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A Spaniard with a settled life launches a responsible hotel in Morocco with her family

During their Easter holidays in 2003 Daniel and his wife, Mari Carmen, began an adventure in Morocco. It was their first trip to Africa and when they headed to the desert, they took the precaution of hiring a guide called Ali. Ali practically had no formal education; since he was a boy he had been earning his living by acting as a guide for tourists from Risani “the desert frontier” where the asphalt ends and the trails begin. At that time GPS didn’t exist and guides were crucial if you didn’t want to get lost in the Sahara. Daniel and Mari Carmen were fascinated by the desert, by the Kasbahs route and by the inhabitants of the south, but above all they were fascinated by Ali who showed them not only Southern Morocco, but also its people, culture and their needs. They didn’t “travel like suitcases”; instead they saw and learnt a great deal about the country.

Year after year they repeated the trip and little by little they fell in love with Southern Morocco and introduced other friends to the desert experience. During their long conversations with Ali they learned that the route lacked quality establishments, and one day they decided to throw caution to the wind and build a Riad (small hotel) in Ouarzazate. The aim was to offer all the great things about Southern Morocco and at the same time provide a quality service and facilities to cater for Western tourists.

Mari Carmen left her job in a Banco de Madrid branch, and with a project devised by her son, who had just completed a degree in Architecture, arrived in the capital of the desert to build a Riad in partnership with Ali. Daniel continued to work as an engineer for an electrical company, helping Mari Carmen during the holidays.

Today the Riad Darchamaa is a reality. Nestled in a neighbourhood of the city with views of a huge orchard, it is built in the style of a Kasbah (typical construction in the area), and its restaurant serves the best Moroccan food. The ground floor is used as an art gallery for local artists. Ali and his family’s financial situation has improved as well as that of the employees who are all from the city. The suppliers are local and Daniel put all his efforts into installing solar panels and systems that guarantee an efficient consumption of water. Perhaps the best thing about staying at the Riad is listening to the stories of Mari Carmen’s ups and downs during the construction of the hotel and, above all, understanding, with the help of these experts, the culture of Europe’s neighbouring North African country.

Visit our selection of Responsible Hotels in Morocco

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 José es Consejero de Grupo El Fuerte y ha estado al frente de la Dirección General de la compañía desde 1999. Se trata de grupo hotelero, de capital cien por cien andaluz y con mas de 50 años de experiencia en el sector. Es el precursor de este proyecto. La pasión por la naturaleza y el senderismo que heredó de su padre, y su carácter innovador le ha puesto al frente de esta desafiante iniciativa. Leer más de este autor


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