The weekend: Spend a long weekend on the central western Atlantic coast of Morocco, a region that combines the old town charm of El Jadida – formerly named El Mazagan – and the luxury of the five-star Mazagan Beach Resort complex. The micro-climate here offers pleasant weather year-round, but with tourism still in its ascendancy there’s no need to worry about vying for elbow room with the sun-seekers.
What to do: You’ll find no shortage of activities at the resort: yoga, spa and fitness, horse-riding and quad bikes on the beach, karting, visiting bunnies at the petting farm, belly-dancing over dinner and gambling in north Africa’s largest casino. There’s golf – the resort features a Gary Player designed course right on the beach – as well as a hammam in which you can steam and scrub away your veneer of London grime.
The rooms: Mazagan is vast enough that my companion and I got lost several times trying to find our rooms (and this was before cocktail hour had even started). The hotel is built around a central Grand Riad with an outdoor pool, restaurant and ice-cream parlour for the warmer months. Surrounding the Riad in this $370m development is a winding network of rooms stretching out along the beachfront. Most have wonderful views.
The golf: The course is a major draw for many visitors and is wonderfully situated, the 18 holes following the undulating patterns of the natural sand dunes. Not that I was paying much attention. My golfing companions – Scots who know their golf – reported back positively from the course and clubhouse while I got on with the important business of rejuvenating in the wonderful spa. I opted for a lengthy steam in the marble hammam followed by a full body massage and emerged feeling suitably other worldly. For those with tougher hides to tackle, a thorough body scrub is available.
The food: There are several restaurants on-site at Mazagan offering a high standard of food across several cuisines. The Moroccan, as you would expect, featured tagines and couscous galore, and at my special request the most exquisite little lamb cutlets, which our table happily fought over. Don’t bother coming over all English when the obligatory belly dancer stops by your table, just go with the flow and, if you’ve had enough Moroccan wine, trade a few shoulder shimmies.
And then? Venturing outside of the resort, a walking tour of El Jadida is a great way to discover this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ramparts are courtesy of the Portuguese, who are also to thank for the impressive cistern, a beautiful and atmospheric 16th century construction built to hold the city’s water reserves. After the Portuguese absconded in 1769, the cistern slowly fell into disrepair and disuse and was eventually sealed up and hidden behind the shop fronts of the souk, only to be uncovered when a shopkeeper needed more space for his wares.
Need to know: Royal Air Maroc flies from Gatwick to Casablanca; visit royalairmaroc.com. Prices at Mazagan start from around £150 a night for a Deluxe Pool View Room. Visit mazaganbeachresort.com