As the founder of the world’s first wandering hotel, the freedom which comes with Thierry’s nomadic concept is very much present within the terracotta walls and fragrant grounds of Dar Ahlam, a 14 suite Kasbah in the palm grove of Skoura, on the fringes of the Sahara Desert. Guests are invited to dine in the dozens of private spaces dotted in and around the hotel at any time they so desire, while meals are crafted from local ingredients sourced from the souk or grown in the hotel’s garden. Sleep under the stars amongst the sand dunes, ride over more than 1,000km of desert routes by camel or on the back of an Arabian stallion, or sit beside the shores of Ouarzazate Lake beneath a private tent with a personally prepared picnic spread. No request is too big or too small, in a place where every whim will be catered for, “where you can choose to do anything and nothing.”
To be independently minded means to think out of the box. To me, it means to be guest-centric instead of thinking about my hotel organisation. It might sound simple, but too many hoteliers don’t care about their guests and prefer to put so many rules in place, even if this becomes the opposite of ‘hospitality’.
I decided to create my own hotel because I was tired of all these rules: check-in after 2pm, 3pm or 4pm, check-out before noon or 11am…I wanted to create a place without any limits where you can choose to do anything or nothing, where there is no restaurant but a special set up just for you, and where you can live unique moments dedicated to you in absolute exclusivity – where you are, there are no other guests. Today, it seems obvious, but when I created Dar Ahlam 20 years ago, imagine the reactions! My sources of inspiration are just normal life and wishes. When you fall in love, you don’t need a marketing department to tell you what to do…
No rules, no limits, no check-in or check-out, every single breakfast, lunch or dinner in a different location with different scenery, a car, driver and guide dedicated to you, no programme in advance – just come and leave the rest to us. After a stay with us, you will understand what freedom means!
There is definitely nothing you must do at Dar Ahlam, this goes against our philosophy. Just come and we’ll see what you want to do together. We will prepare a special programme just for you. It will depend on how you’re feeling, if you are tired or not, if it is your first trip to Morocco or your twentieth, if you have been travelling for three weeks or if you have just arrived, if it is windy or not…I hate to organise anything in advance. My hotel is one part of the story. Each guest is the most important part.
For over 20 years, I have been creating my own perfect experience. A mix of simplicity, authenticity and people. Today, journalists call it “new luxury” but it’s just my way of thinking and living. Going with a fisherman on his small boat to pick sea urchins, to open them on board with a glass of wine…you don’t need anything else at sunset!
I want to give back tourism to locals. I launched a new project two years ago, 700’000 Heures, which is the first wandering hotel in the world. I promote micro-hospitality operated with local communities to help them to become independent. We want to share local cultures and traditions in a new simple way. Circular economy is also part of the equation. I don’t believe in big hotels anymore, and I want to prove small houses are more profitable for everyone than large establishments.