A visit to Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot

A lunch at Richard Branson’s retreat, a mere 45 minutes drive from Marrrakech can be a good excuse to escape Marrakech and the hustle and bustle of its Medina and crowded souks. Most make it part of a day trip from Marrakech into the surrounding Atlas Mountains. Some also want to get a taste of the luxury they cannot otherwise afford (the rates for a night’s accommodation at Kasbah Tamadot start at 430 euros). After all, Kasbah Tamadot was a wealthy Italian’s antique dealer private residence before becoming Branson’s own property, supposedly spotted by the latter during one of his balloon flights around the world.

Library at Kasbah Tamadot

In our case, it was also a personal reason – we had lunch first time there 7 years ago and that had been arguably the best steak I had in Morocco. This time around we decided for something rather sober dish- wise: we started with ‘Crab and Mango Salad’ and ‘ Chicken with Almond Briouate’ for starters. The ‘Sirloin Steak’ and ‘ Mixed Kebab’ that followed were equally appetizing if somewhat a safe choice. I wish I could tell you what we had for desert but I got so taken away by the views that I completely forgot…

Lunch at Kasbah Tamadot

Lunch at Richard Bransons

In front of us, a breathtaking view of the  Mizane valley and the scattered adobe Berber villages. Down on the bottom, the river glitters making its way past nut trees and village women doing the laundry. On your right, in the distance, the over 3000-meter high snowcapped peaks of the Atlas Mountains.

View of Atlas Mountains and Kasbah Tamadot

That morning we embarked on our little day tour from Marrakech a little later than 9 AM. We hopped into a 4×4, managed to escape the traffic mayhem of downtown Marrakech and made our way up to Tahnaoute and then Asni, past suspended adobe Berber villages, the route following gorges and lush valleys. Snow on the peaks of the Atlas was at a maximum and the surrounding valleys were bright with pink in the middle of almond season.

Asni is 1150 meters high and famous for its Berber souk held every Saturday. Moulay Brahim, the village before it, holds a famous shrine , popular with visitors from the region coming to collect the baraka (good fortune) and used to be the favorite picnic place of Marrakchi families years ago. The road continues onwards to Ouirgane , the 12th century mosque of Tinmel and then the pass of Tizi n Test and on the other side Taroudant, making it one of the most scenic routes in Morocco, used by some of the off the beaten track 4×4 Morocco tours. We, instead,  turned right just after Asni and headed towards the village of Imlil, which at 1800 meters high, is the base for some of the most dramatic trekking in Morocco.

A few miles after the turn, an imposing villa appears in the distance and one can just about make out an infinity pool past the dense cypresses. Parking next to it and seeing the stone lions guarding the entrance, makes it clear this is not your regular Berber house, although the architecture on the outside has been kept local. A different story awaits you inside: while you cross the gardens and come upon the entrance and into the reception, you realize many objects around you come from India and other parts of Asia. We are shown around the property by the very hospitable guest relations manager and we start with the lounge, which has the appearance of an African lodge tent, complete with a bar, pool table and hanging terrace overlooking the dramatic valley.

Pool room at Kasbah Tamadot

We then visit a Deluxe Room, an exercise in luxury and linen. The glass bottles provided in the room contain water recycled locally at the Kasbah through their own patented system. Past the reflecting pool sidelined by small stone elephants, we step into the library and you don’t need to be into Dostoievsky to spend a few hours in here. Quite a few mysterious passage ways later, we find ourselves by the generous size indoor pool. Perhaps the most striking about the whole place is the ability to have incredible views, wherever you find yourself. Even here, at the lowest level of the house, the light coming through is more than inviting.

Lounge at Kasbah Tamadot

It’s lunch time and, in the outdoors restaurant overlooking the valley,  most of the guests are having their lunch. And why wouldn’t you ? It’s February and outside temperature is about 25 Celsius, so many guests are just wearing a t-shirt. A few fortunate ones are enjoying the heated infinity pool while we are passing through the gardens and past the tennis courts.

Infinity pool at Kasbah Tamadot

We reach the Berber Tents, each with its own plunge pool. Perhaps the word ‘tent’ is the least appropriate to describe the opulence inside – if this is one, than I could live in a tent for the rest of my life. The generous private sun deck and its own Jacuzzi are there to complement the rest. If that is not enough for you, isolated from the rest of the property, you have a 112 square meter Master Suite complete with three bedrooms, a huge roof terrace and your own private pool.

Berber tent

Kasbah Tamadot has in all, 27 rooms, suites and tents.  Yet I can’t recall seeing any hotel with this many public spaces and gardens. The architect has managed to strike that balance where even with all rooms occupied, guests will never feel crammed. There is so much public space around the property that you are almost guaranteed to find an isolated spot. And there is something for almost everyone to find here, from people in their 50’s and 60’s to couples coming for a romance or families with small children or teen agers. Also quite a few people on a private luxury Morocco tour spend a couple of nights here, on the way to or from the Sahara desert.

Deluxe room at Kasbah Tamadot

Speaking of children, this must be THE place to stay during summer holidays, when scorching temperatures assault Marrakech, making it too hot to stay in.  Special food and beverages or simple snacks and light meals can be prepared for all children. Film projections are arranged during the pleasant summer nights in the gardens by the outdoors pool. Dedicated babysitting is available with advance notice given. Peppermint, Parmasan, Peanut and Paprika, their four resident mules, are on hand to capture the children’s hearts.  That is, if Pickle and Pumpkin (the two camels) and Pudding, Plum and Peaches (the three donkeys) haven’t found them already!

Children can ride the resident mules, venture off on a Moroccan treasure hunt, participate in nature walks, take to the bumps on a four-wheel drive excursion, go on a horse and cart ride, or simply partake in Moroccan tea party, learn how to make delicious local dishes and splash around in the indoor or outdoor infinity pools.

I can understand now why many people like to visit Kasbah Tamadot or have lunch here on a day trip into the Atlas Mountains. I, for one, found it hard to leave…

Cristian Martinus is Managing Director at Sun Trails.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Comments (4)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Denise says:

    Kasbah Tamadot
    You visit to the hotel sounds great. I’m going to marakech next month and would like to do that day trip. Do you remember the tour company you went with.
    Many thanks Denise

  2. Paul Johnson says:

    Hi Denise

    Thanks for dropping by with a comment. Cristian runs a tour company… have a look at the Sun Trails link at the end of his article.

    Kind regards

    Paul

  3. Jerry says:

    I hope he is still with the company that does the tours. I sent him an email and hopefully when I am there in June we can go up to Kasbah.

  4. Denise says:

    Hey Jerry,
    I did go to kashbah Tamadot for lunch. I did a tour of the complex ( to get there had to hire a car and driver)
    If you are going please take ( if you have room in you suitcase) pens, pencils, cotton fabric.
    Or go to the Eva Branson foundation page.
    And see what supplies are needed.
    I went to the workshop to see what the girls were doing.
    A £10 spend will go a long way

Leave a Reply



Your actual name, not your online persona, website name, company name or keywords, otherwise your comment won't be published





Please do not advertise and make sure your comment adds value, otherwise we regret that it won't be published. Links are not allowed here - if you would like to advertise, please contact us for details.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.

Our readers also enjoyed these posts…