My friend and I searched and searched for photos of the "La Belle Etoile" deluxe berber tents advertised by our tour company as well as Kensington Tours. We couldn't find details before we left and it looks like reviews for this "Xaluca Bivouac La Belle Etoile" are mixed with some regular hotel photos. So, to be clear, I am reviewing the deluxe TENT experience on the edge of the Sahara!
All in all, this was a unique experience--a bucket list sort of thing, but not a "deluxe" resort type of experience. Very worthwhile to have the experience of riding the camel and being in the dunes. It wasn't quite as remote as I expected since there is a hotel base not far from the tent camp. But we did have to drive in a 4x4 to get to that base and then rode the camels back to the tent area.
We had a little camp of tents, but only a couple and a small family of three in the tents besides us, which was nice for privacy. I can only imagine how it would be if all the tents were full! We did have a working, actual toilet in our tent (better than many of the squatty potties on our visit). We also had running water with a bit of a messed up sink (the mirror was falling down as was the faucet into the basin). We also had a hand "shower" which was tepid temperature at best in the morning. I think the generator runs for about 3 hours from 6-9 at night, so by the morning, there wasn't really warm water. The sink, the toilet, and the shower were in three distinct areas and the "door" to the shower and toilet were rugs, so we had to lift the flap up to enter and there was no light.
The beds were much more comfortable than I expected and we had a lot of heavy blankets, so did not get cold even though the night was very windy and we could hear the rugs and other things flapping in the night. Our guide was very friendly and helpful, but I think it was an oversight that we did not get a lantern after dinner. Big mistake, so be sure to ask for one. We had to use the light of our mobile phone to get by in a place that is unusually dark at night (no light pollution) and in the early morning when we woke to watch the sunrise.
The dinner served at night was decent for being that remote...typical tagine fare. Breakfast was okay, but a guide who was visiting with a family advised us not to drink the orange juice or eat the fried bread.
On the way back from the sunrise walk, the guides stopped us to sell fossils and ugly jewelry. They were very pushy and it was offensive. We were heckled everywhere in Morocco, but certainly did not expect that in the DESERT on a sunrise walk. Crazy. Of course we had planned to tip them for their services, but they started demanding a certain price for the tip.They really need to STOP that practice. It really spoiled the whole experience.
I would strongly recommend ensuring all cameras, phones, etc. are FULLY charged before going there as there was only power and one outlet for a few hours. Also recommend packing a flashlight and insect repellent. It was windy when we were there (scarves are worn for more than decoration), and sand got everywhere--including our camera lenses.