Chilly fall days and I’m pining for more Beach Therapy in Morocco, near the small area of Agadir. The fabulous Fairmont Taghazout Bay is plopped right on the ocean cliff, providing miles of beach walking, a surfer’s paradise, and divine dining. What’s not to love?
The Fairmont is a unique resort overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, where memories are created. A luxury five-star wellness resort nestled on the cliff above the Atlantic, Agadir is often overshadowed by Morocco’s Imperial cities; I would love to return for a few days at this beautiful resort.
The warm climate tempered by the ocean makes Taghazout Bay the idyllic spot to unwind and enjoy exquisite relaxing days. The resort offers 146 rooms, suites and villas all overlooking the ocean. A large selection of Deluxe and Fairmont Gold rooms and Suites in addition to four signature villas of two, three, four and five bedrooms are available for guests. Also noted on the Condé Nast Hot List 2022, the bright and breezy property is an absolute delight.
Forty-five sun baked beach acres to explore, miles of sandy beach to stroll at dawn and again at sunset. The low-rise buildings on the cliff are constructed of local stone and wood which blends flawlessly with the desert-like atmosphere, perched on one of Morocco’s most pristine coastlines. Long treasured by the yoga and surfer set, it is the place to stay along the coast. Rumors of a new Royal Mansour property financed by the Royal family denotes Dirhams are moving to the beach!
Gleaming floor-to-ceiling windows bring the intensely blue sunshine into rooms and public spaces highlighting contemporary Moroccan handcrafts and furniture. All doors seem to open onto comfortable, shaded terraces, or sunken gardens, scented by the herbs and flowers that eventually make their way into your cocktail. Wake and fall asleep to the soothing sound and scent of the sea. Royal Moroccan Blue is a dominant theme in the locally sourced glassware, metal work and fabric. I loved the serene colors of my spacious suite, an important design maxim: don’t compete with nature, the Fairmont sits amid one of the most beautiful beaches on the coast.
This is not Marrakech; the style reflects the cultural tribal style of the Agadir region. The designers were inspired by the dwellings of the semi-nomadic Imazighe people – known as the Berbers – rather than the riad style of architecture in the bustling city markets. A strong sense of place exudes from suites, villas and public spaces.
A beach walk will yield ponies, surfers and spirited football matches by locals, some playing barefoot! Don’t be surprised if you see a sauntering camel on the beach or a pack of pups on a day long beach outing, chasing birds at the edge of the rolling surf.
Two granite-lined pools – one for families, the other adults-only complete with swim-up bar and four-poster day beds discreetly veiled by purple-tinged elephant grass and fragrant lavender. Gnarled Olive trees line the paths, at night, the lights are magical, subtle garden lighting for romance and star gazing.
A spa spread over two levels offers traditional Moroccan beauty rituals, several massage rooms, a yoga studio, hammam and salt-water pools. Don’t ever say no to a Moroccan hammam, I am addicted to the soothing scrubs!
A boardwalk runs from an iconic surf break at Devils Point along the length of the beach, and a carefully curated program of locally immersive activities ranges from surf and yoga workshops to visits to Argan oil co-operatives, hiking in the Anti-Atlas’ hidden valleys and sunset fishing trips.
Dress for Dinner at Morimoto, his first Africa outpost, another reason to escape to the Fairmont! Morimoto is a Japanese restaurant designed in a stylish upbeat space offering world class international experiences with immersive dining and fresh ingredients in a dramatic sophisticated setting. Outside dining with music and sexy lighting with views over the garden, so yummy, I dined twice!
Highly Recommend a few days at this exquisite environment if you are roaming on a Camel Caravan through Morocco!
Exploring more of Morocco, focused on the countryside, the ocean and hidden gardens, my Camel Caravan Chapter Two departed Marrakech on a cold drizzly March morning, headed to Dar al Hossoun in Taroudant. Taroudant is a former capital of Morocco, built by the Saadian dynasty as a base to attack the Portuguese on the Atlantic Coast, eventually the capital was moved to Marrakech. The thick city walls built in 1528, are almost completely intact. Geographically, it’s directly south of Marrakech, and about a 3-hour drive. From the coast of Agadir, draw a line directly east to run into Taroudant. A little unhurried Berber town, it can be over-looked by many tourists, perfect for me! Imagine the caravan route dotted with surprising enclaves, don’t dismiss these little hidden gems.
On a rainy muddy day, the outlying area did not appear promising, it was already mid-day, and as we hesitantly drove through a rutted flooded dirt road, my protests became more animated. We must be lost, hoping my never to get lost driver might concede. There is nothing suitable here for anyone, I lamented. We should turn around. And then like so often in Morocco, we came upon a massive metal gate with a small sign Dar al Hossoun, pressed an obscure button, waited and the gate rumbled open to a concealed riad.
A Seventy-two-day Caravan traversing winter and spring, a camel would collapse with my massive baggage! In the cozy office I asked if there was an extra room for my trusted driver, he who would be touring with me the next few days. I’ve learned its best to keep driver nearby and viewing the bleak muddy neighborhood, I was adamant. Plus, I am often the only person who doesn’t speak French…driver wears at least 24 hats, translator is merely one hat. Case in point, one of the two men in the office only spoke French.
Lunch – please! Amble over a stone path to an upstairs glass salon amid an amazing garden. A welcome fire burned, cozy chairs, fluffy window seats propped with colorful pillows. Pure white tablecloths sprinkled with white bougainvillea blossoms; it was enchanting! Who was sniveling to turn around just moments ago?
Moroccan hospitality is legendary, platters of olives, baskets of warm bread and house olive oil were artfully placed on the white blossom strewn tablecloth. Mushroom Risotto is the perfect rainy day comfort food, combined with Champagne, water-logged roads forgotten!
