Need to know
Twenty-eight including eight suites (one with a private pool), one three-bedroom master suite and 10 tented suites.
Noon. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from $515.38 (MAD4,900), excluding tax at 20 per cent.
Rates include breakfast. Full-board is available for an extra MAD900 each a day (MAD450 for children). Half-board is MAD500 (MAD250 for children).
The retreat's core values involve supporting the local communities; initiatives include free English lessons, the hiring of local staff, a focus on sustainable development and energy-saving efforts. When Branson left his mother Eve in charge of the hotel, his one stipulation was that she take care of the community – a responsibility she takes very seriously. The Eve Branson Foundation supports several local craft workshops, who sell their wares in the on-site gift shop; 30 per cent of the profits goes back to the community, too. The hotel holds frequent open-air cinema nights too, where guests sit under the stars under tents pitched on a hillside – there's not much of a selection though: Casablanca is the only film screened.
At the hotel
Spa, gym, farm, landscaped gardens, heated mountain-view infinity pool, heated indoor pool, sauna, hammam, floodlit tennis courts, book-filled salon with internet access, log fire, TV/DVD, gift shop, many excursions, including trekking and horse riding.
Our favourite rooms
The Aman room (deluxe suite with pool) is a wonderful place to have breakfast outside. The Tazart Room has a carved wood ceiling and stunning green bathroom. The Jacaranda room also has a ceiling worth ogling and beautiful terrace. The Master Suite is the ‘mini Kasbah’, occupying two floors. All rooms have a smattering of antiques Branson inherited from the former owner Luciano Tempo, a well-renowned antiques dealer.
After you're guided through the Kasbah's meandering entranceway, the pool reveals itself in spectacular fashion. A brilliant blue rectangle sunk into a small valley, it's set so swimmers can gaze up at the Atlas beyond. Sunloungers line the sides and staff are on the ball with drinks and snacks, if desired. If there's a slight nip in the air, enjoy lazy laps in the heated indoor pool.
The four-room Asonfou Spa offers treatments from wraps and facials to massages and hammam treatments. There are also Watsu pools, mud rooms and hot springs to soothe aching muscles. We like the damask rose-infused facial and the headily scented Le Sens de Marrakech products.
Layers in autumn and winter; walking boots.
No pets allowed.
Children are welcome 1-8 January, 10-25 February, 17 March-29 April, 26 May-3 June, 1 July-2 September, 13 October-5 November, and 18 December-7 January. Under six's stay free if sharing with an adult; extra beds for 6-18 year olds cost MAD1,150 a night.
During school holidays, this sophisticated retreat invites children to join in games and cultural activities. Children under 11 stay for free too.
Juniors and tweens.
Packed activity programmes are held at various dates throughout the year – mostly during school holidays. From 16–23 February, 5–27 April, 5 July to 31 August, 18 October to 2 November, and 13 December to 10 January kids can ride mules as long as they're accompanied by their parents, or pet the hotel's resident mules (Peppermint, Peanut and Paprika), camels (Pickle and Pumpkin) and donkeys (Pudding, Plum and Peaches); cook traditional Moroccan dishes; go on treasure hunts; get mini manicures; go for a four-wheel drive ride in the mountains; take part in table-tennis tournaments; experience a Moroccan tea party and learn about the local flora and fauna on a nature walk. There are also DVDs to watch and board games in the lounge.
The hotel has a young diners menu, which has a few familiar favourites and some more exotic Moroccan fare (from MAD50–70 a dish). Children get free soft drinks and ice-cream throughout their stay too.
Is available for MAD120 an hour; must be booked in advance.