“I do not put any limits when I dream for my guests because these are the most important moments of their lives.”
A French actor setting up his own theater company, followed by an events management agency called, unsurprisingly, Lever de Rideau (‘the Curtain Raiser’), Thierry Teyssier really does see the world as a stage. “I found my talent is for mis en scène,” says the former producer of his progression from theater to real life in 1991. “People were willing to pay me to create exceptional moments for them.”
Clients wanted this in-demand events mastermind to plan their holidays too. So in 1997 Teyssier set up Lever de Rideau Voyage to organize every last detail of his perfectly choreographed jaunts, often by private jet. Only one person was left feeling disappointed. “Even at the highest rated hotels in the world, I found staff totally focused on their brand.” After hearing ‘no’ too many times, Teyssier set out to create his own hotel, “where I could practice my philosophy of thinking about my clients first.”
Fifteen years after opening, Dar Ahlam remains irrefutably radical. It has been recognized as “the world’s most glamorous hotel hideaway” by Harper’s Bazaar, listed among the “Top 100 hotels that will change your life” in the pages of Town and Country, ranked n°25 out of the 100 best hotels in the world by Condé Nast Traveler on its annual Gold List and bestowed the title of Best Value Luxury Hotel in the World by the Sunday Times Travel Magazine.
The secret to this success? “There are no keys, no bar and no restaurant,” Teyssier points out. “But also no limits. You are free to change your mind in the moment, because my team revolves around you. To all of this we add elements of surprise.”
Teyssier’s unique ability to elicit the unbridled awe of childhood is by no means limited to Morocco. A second property, Romaneira, operated in Portugal’s Douro Valley between 2007 and 2012, and a third popped up in Paraty, Brazil for the year 2014.
Around ten years after Dar Ahlam opened, a Moroccan friend’s invitation to explore the country’s southern reaches motivated him to share this journey of sun dried valleys and palm dense oases. However there was nowhere suitable for Dar Ahlam guests to stay. Undaunted, he got out maps and methodically stitched together an itinerary, then built the three houses that each fit contextually into their diverse surroundings – a Berber village, a Saharan oasis and a hidden vale carved by time into the sun-streaked stone.
“I want to bring people to places as I have discovered them,” reflects the peripatetic Frenchman. “Equally important is that we do so with the care I would show my own loved ones.” Typically, guests do not reach out to him immediately upon returning home. They do so after their next holiday, when they better grasp the extent of Teyssier’s outlier approach. “I am not interested in travel just for pleasure or entertainment. These are addictive but fleeting,” he observes. “We are about helping our guests to find their own happiness.”
“I want to bring people to places as I have discovered them, with the care I would show my own loved ones,” reflects the peripatetic Frenchman. “I am not interested in travel just for pleasure or entertainment. These are addictive but fleeting,” he observes. “We are about helping our guests to find their own happiness.”