I counted at least 5 cats mewing and peering in the glass walls, sunshine and birds appeared. The garden appeared massive, the cobble stone walk was lined with immense pots of greenery and quirky sculpture, a long narrow pool reflected swaying bamboo, exotic palms, banana plants and brilliant red blossoms. An abundance of tropical greenery intermixed with ancient cactus.
At first glance, this was an overgrown jungle of sorts. Later to discover it is a well-defined ancient garden created by two French garden masters. Designed by the world acclaimed landscape architects Eric Ossart and Arnaud Maurières, Dar al Hossoun’s prestigious gardens are bursting with all types of unusual and rare desert vegetation. The two landscape architects collected plants in their extended travels in many deserts and dry areas around the world. The garden holds some of the most rare and interesting plants in the world. International Garden Club members flock here in caravans.
Dar al Hossoun has an extensive assortment of kalanchoes, agaves, aloes, cacti and euphorbias, a truly unique collection – some of the enormous cacti are 40 feet high, reaching to the sky like giant wild sculptures. The property is divided into several gardens, the sunken garden teeming with palms, shade the heat sensitive plants below, it’s a natural form of low water gardening.
The sixteen rooms and suites are dotted throughout the rambling property, from the central overgrown terrace to the fragrant citrus garden. Each room is unique, all are decorated with locally made shaggy rugs, vibrant woven Moroccan kilims and thick blankets in bright hues and prints, original art, and handcrafted local celadon glazed ceramics. Multiple areas of secret garden seating in courtyards and elevated terraces, bins of logs are stocked for warm fires in the chilly evenings.
The rooms and rambling buildings blend traditional and modern aesthetics, the property was crafted by local artisans utilizing raw natural materials and ancient building techniques. The owner, a collector of everything and a master of staging. There is something interesting to catch your eye in every corner inside and outside.
Many of the rooms have shallow fireplaces which are tended to every night and morning by a man who just builds fires, he visited my little fireplace often which kept my living room cozy and warm.
My upstairs suite had a massive terrace overlooking one of the two pools. Furnished with loungers and chairs, it would be a delightful haven during warm weather. Cats curled up outside, a pride of peacock’s strut and called out from an upper rooftop. Initially, I was convinced a mewing cat was stuck in my suite, until I realized it was the call of the peacocks.
Touring nearby: the city of Taroudant has the feel of a small fortified market town on a caravan route and is known for its local crafts, including jewelry and carpets. Unlike Marrakesh, almost the entire town is located inside its walls. Visit the medina and ramparts in a horse-drawn carriage before returning to the riad for an afternoon nap. Moroccans love their naps and I’ve become a convert!
The late Chilean hyperrealist artist Claudio Bravo built a superb palace Palais Claudio Bravo Camus, in the countryside near the riad. The palace features Bravo’s work, multiple collections as well as pieces by his artist friends, including Picasso. We visited the beautifully furnished interiors and the courtyard with gardens meandering to the lake for tea and exquisite views. As if it were another century, two very large, majestic horses trotted around the lake.
With its stunning gardens, Dar Al Hossoun is a haven of tranquility near the medieval town. The age-old ochre ramparts of Taroudant are a mere five-minute drive away. Surrounded by swathes of ancient olive groves the quaint riad blends with the landscape.
The property has a wonderfully serene atmosphere, with multiple indoor and outdoor areas to relax and contemplate your Journey. Alfresco naps amid the fragrant jasmine, or on the edge of one of the gin-clear swimming pools, or in the interconnecting garden of the enormous, rare cactus. There is a spa onsite offering clay wraps and massages, while those feeling more adventuresome can venture outside the gates for hikes, bike rides or visits to authentic Berber villages.
Meals: Breakfast is served until a leisurely 11 am in an upstairs dining room or alfresco on the terrace, or as I do, in bed. Seasonal fruit, warm from the oven bread, homemade jams, pastries, crepes and fresh eggs. The Moroccan-meets-Mediterranean lunch and dinner menus offer seasonal produce from the organic garden, grilled meat, fish, and Moroccan specialties such as tagines and couscous, steak and fish. The young chef was formerly at Morimoto’s. Have a poolside cocktail or champers in the garden under the sun or amid the palms under the st
I never dined in the same space. Arrival lunch was served in a glass box warmed by a wood fire, rain dribbling down the glass overlooking the sunken garden. Cocktails served every evening in the cozy bar, where we taught the bartender to make my summer sipper, an Aviation! One late night supper was served in a glorious salon warmed by a wood fire, the room decorated with antique African masks and pottery. It inspired hours of intimate conversation, the chef popped in to describe the menu, the owner visited to say hello, I didn’t want to depart!
Dar Al Hossoun is a magical hidden oasis, an hour’s drive from the Agadir international airport and three hours from Marrakech. No stoplights, no big-name hotels, no tiring tourist traffic, just a sleepy haven for relaxation amid a landscape of over 900 plant species, birdsong, strutting peacocks, and an abundance of friendly cats.
A plethora of outings, including the medieval forgotten fortress Iguiliz, an architectural heritage site, can be arranged by staff. Nestled in the foothills of the Anti-Atlas chain , an excursion offers you an opportunity to hike for hours on a mule track that leads to the bottom of a beautiful canyon. Palm groves of over 20,00 palms are located in Tiout, where Biblical landscapes, a rural pace of 7 hamlets and 300 families living nearby, in these centuries old groves. Enjoy a traditional lunch of Berber cuisine on carpets under a nomadic tent in the heart of the palm grove.
Don’t let a rainy muddy day dissuade you, there is a Garden of Eden paradise behind the bulky gates! Highly Recommend Dar Al Hossoun!