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Dunes & Decadence: Tunisia’s Newest Gem. As the luxury travel landscape continually evolves, Tunisia is gearing up to introduce its latest offering: The Residence Douz. Set to open its doors in October 2023, this all-villa desert resort, located at the gateway to the Sahara, promises a unique blend of contemporary luxury and age-old tradition.
The Residence Douz: Architectural Elegance Meets Cultural Heritage
Nestled in Douz, a region that bridges the deserts of salt and sand, The Residence Douz stands as an oasis of comfort and seclusion. With 50 elegantly designed villas, the resort is a canvas painted with Tunisia’s rich aesthetic heritage. Every corner tells a story — from the hand-woven carpets that grace the floors to the artworks from emerging local artists that adorn the walls.
But the resort’s commitment to celebrating Tunisia’s heritage doesn’t stop at its design. The culinary offerings, spread across two distinct dining venues, are a gastronomic homage to the nation’s rich culinary past. Arabic delicacies seamlessly blend with Mediterranean nuances, offering guests a taste of Tunisia’s diverse culinary landscape.
Beyond its culinary delights, The Residence Douz offers a haven for those seeking rejuvenation. The resort boasts a Spa by Clarins, where traditional treatments meet modern wellness techniques. Guests can immerse themselves in the therapeutic warmth of a spacious hammam, evoking the age-old traditions of the region. The indoor pool provides a serene escape, and for those looking to delve deeper into the region’s spa traditions, the traditional Moorish Baths promise a holistic experience, complemented by a lounge where guests can unwind and reflect on their journey of relaxation and renewal.
Douz: Tunisia’s Desert Town with a Rich Tapestry of Experiences
While Douz may not resonate as a familiar name to many, its historical significance is deeply rooted in Tunisia’s past, where the mighty Carthage once stood as one of Rome’s paramount colonies, governing a vast trade empire across the western Mediterranean. The remnants of this illustrious era are nothing short of spectacular. Often referred to as the ‘gateway to the Sahara,’ Douz offers visitors a unique introduction to the desert’s vast expanse. But beyond its sandy dunes, Douz is a treasure trove of experiences.
From its UNESCO World Heritage Sites to the modern-day adventures that await visitors — be it exploring the landscapes on camelback, jeep, or a quadbike, spotting gazelles in Jebil Park, or the unique experience of glamping under the Saharan stars — Douz is a microcosm of Tunisia’s rich past and vibrant present.
But the pull of Douz doesn’t stop at its natural beauty or historical significance. The region is dotted with architectural marvels that echo the tales of the Berber people. One such site is the Ksar Beni Alssa, a former Berber fortress. A tour of this fortress transports visitors back in time, offering a glimpse into the life and times of the Berber people, their struggles, and their triumphs.
A short drive from Douz takes visitors to the village of Matmata, a quintessential Berber town. The unique architecture of the homes, carved into the mountainside, is a sight to behold. The town’s labyrinthine alleys and traditional homes offer a window into a way of life that has remained largely unchanged for centuries.
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Another must-visit site in the region is Tamerza. Often referred to as the ‘mountain oasis,’ Tamerza is a testament to nature’s ability to create beauty in the most unexpected places. Waterfalls, canyons, and lush greenery make Tamerza a paradise for nature lovers.
For those who wish to venture further, the mountains of Toujane beckon. These mountains are not just a geographical marvel but are also home to a rich variety of flora and fauna. The date palms, in particular, are a sight to behold. Their tall, slender trunks and lush green fronds stand in stark contrast to the golden sands, creating a mesmerizing landscape.
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But perhaps the most unique feature of the Douz region is the Chott El-Jerid. This vast salty expanse, with its shimmering reflections, is like something out of a dream. Once an internal sea, it has now mostly dried out, leaving behind a landscape of salt crystals that shimmer and sparkle under the sun. Mirages are a common sight here, adding to the surreal beauty of the place. Adventure enthusiasts can indulge in land sailing, dune skiing, and speed sailing. In winter, the Chott El-Jerid comes alive with the vibrant pink of thousands of flamingos, creating a visual spectacle like no other.
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For those with a culinary curiosity, indulging in traditional Berber meals, including the nomad’s specialities like marfoussa date paste, t’chiche soup, and desert bread uniquely cooked in hot sand beneath a layer of ashes and embers, offers a delectable journey into age-old traditions and flavours.
Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or an adventure enthusiast, Douz promises an experience that will stay with you long after you’ve left its golden sands behind. The unveiling of The Residence Douz is a significant milestone for Cenizaro Hotels & Resorts. Marking their second venture in Tunisia, it underscores the group’s commitment to offering unique experiences that go beyond just luxury — it’s about crafting memories. ◼
© This article was first published online in Oct 2023 – World Travel Magazine.