Thierry Teyssier

Man of the Hours

“What is a hotel?”

Thierry Teyssier posed this question aloud some years ago as the sun disappeared behind a vermillion-streaked canyon outside the southern Moroccan village of Aojou. I had come to this remote enclave on the road to Timbuktu to interview the peripatetic Frenchman about his considerable hospitality accomplishments, among them Dar Ahlam, the 200-year-old casbah turned 14-room hideaway in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains run by Berber villagers that has become the toast of travel world for its ability to connect luxury with simplicity.

Choose to spend your most precious hours with us, and I will lead you to shared moments of indescribable happiness.”

“Hotels no longer need four walls, a rooftop bar, and suites with 2,000-square-foot bathrooms,” Teyssier insisted, arms waving into the crisp North African evening. In a charming mélange of French and English, the former theater actor spoke of finding unscripted backdrops for his storytelling, and his plans to transport guests across time and space. I secretly wondered what the hell he was talking about.

Instead of building walls, Teyssier proposed to takeover unique yet simple structures and to reinvent them with objects contained in steamers trunks handmade by Morocco’s L’Atelier de Manue, one of the last remaining master trunk artisans. Every six months or so, he would pack them up and decamp to a new destination chosen by a singular criterion: “Wherever makes me start to dance in the sand.”

In 2018, those musings in the desert became reality. Teyssier’s vision of making the impossible accessible—both physically and metaphorically—have come to fruition with 700’000 heures. “Choose to spend your most precious hours with us,” he proposes. “And I will lead you to shared moments of indescribable happiness.”

Surface magazine – May 2019