In the early ’90s, Fabrizio Ruspoli di Poggio Suasa, a French Italian aristocrat from Paris and a former dealer in 18th-century French furniture, moved to Marrakesh. Ruspoli, who grew up visiting his grandmother in Morocco, quickly felt at home among the city’s well-known expats — among them at the time the interior designer Bill Willis, the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé — and soon purchased the popular French restaurant La Maison Arabe, transforming it into the medina’s first riad hotel. But in the three decades since his arrival, says Ruspoli, Marrakesh has, for better and worse, grown “along with the noise of scooters.” So three years ago, he decided to sell the hotel to seek a quieter life about an hour’s drive outside of town in the Atlas Mountains. But not too quiet: This fall, Ruspoli and his longtime partner, José Abete, opened a new property, Olinto, in the lush Ouirgane Valley. Set on 10 acres planted with olive groves and fragrant gardens, the hotel has dramatic views of the red earth mountains, with nine vine-covered guesthouses with rooftop sitting areas, private gardens and, in some cases, pools. A spa will open sometime next year, but for now, guests can lounge on the many wisteria-lined terraces and enjoy massages in the traditional hammam. Ruspoli, who says he was “born playing a piano,” named his new project in honor of his like-minded ancestor Marquis Francesco Maria Ruspoli, a patron of Handel, who adopted the moniker Olinto, after a village in ancient Greece, as part of his membership in a musical and literary society called the Academy of Arcadia. “My hope is to host something similar here: a retreat and, eventually, a small music festival surrounded by my gardens,” he says. Rates start at $700 per night, olinto.net.
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