Slow luxury on the Atlantic coast

“Between the forest and a deserted beach lies the Serai,                                                                                      where nothing disturbs the silence                                                                                                                      and nothing troubles the eye.”

Situated on a dramatic and tourist-free stretch of coast, 15kms north of Essaouira, the Serai is a traditionally built sanctuary from the modern world. Set amidst a tiny and very traditional fishing & farming community, this alcazaba of rock, earth and lime offers discerning travellers an immersive experience of slow living and slow food wrapped in a silence so profound that nothing interrupts your power to simply be.

Retreat Leaders’ and Event Organisers’, please contactanos for our comprehensive Information Pack.

Join us 01 – 04 June for a Tantra retreat with Meriem Bennani Smires. See aquí for details of this and other forthcoming events.

10% of revenue from the Serai (catering excluded) goes to The Fertile Roots Foundation and thus to the local community.

Desenchufar para Recargar

The difference in feeling between being in a healthy building and the modern cement box is as dramatic as it is difficult to describe; you have to experience it. Take away any WiFi signal also and you have a recipe for deep and pure, childlike sleep. Of course there is internet available but we like it best when it’s switched off. In fact, to fully wallow in the luxury of silent, clean air beneath our glittering night sky, we suggest you leave your phone in a box by the front door.

Retirarse para Fortalecerse

From the very start, the Serai was designed as an inspiring space for people to come together and grow together. We imagined it full of dynamic groups learning interesting things; a big old house vibrating with music, dance and laughter. So we built stages, designed for acoustics and created a space to inspire.

Una Casa que Respira

The Serai is unique in many ways.  It is the result of a 17-year DIY project by husband and wife team, Mark & Ayelen (Scottish & Argentinian). Working in Ibiza each summer and then, each winter in Morocco, investing all their savings in building materials and help from the villagers, stone by stone they turned an idea into reality. They set themselves only three rules: no cement in the walls, never borrow any money, and never hire anyone from outside the immediate community.

“We had almost no money for such a huge project but what we DID have was energy and time.  And it was clear to us that it might take ten years or more, but that didn’t scare us; we would simply have to keep pushing forward, following the flow.” (Ayelen Aguilar, 2021)

"Este edificio es tan inusual que te deja sin aliento. Los detalles, se mire por donde se mire, y la cantidad de trabajo que ha debido de costar resulta increíble. Es tan difícil creer que no había nada aquí hace diez años; parece como si hubiera estado aquí durante siglos." David Le Sueur, 2018

En Armonía con el Paisaje

Situada al pie de una ladera boscosa y a 10 minutos a pie de la playa, la casa disfruta de algunas de las mejores vistas de la región. Desde cada ventana, hay bosques u océanos, o Essaouira, solo visible más allá de un mosaico de campos y muros de piedra color miel, y una larga y deslumbrante playa desierta.

Texture y Forma

Despite difficult conditions and a lack of water, we managed to use only lime in the walls of the Serai, no cement at all. This makes the building very unusual in this part of the world and you can feel the difference the moment you step inside. The walls breathe, absorbing and transferring humidity and the sun’s heat.

Costa Dramáticas

Fuera Del Camino Trillado Pero No Remoto

The ancient walled citadel of Essaouira is only 25 minutes away yet only since 2017 has it been possible for normal cars to reach the Serai. Should you choose to approach by the forest route there’s a strong sense of leaving the modern world behind you as the hillside drops toward the ocean. Many still do choose to arrive on foot, Hafed’s donkeys carrying their bags down through the forest; it’s part of the magic. Then there’s the feeling of space, the endless empty beach, the silence so striking that it’s almost a noise to get used to, and the bright, beautiful starry sky.

Aislada pero Includa

El Serai se siente alejado del mundo también porque el modo de vida en Azrou Issa está totalmente alejado de nuestras modernas vidas de alta tecnología. La casa no está separada de la comunidad tras altos muros, sino dentro de ella. Hay una simbiosis que crece y se fortalece cada año.

Medio Ambiente Interactivo

No es una costa apacible para tumbarse, sino una que pide ser explorada y descubierta de nuevo cada día. Con marea baja, toda la comunidad puede estar en la playa: pescando, recogiendo algas y mejillones o jugando al fútbol. Con marea alta, está vacía, sólo para ti.

