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Reviews of Holidays and Hotels in Morocco - The Best Of All Worlds

The Times, 19 April 2004

[Article edited to only consider Morocco]

The best of all worlds: villa living goes global

By David Wickers and Rob Ryan

Long-haul destinations are embracing European villa culture, but with added luxury and staff

The great villa or hotel dilemma has acquired a new and very welcome dimension. Previously, the key kitchen-table arguments in favour of renting a place for your next break were the relative value of villas, the independence (no need to wake up before the breakfast sitting ends) and the privacy; but the persuasive points in favour of choosing a hotel have always included the fact that someone else does the cooking, the dishes and pretty much all the thinking for you, while the last day of the holiday can be spent melting by the pool rather than scrubbing every surface in somebody else's house.

Now, though, something has changed - because villas have gone long-haul. From Mexico to Mauritius, Baja to Bali, the destinations previously dominated by luxurious, generously staffed hotels now have an ever-growing supply of private properties, where you can enjoy your own pool, your own patio, your own timetable and, most importantly, most distinctly un-European of all, your own domestic staff. It's a perk worth treasuring - if you harbour fantasies of telling your butler to lay out the linen suit or asking your personal chef for a midnight snack, a week in these well-tended villas might be your best chance.

This new generation of villa destinations perfectly mixes the best of hotel life with the perks of holiday rentals, and while they don't come cheap, if you?re in a big enough party to fill all the beds, the price per person can tumble steeply ? suitably enough, to somewhere between a rented property in Europe and a luxury resort in the tropics.

MOROCCO

There has long been a stock of private (usually French-owned) villas here, but the Moroccan market has been energised by the burgeoning availability of traditional riads, which have been turned into B&Bs, small hotels or, more recently, holiday houses that can be rented for exclusive use. Some are in the medina, others out of town.

Our choice: owned by an English couple, Dar Zamora is located among spectacular ancient palm groves outside Marrakesh, handily placed both for the mania of the city (about five miles away) and the Atlas Mountains.

Dar Zamora?s pool is heated in winter and shaded all year round by bamboo and bougainvillea. The interiors are finished using traditional techniques such as tadelakt (glazing with crushed egg shells), and several rooms have intricate hand-painted ceilings. There are five bedrooms, all of which have air con and marble bathrooms.

Your staff: all meals can be prepared on request.