Sustainable Use of Resources
The electrical grid arrived here in 2012 and the The Serai is on it, which means we can still be solar powered, but without batteries. Now that the building is functioning, Mark is working towards our being a net producer of electricity to the grid.
Water is proving to be the trickiest problem to solve.
As a principal generator of funds for The Fertile Roots Foundation, the Serai is pivotal to our project to assist local farmers switch over to sustainable agriculture. With less and less rainfall each year this this is vital and difficult work, and we don’t have much time left..
The original vision behind the Serai was “an inspiring and visually compelling space for teachers of art, well-being and sustainable living to bring their students to”. We’ve gone completely out of our way to create an unrivalled choice of beautiful and original spaces for workshops, discussions, lectures, dance, etc.. It is ideal for intimate groups of up to 15 people.
The ‘Temple’ is a beautiful space of 6m x 11m. Light and views flood in through large, shaded windows to the East and West and a glorious wooden floor of recycled beech wood gives off a timeless warmth. Curtains ensure privacy if required while the vaulted and muralled ceiling offers extraordinary acoustics.
The House & Around
The Serai was designed for groups, having indoor and outdoor stages, the vaulted saloon, an enormous flat roof, the sunset deck and front terraces. There can also be prepared spaces in the garden and previous groups have made much use of the beach, which at low tide is huge.
Celebrating natural lime plasters and time-worn, recycled wood, bedrooms are unpretentious and uncluttered. Large glass doors and cleverly angled windows fill every corner with light and reward every glance with a view. Hammam style bathrooms of exposed, handmade brick and rich tadelakt plasters lend a deep warmth to the space.
The North Wing
The Family Room
Accessed via the central courtyard, this room features a king-size double, or twin beds, and makes use of a higher ceiling to offer a mezzanine space for 2-3 children (or 1-2 adults), accessed by a spiral staircase. There’s an en-suite bathroom, and French window opening onto a south-facing patio.
The Tower Library
This small reading room and library has the best views of any in the house and converts between a single, double or twin bedroom. There’s no en-suite bathroom but a compost toilet is there if needed and there are bathroom facilities downstairs. You can lie in bed and watch the setting moon paint a silvery street across the ocean, or on darker nights see the myriad lights of the Essaouira sardine boats twinkling like a line of stars on the horizon.
En-suite double / twin rooms
These 3 rooms are similar in size (26sqm)and layout, each offering a king-size double (or twin beds), en-suite turret bathroom, and a French window opening onto a south-facing patio. The SouthWest bedroom, however, also features a huge, west-facing French window opening onto another patio with outstanding views down the coast and over the ocean.
The kitchen, dining room, hall, and saloon with its stage and tremendous vaulted ceiling, are all open plan but can be separated as required with sliding doors and curtains.
The courtyard is the beating heart of the Serai. Arranged on three levels beneath a natural roof of vines and honeysuckle, it features a natural plunge pool cleaned by a border of wetland plants. At the western end there’s a bar area and steps up to a roof terrace with more shaded and comfortable seating and breathtaking views.
You may self-cater in our fully equipped kitchen, but local chefs with different specialities are also available. Whether you wish traditional Moroccan cuisine or something more specialised, lighter and vegetarian, vegan even: everything is possible. The best bet is to contact us to discuss your needs. Alcohol is available from Essaouira and the town is also packed with restaurants for every budget and taste.
Nadine Rossner is an Essaouira-based chef specialising in vegetarian menus with a ‘wild garden’ theme. Her delicious dishes and smoothies are a celebration of colour and texture. A yoga teacher herself, Nadine’s cooking is especially appreciated by ‘wellness’ guests seeking a thorough but pain-free detox. Contact us to connect with Nadine and discuss your menus.
Breakfast on the kitchen patio, lunch beneath the cool shade of the courtyard and dinner around the enormous banqueting table; a choice of lovely spaces and views to compliment the delicious intimacy of eating together.
We’re still working on this, and probably always will be. It’s not enough to have used as much as possible natural and recycled building materials, or that we turn our waste and grey water into compost for soil regeneration, or that the house is designed around rainwater catchment and storage; there will always be new ways to reduce our ecological footprint and to pro-actively benefit the local environment and community.
This part of Morocco is semi arid, bordering on arid. Average annual rainfall is a bare 15cms and Azrou Issa does not enjoy easy-to-reach groundwater. We do have a well but it produces very little each day, so the building is designed to harvest and store every possible liter of rainwater and then recycle as much of that as possible. We could buy in water, but that’s not a sustainable solution to the problem, so instead we use our reserves very carefully indeed, especially through the long summer drought. We ask that guests respect and remember this whenever they go to turn on a tap or take a shower. And whilst there are flush loos in all the bathrooms we also ask guests to consider using instead our beautiful vermi-compost toilets. To live sustainably in an environment such as this it is vital to ‘close the loop’ and feed back into the soil as much as we can.