The spotlight is on the colorful North African country of Morocco right now. Baroque Travel finds a place way off the beaten track where you can enjoy a taste of the desert and other delights
The south of Morocco is a relatively uninhabited place, a vast untouched desert area with a heavenly blue sky above it. Right at the gateway to the desert in Ouarzazate one finds a remote oasis, the luxurious boutique hotel called Dar Ahlam, located in a 19th century Kasbah in an idyllic setting that is quintessentially Moroccan.
Shaded by tall palm trees and built out of terracotta-colored stone, Dar Ahlam is a haven of tranquillity with manicured lawns and fragrant almond blossoms. A getaway here is an extraordinarily peaceful one, made even more unique with the option of an overnight stay in the desert itself, where guests sleep under the starlit sky in their private luxury tents.
In true Moroccan style, the colors of the sumptuous fabrics used in the hotel décor are what make it so exceptionally eye-catching and luxurious. This is a place to unwind without the stress of modern technology. There are no TVs at Dar Ahlam; instead, guests relax with an indulgent massage under the olive trees or savor refreshments by the river. In the balmy evenings, dinner is an indulgent, freshly prepared meal served on the roof of the Kasbah.
What makes Dar Ahlam so unique is the option to dine in the restaurant in a choice of corners and private lounges in the evenings, enjoying organic traditional dishes washed down with excellent Moroccan wines. During the day, light Mediterranean fare is served in a choice of locations, or on private picnics.
There are numerous activities to enjoy at the hotel, like lazing by the poolside, going on guided walks or enjoying a private picnic in the grounds. Desert adventures from the hotel include riding camelback through the dunes of the Sahara – and, of course, the highlight, spending a night under the stars in the desert.
Depending on when they visit, visitors spend their night in the desert in a choice of locations. In the cooler months, they stay in Dar Ahlam Nomade, a campsite in the midst of the desert dunes. Experiences include a tea ceremony at sunset, followed by an aperitif on top of a sand dune with dinner around the campfire before retiring to an elegant tent under the starlit sky. In the summer months, guests head for the Rose Valley for a night at the exclusive camp located there.
Some visitors prefer not to stay put at Dar Ahlam; instead they travel from Marrakech and stay in various oases found in this part of southern Morocco.
Dar Ahlam is a Relais & Châteaux luxury property offering seclusion and unobtrusive pampering. The property is located deep in the Skoura oasis and offers just 18 luxury suites, some inside the main building, others, with terraces, nestling in the gardens. Spacious and hidden behind wooden doors, they offer hours of respite from the bustling world outside. Dar Ahlam, or ‘House of Dreams’, as it translates from Arabic into English, also offers a spa, steam room and Hammam. In addition, guests can enjoy numerous outdoor activities including quad biking, hiking to experience the surroundings first hand and horse riding.