I could not have been more impressed by the attention to detail demonstrated by Original Travel both in the lead up to our trip and while we were in Morocco. I also highly recommend the beautiful Kasbah Tamadot which was the perfect choice of property and the ideal way to begin our magical Moroccan adventure.
Original Travel (020 3582 4990/www.originaltravel.co.uk) offers a five-day trip to Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains, staying at Kasbah Tamadot and Villa des Orangers, from £3,250 per person. Price includes a private expert-led walking tour in Marrakech, all accommodation, flights and private transfers.
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I visited the Atlas Mountains as part of a press trip in collaboration with Original Travel.