A fifty minute drive away from Agadir airport, the scenery changes dramatically. This could be the setting for a film: the snow-covered peaks of the Atlas Mountains in the background, and ahead of me the olive groves, orange trees and the red adobe city wall of Taroudant, a wonderful city that is sometimes referred to as “little Marrakech”. In short, the surroundings are very promising indeed! Time to find the Local Hideaway in question, just outside of Taroudant – à la campagne – where my directions tell me to look for a single purple gate.

The door opens and the owner, Ollivier, bids me a warm welcome. When I look around, I am completely overwhelmed: rarely have I seen such a spectacular and unique garden. A paradise! This oasis was designed by landscape architects Arnaud Maurières and Eric Ossart and is home to over 900 different species of plants and trees that were collected all over the world. Some are even unique in their kind. Ollivier shows me around and talks about Dar al Hossoun excitedly. Such a quiet place, the only sounds you hear come from the resident peacocks. How fascinating it is to wander around here and discover new things everywhere you look. Even the swimming pool is fabulously integrated in the entire setting and reminds me of ancient Moor palaces.

All the rooms, living rooms and hammams are located in single storey buildings made of rammed-earth walls (cool in the warm months and comfortably warm when it gets chillier outside).  All are tastefully and comfortably decorated with local works of art and various ‘objets trouvés’, brought home from his extensive travels by Ollivier. The spacious bathrooms are in perfect harmony with their natural surroundings, often overlooking a small patio complete with an exotic tree or plant….and of course, your privacy is always guaranteed. There is also an adapted room for disabled travellers, allowing them to enjoy a carefree holiday here as well. Naturally, sustainability is very important in these beautiful surroundings, and Dar al Hossoun is Green Key certified.

After having spent a lovely lazy afternoon in this extraordinary retreat, I settle on the terrace for a pre-dinner drink. Evening falls and frogs are croaking in the enchanting illuminated garden, where  the tables are beautifully set for dinner. How fortunate am I to have found this paradise. Dar al Hossoun is a truly magical retreat where you can recharge your batteries all year round, for the weather is nice here throughout the year. And of course, I don’t have to remind you not to spread the word about this ‘hidden’ garden….or it will become too crowded here, and we wouldn’t want that!

Do you want to find out more about Morocco? Read my blog ‘Mighty Morocco’.

Picture # 2/5/11 credits: Philippe Gromelle