The five-star Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort is a Moorishstyle £300m mega-palace, built on a swathe of Atlantic coast by the South African hotels magnate Sol Kerzner.
The lavish décor, intricate gardens and authentic dining experiences give it a wonderfully exotic appeal, though the fresh salty air and epic surf crashing onto the four-and-a-half mile beach make it a far cry from Marrakech’s blistering heat.
While there are plenty of serene spaces to relax in the year-round sunshine as well as a vast spa, there are activities galore, adrenalin sports and plenty of adventures for the kids. The neighbouring cities of El Jadida and Casablanca make it an ideal base for sightseeing.
The 250-hectare resort encircles a Grand Riad, or courtyard, decorated with mosaic tiles, ornately carved doors and archways as well as hundreds of lanterns.
Around the huge central pool there are date palms, lavish water features, lush green lawns and decorative interior gardens.
Set over four floors, the 468 guest rooms, 20 suites, two executive suites and eight ambassador suites feature dark wood furniture and are finished with traditional Moroccan art and crafts from the local community.
FOOD & DRINK
With grand buffets, barbecues on the beachfront, traditional Moroccan cuisine and steaks cooked to order, dining is all part of the luxury experience.
For formal meals, there’s a choice of six restaurants, including the Morjana, which serves lamb tagines, seafood pastilla and harira (Moroccan soup) in an opulent setting bursting with rich colours and textures.
Seafood delicacies are beautifully presented in the soft blue glow of the elegant Sel de Mer restaurant.The stuffed crab starter and calamari carbonara are particular highlights.
Guests can also enjoy a specially prepared Moroccan dinner, while reclining on cushions and carpets inside a Berber tent.
Or simply soak up the beach life and chilled tunes down at the waterfront Buddha-Bar Beach with DJ, which specialises in lobster dumplings and sushi platters.
As the sun sets, the energy rises and the drinks flow.
Join the sun-worshippers on the plumped-up double loungers around the pool, then take a relaxing yoga or pilates class at the gym.
I couldn’t resist a morning beach ride on one of the hotel’s beautiful Barb stallions. Their sunset camel rides, meanwhile, are pure Moroccan magic.
If you’re looking to get the adrenaline pumping, a thrilling blast over the sand dunes on a quad bike or go-kart should do it.
The resort’s crowning glory is its award-winning, Gary Player-designed 18-hole golf course, which is the longest in Morocco. The Mazagan is also home to north Africa’s biggest casino.
There’s an action-packed list of options for kids too, including surf lessons, paint-balling, bike riding, pony rides, rock climbing and pizza-making sessions.
Or let them loose in the kids’ clubs and teen zones.
The spa at Mazagan offers 19 beauty rooms, some with views out to sea, as well as a mosaic and marble hammam including hot and cold saunas.
I opted for a full body massage using local and natural Nectarome products, but golfers might like the spa’s signature golfer’s massage, designed to improve swing and mobilise limbs.
The old port town of El Jadida, a Unesco World Heritage site with 16th-century fortified walls and cobbled streets, is a 20-minute drive away. Head through these very walls to shop for trinkets before pausing for a traditional coffee in one of the lanes.
On the other side of town, the souk selling colourful scarves, leather slippers, cheap kaftans, fruit and spices is a feast for the senses.
If you’re looking to travel further afield, Casablanca, Morocco’s largest city with its handsome Moorish buildings and creative buzz, is around 50 miles away.
Royal Air Maroc flies from Gatwick and Heathrow to Casablanca from £240 return. (royalairmaroc.com). Rooms at the Mazagan Beach Resort in Morocco cost from £140 a night B&B, including transfers (mazaganbeachresort.com). More info at visitmorocco.com/en
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