Written by Lindsay Krause
An alluring mix of Arabian, Native Berber and Mediterranean culture, Morocco nostalgically takes you back to an enchanting time of nomadic travelers and boisterous traders. The gateway to Africa, the North African country of Morocco borders the Atlantic ocean and Mediterranean sea. Sipping on a cup of mint tea from a sidewalk cafe in Marrakech might inspire thoughts of overnight camel trekking through the sand dunes of the Sahara desert and ‘roughing it’ in canvas tents. But this preconceived notion of old meets, well old, has reached a crossroads. Flourishing behind the ancient city medina of Fez and spiced filled souks of Marrakech you will find the contemporary luxe lodging scene mixed with a traditional Moroccan Riads of centuries past.
Our latest fascination is the enchanting villa of Dar El Sadaka, the wonderland of artist Jean-Francois Fourtou. The fully staffed, privately-owned villa is now available for exclusive hire and after our recent visit to the property we just had to share this innovative space with you. Here is a concise breakdown of what you can expect from a visit to the villa and why you should add this experience to your African adventure to Morocco.
A 15 minute drive from the ‘Red City’, within the Palmeraie of Marrakech, you will find the exotic haven of artist Jean-Francois Fourtou. As an outsider one might never imagine the enchanting world that awaits within the perimeters of the 25 acre estate but as soon as you enter the grounds you are slowly introduced to the quirks of the property. From sculptures of mischievous orangutans swinging from the ceiling to giraffes munching on flower arrangements from the dining room table. In the garden, indulge your childlike impulses and explore Fourtou’s sculpture garden from the Fallen From The Sky to the Giant’s House. Originally the artist’s home, the fully staffed villa is now up for private hire, inviting guests to explore the lush gardens of the estate, wander through the olive grove maze, relax by the pool in the mimosa courtyard and get lost in the playful world of Dar El Sadaka.
An impressive mix of chic French-European interiors and exotic arabic touches, the 9 suites on the estate are individually themed and invite guests to travel with the artist into different worlds. Accommodating up to 20 guests, interior designer Philippe Forrestier designed each room to highlight an animal that featured in Jean-Francois Fourtou’s sculpture collection. A balance between harmony and surprise, allow yourself to be enchanted by the playful donkey, giraffe, camel, snail and ant suites surrounding Dar El Sadaka’s mimosa courtyard.
Dreamt up by installation artist Jean-Francois Fourtou, Dar El Sadaka invites guests to travel into the artist’s homage of childhood memories and imagination. His unique animal sculptures of giraffes, snails and orangutans became well known in the 1990s and aim to disconnect the adult eye and see the world through the eyes of a child. After traveling and working around the world Fourtou moved to Dar El Sadaka and transformed the property into his home and creative atelier. The artist places emphasis on the beauty and intricacy of the animals by placing them slightly out of context and playing with the idea of size and proportions. A perfect example of this approach can be seen in the Giant’s House. Located in the gardens, this sculpture plays with scale to evoke childhood sensations, reverting each guest to the size that they were as an infant. The Fallen From The Sky, is also a good example of the artist’s imagination which appears to be an upside down house which has fallen from the sky.
Our CEO, Lee Kelsall, recently visited Dar El Sadaka and was amazed by the surrealist journey Fourtou takes his guests on, starting with the Fallen From The Sky, leading through the sculpture gardens, and lastly to the villa. “After the heated days of Marakech, Dar El Sadaka was an oasis of play and imagination… It is a pioneering property that mixes art and the unique experience of travel,” says Lee.
Morocco’s flourishing luxe accommodation scene and their contemporary take on travel, mixed with its exotic cultural history can inspire even the most discerning traveler to visit its shores. Want to explore the world of Jean-Francois Fourtou for yourself? Get in touch with one of our expert Ker & Downey® Africa Adventurists who can help you add a stay at Dar El Sadaka to your next Moroccan adventure.