Image: Kasbah Tamadot

Financial Times: “The real opportunity at the moment is in the Atlas Mountains. It’s outstandingly beautiful, close to Marrakech and very well protected from over development.” Gordon Miller visits one of the stand out developments that is fast becoming Morocco’s most exclusive new address…

Only a 3-hour flight from the UK, Marrakech continues to attract those in search of the winter sun and the exotic. Tourism in Morocco has continued to rise and the country has remained strong and stable throughout the global economic crisis, proving time and again why so many people are discovering the beauty and vibrancy of the country and then returning for more.

Less than an hour from Marrakech, is a place where the discerning travelers in search of space and beauty go, where Sir Richard Branson has established his stunning Moroccan retreat (the Kasbah Tamadot), and where the King of Morocco regularly visits and stays. In a world that is increasingly trading land for development, space is a rare luxury and Ouirgane has it in abundance. What makes this area truly special is that it is protected by national park, so if you can find land to build on, it’s gold. Rare, timeless, untouchable, beautiful, with all year round sunshine… it doesn’t get better than that.

Ouirgane is the perfect base to explore at a leisurely pace, either by foot on the many trekking trails, or on horseback through the deep red gorges of the valley, the country lanes, the villages and abundant olive groves. For intrepid souls with more strenuous activities in mind, this is the starting point for the trek to the summit of the highest peak in North Africa; Mount Toubkal, and not far away is the winter ski resort of Oukaïmeden, where there is a planned Emirates investment of $1.4 billion to transform the resort into an exclusive four season mountain destination. For me, lying by the pool with a book and a gin and tonic, surrounded by the majestic mountains will do just fine!

The region boasts many beautiful hotels, maison d’hôtes, spas and restaurants. But now there is a rare and precious opportunity to own a luxury property in these breathtaking surroundings…

L’Amandier is a select boutique development of 13 contemporary two and three bedroom villas and small hotel spa with infinity pool set on a plateau with magnificent views up and down the valley and across to the High Atlas’s soaring snow-peaked mountain ranges. This small exclusive resort, which will be managed by a five star operator, is perfectly located, with Kasbah Tamadot just a 15-minute scenic drive away in the next valley, La Roseraie hotel and spa 5 minutes away and the turquoise Ouirgane Lake in view from the estate.

The developers MHK International are working with award winning London-based architect Nick Gowing to create these Zen-like villas that stand within a class of their own. The Financial Times has described the villas as “outstandingly beautiful”. The Wall Street Journal simply selected L’Amandier as its “House of the Week” – twice!

Managing Director, Anwar Harland-Khan, describes the striking villas as contemporary homes with clean, straight lines but with an authentic Moroccan vernacular. The terracotta earth coloured villas rise from the ground dramatically in their bold linearity against the mountain’s softer contours. The salon style living room, open to one side via floor-to-ceiling concertina style glass doors, is on one side of the house, facing outward to capture the spectacular views. The bedrooms are spacious and all with en suite bathrooms.

Light and space are recurrent motifs in the design. A contemporary rectangular take on the riad style where an open roof illuminates the vast central hallway in a shaft of light. Daylight floods into the bathrooms through discreet skylights. The Moroccan vernacular is witnessed in the detail of the carved wooden doors, seamless floor to ceiling tadelakt and geometric recessed wall niches.

Arguably, the villas’ piece de resistance is the vast roof terrace that almost doubles the usable floor space. An integrated cast iron frame pergola style seating area – finished in tadelakt – with deep cushions and cloaked in white cotton drapes provides a stylish ‘chill out’ area to relax and take in the views. Grand Designs Kevin McCloud would say of L’Amandier that it has integrity.

To date eight villas have been sold: amongst them to a UK lawyer, an interior designer, a London surgeon, one of Britain’s leading landscape architects, an Australian investor and a French couple. Just three villas remain for sale, each in prime positions on the estate. The developers intend to retain two properties that they will manage and let. As one of Morocco’s most desirable destinations, it is anticipated that the villas at L’Amandier will achieve a premium rental return.

Prices for the six villas released for sale this year start from £295,000 for the two-bedroom 151m2 villas; 201m2 three beds are priced from £329,000. The current values are expected to increase by 20 per cent upon completion, which is on schedule for Q1, 2013.

In the last three months, four villas have been sold, which is really no surprise given that, in the words of the wealthy man’s (and woman’s) style bible, the luxury Financial Times magazine How to Spend it, “To sit on one of L’Amandier’s vast roof terraces … is beyond words”.

To arrange an exclusive visit to L’Amandier
contact MHK International on 020 7754 5563 or visit