Berber Lodge, opened last March by expat interior designer Romain Michel-Meniere 30 minutes from Marrakech, hits that high-end, unfussy, boho trifecta, which after a few days in the overly stimulating city is exactly the vibe travelers want.
“Everyone else was building a Disney version of an Oriental dream,” Michel-Meniere says.
“I wanted to create a comfortable place for those who don’t care about being seen.”
At the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, surrounded by acres of olive and citrus trees, Berber Lodge is a pared-back (but no less glamorous) version of his earlier projects in Marrakech, like Riad de Tarabel, with its trompe l’oeil murals and patterned tile floors, as well as the achingly hip restaurant Nomad.
Nine casitas elegantly but sparingly outfitted with vintage Moroccan textiles, rattan lampshades, and locally made replicas of French antiques were constructed using traditional Berber techniques and materials (clay brides, eucalyptus beams) and arranged in Berber village tradition around a central house.
A global mix of low-key arty types, many of whom found the lodge through Instagram, gather for fireside cocktails and chicken tagine with quince and peaches from the property’s organic garden, or stow away in reading nodes made cozy with hand-loomed throws.
Michel-Meniere’s longtime friends Karl Fournier and Olivier Marty of Studio KO— the Paris firm behind the just-opened Musee Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech—conceived the original layout (“to look as if it has always been here,” says Michel-Meniere) and offered interior design tips along the way, adhering to their trademark less-is-more style.
And in true it-takes-a-village fashion, Michel-Meniere’s godmother is on hand to mind the details, placing bouquets of jasmine in rooms and informing the chef when his semolina cake could use a bit more almond.
While the lodge can arrange Berber market outings, shopping trips to Marrakech, and cooking classes, most guests, Michel-Meniere says, are happy to spend their time here doing little more than drinking mint tea by the pool, in the cool shade of a pistachio tree.
Perhaps the only good to come from California’s biblical rains and the ensuing road closures that left Big Sur inaccessible for months earlier this year was that the area’s top resorts had a little downtime.
The seven tree-house rooms at Post Ranch Inn now have reimagined interiors with artist-designed custom beds that you don’t have to leave to stargaze, thanks to the skylights above.
And the beloved Ventana Big Sur reopened last month as America’s first resort by Alila, the high-end brand known for its dreamy retreats in Bali.
Now those Silicon Valley titans who make the 100-mile dash south will enjoy abalone with smoked potato alongside a crisp Yountville sauvignon blanc in Ventana’s just-added outdoor bar, possibly after a restorative quartz-bowl sound bath in the revamped spa.
Plus, the resort’s 15 new safari-style canvas tents set among the redwoods have individual stone fire pits from which to watch the fogs and mists that drift through the forest and cascade down to the ocean.