This luxurious retreat is a delightful example of how to build a near-perfect romantic getaway that's eco-friendly to boot. British owner Stephen Skinner has a feel for decoration and service that should have other luxury hoteliers quaking in their boots. The hotel is perched on an outcrop overlooking a national park that staff fondly refer to as "Arizona" (though its real name is Isk-N-Tanoumiri National Park). Inhale the lavender-scented gardens and take a moment to marvel at the fully biological herb and vegetable beds, the two pools, the terraces and arbors (hung with vines and roses), and a lawn any Englishman would die for. What is so extraordinary about this refuge (just a short journey from Marrakesh) is that it looks as if it has occupied its lofty position for generations, when in fact, it was built from scratch only a few years ago. True, Skinner had the help of a highly trusted and loyal workforce. True also that he snapped up some enviable bargains in Marrakesh's bazaar.
What his fantastic manager Amanda (who is responsible for the gardens and married to the highly gifted chef) will tell you is that staff and guests alike warm to what the kasbah's owner has achieved here. All water is recycled, much of the power is solar (although Bab Ourika has its own generator), beauty products are supplied by nearby Nectarome, and salt comes from the mines below. The hotel also contributes to the local villages and is one of the most eco-friendly hotels in Morocco; it's constructed principally from rammed earth, the traditional Berber building technique. The thick walls provide such good insulation that air-conditioning is unnecessary, but each room has a fan in case you get too warm.