One man’s mission in the Berber mountains of Morocco
A British man, Paul Foulsham, has created Kasbah Angour, a Berber castle-style hotel in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco (opened March 2011). Some would call it a labour of love, but Paul prefers to talk about respecting the mountain environment and being a catalyst for job creation for the local Berber population.
Comments Paul, “I worked in Morocco for 5 years from 1991 to 1996, mining baryte for the oil industry, and during that time the country seeped into my soul. I had a vision to create a special, traditional-looking property in the Atlas Mountains, within an hour of Marrakech Airport, whilst at the same time respecting the culture of the Berbers who lived there.
“We were very lucky to find such a hilltop location with some of the best panoramic views in Morocco. The land was previously a site of limited agricultural value, so the change of its use for a tourist project has been very positive for employment in the local area.
“Kasbah Angour is the result of this vision and now I am enjoying showing overseas guests the wonderful arts and craft traditions in Morocco; many examples of these can be found throughout the hotel, from the mirrors in the bedrooms to the hand-made furniture in the restaurant.”
One of the biggest challenges that Paul faced at the outset was to create something that would blend in with the scenic beauty of the Atlas Mountains, so it was decided to build the hotel in the traditional architectural style of a Berber-castle, perched on its hilltop location.
All the stone used for the walls of the building was collected from the local river bed, as it was periodically washed down by mountain storms, and solar panels were installed to take advantage of the natural energy provided by the hot Moroccan sun. They now provide hot water and under-floor heating. When necessary, the heat is supplemented by heat from high-efficiency gas condensing boilers.
Kasbah Angour has its own well which provides water which descends from the surrounding mountains. Many of the plants in the hotel’s pretty 5-hectares of gardens were carefully selected for their ability to resist the harsh climate and also to prevent soil erosion. The formal sections of the gardens – which have rose and other flower beds – are watered by efficient, drip-feed irrigation.
Trees, including fir, olive, almond, fig and pomegranate were planted and they have made a big difference to the natural environment and attract a large variety of birds.
Other parts of the grounds are dedicated to growing fruit and vegetables which are used by the chefs in Kasbah Angour’s modern kitchen to create traditional Berber meals including lamb tajine with quince and beef couscous. The hotel is fully-licensed to serve alcohol and offers a choice of good Moroccan wines.
A 4-night stay at Kasbah Angour from now until the end of September costs from £299 per person in a Valley room & £335 per person in a Mountain room. Prices include full-board accommodation and airport transfers. Flights to Marrakech are bookable online with BA, EasyJet, Ryanair, Thomson & Royal Air Maroc.
For more information, visit kasbahangour.com.