Kasbah Tamadot. An escape with a name literally meaning ‘soft breeze’, Richard Branson’s Moroccan hideaway is a haven of peace and serenity. Sitting gracefully on the precipice of a mountain, with soft valleys on either side, the pink palace is a haven from the madness of Marrakech. The city isn’t far. It’s a mere 45 minutes away in time, but worlds away in nature and emotion.
It is all approached through a seemingly passive looking wooden door – itself etched into a nondescript wall – leading to a red carpet welcome, where hosts dressed in traditional Berber garb greet guests with warm towels.
The main building is full of courtyards and windy stairways, each beckoning you towards a new experience: a rose filled pool, an interior laden with fruit trees, a restaurant of candle-light enhanced gilt work. Lofty rooms, garnished with turrets and tiles, embrace guests into this world of history – which is ironic, as the building is not old. It is modern, so has all the luxuries one would want, but feels steeped in history, even if it is not real. We recommend you stay in one of the hotel’s ‘Berber tents’, which may not be authentic – at all – but are wonderful in their canopied majesty, full of bright colours and many have their own, private Jacuzzis. You’ll forget the rest of the Kasbah exists.
Branson opened the hotel as a passion project; one which fosters the love he and his mother, Eve, share for the Moroccan countryside. The Eve Branson Foundation was created to help drive the local Berber communities forward. And it was whilst working for the Foundation that the building was discovered and fallen in love with. The crowning precipice of the charity, it now acts as a base for its work and promotion, visitors being encouraged to go and see – and hopefully donate to – the wonderful work carried out. There is a carpet workshop and craft house, as well as English lessons for all the locals who want to take part.
These communities really are the bloodline of the hotel. The Foundation’s dedication to the Kasbah’s neighbours inherently resulted in Branson hiring pretty much solely from local families. Friends and siblings began working there on its opening, and few have ever left. There is a love between colleagues rarely seen elsewhere; a love which extends to the loyal clientele who return year after year, enveloping their housekeepers, butlers and waiters with hugs too warm for their often British stature.
Many of the employees’ homes can be seen from the Kasbah’s pool, vegetable gardens, petting zoo and turrets (try breakfast on the roof amongst the crevices, where eggs and yoghurt can be gently enjoyed whilst peaking out onto snow-capped mountain tops). When not leisurely eating the most sparkling of tagines, sipping mint tea poured joyously by a Fez-capped gentleman in one of the many courtyards, guests are invited to trek to their homes and experience true Berber culture.
Whether or not this is a ploy to encourage donations to the Foundation, we are not sure. But it doesn’t really matter. When you leave the hotel, you want to donate. You want to be part of this community. You want – or rather, need – to come back to this little world of its own, one perched on a hilltop overlooking snow capped mountains, which you gaze upon whilst sunning yourself and listening to the entrancing calls to prayer. One which is as tranquil as soft breeze that lends Kasbah Tamadot its name.