Nestled at the foot of the Dorsale mountains, Dar Zaghouan is a charming guesthouse and the first eco-friendly holiday accommodation in Tunisia. Located a one-hour drive from Tunis, Dar Zaghouan offers an alterative tourism experience in an area that has not seen the development of tourism that has benefited many other parts of Tunisia.
Walking around the landscaped gardens you can understand why Skander, an ex-banker and nature lover, would retreat to his country house to forget about the stress of his day job. In 2008, after recognizing the popularity and potential of the property, Skander set out to turn his home into a business.
Today, Dar Zaghouan is renowned as a haven of peace and a popular tourist destination, especially among city dwellers from Tunis looking for tranquillity. Over ten years, Skander’s estate has grown to include newly refurbished accommodation for fifty guests, a restaurant serving dishes indigenous to the region, a large meeting room for hosting events, a traditional hammam and two swimming pools for the pleasure of summer visitors.
In 2012, Skander decided to take on a new challenge and convert Dar Zaghouan into an eco-friendly guesthouse, making significant environmental improvements to its design to minimize its impact on the environment.
In order to ‘go green’ and make the business more environmentally sustainable, Skander received the support of the Mashrou3i project, organized by UNIDO and funded by USAID, the Italian Cooperation and the HP Foundation. With the guidance of Mashrou3i experts, Skandar installed a solar energy system to run the facilities and received expertise to power the guesthouse’s air conditioning by renewable energy. Skander also took part in an environmental training provided by UNIDO to improve his skills in waste management. As a result, Dar Zaghouan met the high environmental requirements needed to gain Green Key certification, an eco-label awarded to around 2700 hotels and other establishments around the world.
“Preserving the environment is an important part of Dar Zaghouan’s mandate, and all of our activities touch on the preservation and conservation of the surrounding area,” says Skander. “With the Green Key certification, we hope to attract even more international guests.”
"Alongside traditional, eco-friendly agricultural techniques we are also engaged in social entrepreneurship,” explains Skander. “By providing premises within the area, we allow nearly fifteen artisans from the region to produce and sell local products, like cheese and handicrafts, promoting Zaghouan’s heritage.”
Dar Zaghouan also creates economic value for its employees and the community. The bed and breakfast has created between 15 and 20 direct jobs and more than 60 indirect jobs. In an area where most people work as seasonal employees in the agriculture sector, Dar Zagouan has provided valuable full-time work, contributing to the access of regular wages for men and women in the area.