THE NEWEST GOLF RESORT IN AFRICA HAS RAISED THE BAR
*Romantic golfing holidays: Sumptuous accommodations in an intimate ambience overlooking the beach, plus fine dining on and off the resort and a variety of fascinating sight-seeing opportunities.
*Family-friendly holidays with golf in situ: A collection of two bedroomed villas, each with a pool and with the beach nearby, mean that the resort is an agreeable destination for a family friendly holiday about which golfers will wax lyrical.
WELCOME TO MAGICAL MOGADOR IN MYSTICAL MOROCCO
It would be easy to become over-excited about the Sofitel Mogador resort in Morocco, so a few deep breaths are in order here, to get the pulse rate under control.
Let's say simply that it may be the finest golf resort in North Africa and some way beyond, a place where superlatives become redundant. Yup, it's as good as that...
Opened in March 2011, it has raised the bar almost beyond sight for its competitors. It is an astonishing creation in superior hospitality with incomparable facilities and service. Hidden away in a gated estate, it is safe and secure, romantic and private yet convenient for the nearby town.
Situated on an ocean-front estate of 1,500 acres a short drive from the charming resort town of Essaouira mid-way down Morocco's 2,000 mile Atlantic coastline, Mogador is three hours by road north of Agadir and 40 minutes by air from Casablanca, the nation's main airport hub. Those seeking a romantic hide-away, with world-class golf and accommodations, need look no further. This is the place you've been searching for.
The region boasts 300 days of sunshine a year with average temperatures seldom lower than 25C and rarely higher than 30C. Atlantic breezes temper the hottest days and the under-populated beaches are a golden bonus to the multifarious attractions that await the holiday-maker.
With its medina, town shopping and some fascinating restaurants, the beach-side town of Essaouira deserves close attention but our focus here is the new resort a short drive away. Lacking a golf course, it would still reward investigation: the one in situ completes an unforgettable combination. Go once and you'll be hooked.
*The resort's accommodations
The hotel is regal, the golf course a sublime example of the architect's art, in this case that of Gary Player. More on this anon.
The hotel first: it is a low profile -- only three storeys -- of 147 rooms overlooking the ocean and with 26 two bedroomed villas in the grounds for those seeking the ultimate privacy. The public areas are similarly appealing. There's a spa and a gym and swimming pools with areas for sitting and socialising.
The hotel's standard bedrooms are all minor suites where no detail has been overlooked. Each opens onto a spacious balcony giving views over the gardens that run down to the beach, no more than a seven iron away. At one end of the hotel is the spa; nearby is the golf clubhouse. Both are models.
This is one of the finest hotels I've known in many years of international travel. Sumptuous is an ineffectual adjective..The ambience, like the level of service, beggars description.
*The golf course
The course, too, is close to perfection, arguably one of the finest resort courses in the world. It is challenging, rewarding and demanding but fair. It is strategic rather than penal, as a resort course should be and as usual with Gary Player's creations.
Big targets abound: wide fairways, expansive greens but equally large bunkers for those who stray. There's ample lateral and vertical movement to provide variety and it is all in a wooded setting with the sea as a backdrop. From where the tigers prowl the card reads 7,213 yards (6,558 metres) to a par of 72, but there are six sets of tees, three each for men and women, to cater for all levels of ability.
The condition and presentation is flawless. The tees resemble some greens we've seen recently; the bunkers are pristine, the greens true but slick and with just enough movement to demand your full attention. Imagination and sound course management will pay dividends and a sound short game and a hot putter will help, too. Patience is a virtue here: take your time with the shortest putt and, above all, be positive.
Stand on the first tee and it will be obvious that a treat is in store. True to the accepted philosophy that a sound opening hole calls for simplicity of design with everything in view, this par four is a classic and a preamble to a course of lilting tempo that brings fun and challenge in equal measure. It is the perfect resort course.
Caddies and golf carts are both available. A bonus for the future: a second course is under construction.
Golf is not the only sport on offer at Mogador. There are swimming pools and you may also enjoy tennis, squash, kite surfing, windsurfing and horse-riding. For those on a family holiday there's a supervised club to look after your children.
*Where to dine in the hotel
*When to go: The region is on a similar latitude to the Canary Isles and enjoys a comparable climate. Thus the year-round temperature varies by only a few degrees, seldom falling below 24C during the day or rising above 30c. Just about any time of year would be perfect, for golf or the family.
*How to get there
Contact us (below) for details of rates, reservations and recommended tour operators.