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Kasbah Bab Ourika Review
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 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 a very 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. The Kasbah is one of the most eco-friendly hotels in Morocco; constructed principally from rammed earth, the traditional Berber building technique. The thick walls provide such good insulation that air-conditioning is unnecessary, although you may wish to request a fan.
Just 40-minutes from Marrakesh , above a hamlet in the Ourika Valley is an Atlas hideaway that exudes contentment and calm. Each turn within these thick rammed earth walls offers a delight or surprise; from treasures snapped up at Marrakesh's art deco bazaar to petal-filled fountains and Berber textiles, adorning the exquisite rooms. The location is exceptional and the cuisine exquisite, but what makes the Kasbah stand out is the delightful staff that can barely conceal their pride in what owner Stephen Skinner has achieved here—employment, a new well, regeneration of their Berber salt mines, and improved irrigation, so vital to the local farmers.