Slow Food

Intentar cultivar algo aquí, casi sin agua y suelos agotados, nos llevó por el camino de la permacultura y la agricultura sostenible. Desde un campo azotado por el viento de piedra y polvo, el jardín todavía está volviendo a la productividad, con énfasis en encontrar soluciones eficientes en agua que sean asequibles para que los agricultores locales puedan replicarlas. La comida lenta se trata de comer lo que se produce localmente y estacionalmente, para reducir la huella de carbono de una comida y proteger los medios de vida.

Pesca y Agricultura

La vida rural en un lugar como este no ha cambiado mucho en mucho tiempo. Nuestros vecinos todavía aran los campos con animales y venden sus productos en un mercado semanal; la mayoría también pesca con marea baja. El ganado deambula libremente por el bosque con jabalíes, mientras que cerca de la playa te encontrarás con niños pequeños y ancianos que pastorean camellos y cabras.

Apoyando a la comunidad en todos los niveles

Quienquiera que esté cocinando, obtenemos la mayor cantidad de alimentos posible de los agricultores de los alrededores. Las verduras, el cordero y la carne de res alimentados en el bosque, el pollo de corral, la leche, los huevos y las capturas del día se entregan en la puerta. La fruta proviene del mercado local de agricultores.

Impacto Positivo

10% of revenue generated by the Serai (catering excluded) goes to the Fertile Roots Foundation. We established the foundation to help our local community make the transition from destructive farming practices over to sustainable, profitable agriculture, through a program of informing, researching, experimenting and, where necessary, awarding small grants. It’s a tremendously exciting project that links the people of Azrou Issa to a growing worldwide network of pioneering farmers and scientists. Our aim is nothing less than to change the future for this community, and have that change spread to others. It will be a long and hard road, but immensely interesting and satisfying.

Regenerative Agriculture

 Formamos parte del creciente e influyente movimiento Regrarians. Impartimos cursos de uso y diseño sostenibles del suelo y traemos a Azrou Issa a algunas de las mentes más brillantes del mundo para que nos ayuden a nosotros y a la comunidad a construir un futuro más brillante y resiliente.


Investigar, Experimentar, Construir

No éramos constructores cuando empezamos en esto, y nos gusta decir que lo hicimos todo con Google y YouTube. Es bastante cierto, pero no siempre encontrábamos las respuestas que buscábamos y a menudo teníamos que limitarnos a experimentar, una y otra vez.  Entonces hicimos nuestros propios vídeos en Youtube. Y seguimos en ello; siempre pasa algo en el taller. youtube videos. And we’re still at it; there is always something going on in the workshop.

Elección de Estilo de Vida

“In effect, realising that the true value in this project lay in the journey, not in the end result, we turned the construction of the Serai into a lifestyle choice. And what a revelation that was; because it made it all so much fun. Friends and strangers alike flocked to help us, to toil alongside fishermen from the village. And we all had to learn everything: how to use lime, how to build vaults and domes, furniture from recycled wood, how to weld all the doors and windows from steel, plumbing and electrics and so, so much more. Ayelen and I would lie in bed at night reading books on natural construction techniques, or watching ‘how-to’ videos on Youtube, but mostly it was trial and error. So many mistakes were made, but we’d always find imaginative ways to fix and disguise them, and these are the details that people love the most.” (Mark Anstice, 2021)

Story Telling

“In taking our time over this project, we inadvertently produced an illusion of time: the passage of centuries. Visitors and guests find it hard to believe that in 2005 there was nothing here, nothing but a field of rocks and dust, for the Serai looks, and feels, as if it has been here for hundreds of years.” (Mark Anstice, 2021)


Amor por la naturaleza

Turning a barren ridge into a haven for birds, insects and other wildlife has been one of our greatest joys. And nor are they barred from inside the lodge. Within the walls we’ve built houses for geckos and birds, and the courtyard is visited by chameleons and mongeese. Buntings fly freely through the house and clean the crumbs from the table.

Conviértete en una de nuestras 'raíces fértiles'

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