Home of the Week: This Magnificent Moroccan-Inspired California Estate Can Be Yours for $18 Million

You don’t have to travel to Morocco to get a taste of the North African country’s fabulous riads. Instead, you can head on out to Palm Desert, California, where a Moroccan-inspired mansion known as Casbah Cove has come to market for a cool $18 million, making it the most expensive home on the market in the affluent Coachella Valley town.

The seller is e-cigarette-turned-fitness entrepreneur and successful venture capitalist Howard Panes, who is selling the riad-inspired residence after relocating to Florida. The East Coast native was initially drawn to the desert for its tranquility and proximity to the area’s healthy, fitness-based activities, and he eventually settled into Bighorn Golf Club, an exclusive residential resort community with multiple golf courses and restaurants. It even has its own Starbucks within its guarded gates.

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Bighorn Development Morocco Palm Desert
An open-air second-floor lounge overlooks the central courtyard.

There are hundreds of luxurious homes situated within the rocky desert landscape or edged against the mountains around Palm Desert and the Coachella Valley, but few compare to Casbah Cove. “We toured more than 50 homes, but the most spectacular feeling in the world I had was when I walked into this property,” Howard Panes tells Robb Report. “I couldn’t believe the type of craftsmanship that went into the property. I’ve never seen anything like it in all of the U.S.”

Renowned local architect and designer Gordon Stein is responsible for designing the home alongside the original owner. It was completed in 2011 and took more than five years to build. And with all the bespoke tile work and intricate plaster details, it’s easy to see why. While honoring the original Moroccan aesthetic, Panes has made several updates and upgrades to the property since he bought it in 2022. Spanning 12,925 square feet, the spacious home has five bedrooms and seven bathrooms.

Bighorn Development Morocco Palm Desert
The courtyard has a star-shaped water feature below a retractable glass ceiling.

The original owner flew in more than 20 Moroccan artisans from Fez to install hand-made tile throughout the entire home, as well as to create the intricate plasterwork showcased in several rooms and the central courtyard. There’s a 24K gold-leaf ceiling in the entryway, eight intricate Moorish-style fireplaces and star-shaped skylights throughout.

“The first thing I thought when I walked in the doors was, ‘I have to have this,’” he says. “Only 14 years ago, I had nothing. That was the part that was really powerful when I bought it. There’s a lot of magic in this house. It has a magical energy, and putting it up for sale is a tough thing for me, but I just don’t use it as much.”

Bighorn Development Morocco Palm Desert
The primary bedroom is a serene space with a unique fire feature set at the base of a floor-to-ceiling window.

A testament to architecture and design derring-do, the home pairs traditional Moorish design with contemporary features and modern-day creature comforts. At the center of the home is a lushly planted courtyard with a star-shaped fountain, and as is common in riads, several reception rooms and bedrooms open off of it. An open-air lounge on the second floor overlooks the courtyard, over which is a one-of-a-kind retractable glass ceiling that cost nearly $1 million to install.

“After a few decades of being in the real estate business, this is by far the most detailed property we’ve ever sold,” says listing agent Stewart Smith, who is co-listing with Patrick V. Jordan, both of the PS Properties team at Bennion Deville Homes/Luxury Portfolio International. “This certainly exceeds the rest.”

Bighorn Development Morocco Palm Desert
In a breezy outdoor lounge, a cushioned platform sits between a massive fireplace and the saltwater swimming pool.

Among the most striking features is the funky island in the kitchen, with curvy sides to create a sculptural aesthetic. And in the primary suite (because why not?), there’s a built-in champagne ice bucket integrated into the tub in the attached bathroom.

Additional features include a 20-seat hookah lounge, which doubles as an outdoor theater with a retractable screen, a Moroccan-style hammam, a media room, a wine cellar, and an office. Among the patios and gardens are a 75-foot black granite-lined saltwater pool and a second, Roman-inspired round pool. There’s even a separate guest house. Finally, there are incredible views of the desert landscape and Santa Rosa mountains from nearly every point on the property.

Click here for more photos of Casbah Cove.

Bighorn Development Morocco Palm Desert
Bighorn Development Morocco Palm Desert

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