Hotel Review: Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort, El Jadida (Casablanca) in Morocco
Five-star Mazagan cost £300 million to build. Spearheaded by the King of Morocco, the luxury riad is just one phase of a project aiming to put the “previously unexplored” coastal region of El Jadida at the top of tourist agenda.
Covering 250-hectares, the beach and golf resort is truly expansive. Lush green grass spills on either side of driveways lined with topiary bushes planted and pruned with meticulous uniformity.
Oozing elegance and extravagance, Mazagan exists in its own shimmering bubble. Smooth stone corridors surround a symmetrical courtyard centrepiece. It’s sleek and modern, with spatters of Moorish influences in the patchwork tiles and carved wood lattices.
It is possible to occupy days at Mazagan without leaving the complex. There is an 18-hole golf course designed by Gary Player, the largest casino in north Africa and even a petting farm with goats and rabbits and peacocks.
We trot some of the finest Arab horses to the beach. Galloping down the sand at the water’s edge is a tick off the bucket list. At the go-kart track, most of the group whizz round tight bends (I quickly career into a wall). Meanwhile the Mazagan representative performs seemingly death defying stunts to take photos of our high speed action – one of many occasions when the staff team prove their utter willingness to please guests.
There is a choice of pools, but a tempered sky threatens all plans to swim. Instead we opt for poolside cocktails, where a barman with a magnetic charm – and an apparent obsession for creme de menthe – mixes up some bespoke yet all minty concoctions. We leave with a hiccup in a deliciously heady fuzz.
It’s around the world in 80 mouthfuls at the Market Place evening buffet, with curries and sushi and noodles and roasted meats. Taking centerstage is a chocolate fountain, where dessert miniatures are smothered in sweet gooey goodness.
Or guests can choose from one of ten à la carte restaurants, each cooking up a region’s delicacies. One of these is, of course, a Moroccan serving slow-cooked tagines with flatbreads and couscous, accompanied by the obligatory belly dancers.
Breakfast is equally vast, but this time there is no sign of the chocolate fountain. My already straining waistband is thankful for this, despite my initial twang of disappointment.
In the next day’s sunshine, a short wander brings us to the spa. There, a massage and a scrub leaves skin blushed and tingling. Despite the previous evening’s excess, whilst supping green tea on a lounger overlooking the ocean, I feel positively iridescent.
With 500 rooms and suites, the cavernous corridors descend identically in numerous directions, making navigation a little mind-boggling. Once located, my room proves to be bright and airy, with a French balcony that offers views across the grounds and ocean.
Yet there are only minimal hints of the north African context; the metalwork around the light fitting nods to its more traditional counterpart. So it feels a little stripped of its locality. Given the richness of Morocco’s offering, this is a shame. But nevertheless, the room ticks the whole checklist of high-end must-haves: fluffy pillows, fluffy towels and a soft fluffy carpet underfoot.
The bathroom is sparkling and spacious, with an array of cleansing miniatures including plenty of bubbles for the bath. With both a full-size tub and one of those luxury showers with spraying jets at all angles, it’s a miracle I ever made it out in the morning! But with so much to do at Mazagan, from the full throttle to the feet up, the temptation to explore is impossible to ignore.
Where those manicured lawns finish, the dust and delights and day-to-day drama of Moroccan life begins. The neighbouring port city of El Jadida – meaning “the new” – is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. A key trading route between India and Europe, it was colonised by the Portugese and known as El Mazagan until the mid 18th century. The cistern is an architectural highlight; a gothic underground chamber where the sound of dripping water reverberates and rippling reflections are a photographer’s dream.
Back in the daylight, a popular souk is filled with all the beguiling mayhem no venture to Morocco should be without. There are perfectly coiffed piles of spices all ambers and reds, people in djellabas sipping mint tea and donkey-drawn carts clattering down the streets. It is more than enough to satisfy cultural cravings, before retreating to the sweet sanctuary of Mazagan.
IN A NUTSHELL
The beach resort was built to be a stand alone draw for tourists. For those seeking polished decadence, it will exceed expectations. Rates start from £173 for a double room on a bed and breakfast basis.
Address: Mazagan Beach Resort, 24000 El Jadida (Casablanca), Morocco
Tel: +212 5 2338 8000