‘Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans’ John Lennon
Owning and running a guesthouse was never on my ‘to-do’ list. When I sold my Recruitment company in the Netherlands we anticipated retirement in France and the ‘togetherness of twosomeness’. Instead we bought a ruin in Tarifa and rebuilt it as our home but before we could move in my husband died.
‘To stay or not to stay?’ – that was the question. I came back from Marrakech where I had been staying in a delightful ‘dar’ (a series of suites grouped around a central patio) to find the ruin next door was up for sale. ‘ Maktoub’ (in Arabic)– ‘it is written’. Once an entrepreneur always an entrepreneur, so here was the golden opportunity offered to me on a plate – I could build and run a ‘dar’ in Tarifa.
We are now 15 years further and Dar Cilla has been fully operative for ten years. Together with Martina (I knew her as a baby – the daughter of our former neighbours in The Netherlands) we have created what many of our guests call ‘a home from home’ for travellers who appreciate style and comfort.
I lived and worked for many years in Africa, including Egypt, the Sudan, the Congo .... My first visit to Morocco was in a camper van driving from The Netherlands to Cairo (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia,Libya, Egypt) with a 14 month old baby. I fell in love with Morocco and resolved to return. Now, every morning I wake up in Spain to look across the shimmering sea to the shoreline of Morocco, only 35 minutes away by ferry. I have the best of both worlds! No wonder I am enthusiastic to become part of Special Lodgings, linking guesthouses/dars ‘with a difference’ in Southern Andalusia and Northern Morocco. It is a privilege and a joy to link up with like-minded aficionados who love what they do, love where they have chosen to do it, and genuinely want their guests to love it as much as they do.

Zoë Ouwehand-Reid, Tarifa, Cadiz.

English by birth, Dutch by marriage, international at heart!