The opening of several "designer" golf courses has put Morocco firmly on the golfing map - and it's a value destination that has much to offer.
In certain languages and dialects, Morocco is still known as “Marrakech” and in terms
of golf travel this city is fast becoming synonymous
with country, too. That’s not fair on some other
areas with great courses, such as Agadir, Rabat and
El Jadida. The trouble is, Marrakech’s golf resorts
are simply top drawer, and their number is growing
Marrakech has already seen the likes of Nicklaus
Design and Kyle Phillips – the innovation behind
Marrakech's relatively new Al Maaden course and
another in the area, Akenza, in the pipeline – entering
the fray. The imminent openings of the Atlas
and Assoufid resorts mean there will soon be no
less than seven world-class layouts to choose from
in this area. Combine that with a range of luxury
hotels in a city bursting with life, great weather and
a local culture strong enough to keep even ‘Full
English’ cafes and Irish Pubs at bay, and you have a
golf holiday destination made in heaven.
The growth of Moroccan golf resorts around
Marrakech, in particular, should be enough to make
certain overblown Mediterranean destinations
quiver. The Moroccan dirham (MAD) offers good value and flying time is just over three hours from
the UK airports (the likes of EasyJet, Thomson
Airways, RyanAir and British Airways offer a regular
service, while BMI and Royal Air Maroc both operate
several flights a day to Morocco and, unlike the others,
offer free carriage of golf clubs).
Once on the ground there are some dazzling
accommodation choices. If you want to stay outside
the city centre, it would be hard to better the stunning
Palmeraie Golf Palace on the western outskirts.
Your room will have views of the swimming pools,
the golf course and the Atlas Mountains rather than
Marrakech’s streets and squares. Alternatively, for a
fully-inclusive option, check out the Riu Tikida
Palmeraie, a few miles to the east of Marrakech.
This 4-star facility has great amenities such as
indoor and outdoor swimming pools, gym, Wellness
centre, and the opulent rooms come with private
terrace or balcony and luxurious en-suite bathrooms.
Plus the golf course in on the doorstep.
But if you need to be in the thick of the action,
you can’t beat the opulent Sofitel Hotel, located near
the world-famous Medina and Jemaa el Fna square
with its acrobats, belly dancers, musicians and food
stalls – it’s nothing short of an open-air restaurant
in the evening. In the mood for culture? It’s a short
hop to the Majorelle Gardens or Museum of Islamic
Art, or the imposing Koutoubia Mosque. You can
wander the souks and streets which are full of intertwining
passageways and local shops bursting with
character. And if you’re in the mood to party, worldrenowned
Pacha nightclub is nearby, offering an
evening (and morning!) every bit as good as those
on offer at its sister facilities in Ibiza, Madrid,
London and New York.
Another well-rated favourite hotel in central
Marrakech is the Kenzi Farah. It has a pristine
rooms and a welcoming, laid back atmosphere –
plus it is brilliant value for money. The same applies
to the Dellarosa Hotel, which blends traditional
Moroccan hospitality with modern amenities.
There’s a wonderful spa featuring Moroccan body treatments – and don’t miss out on the chance to
cool off in the outdoor swimming pool with its
views of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. It’s a
moment you’ll never forget.
The golf courses will stick in your mind, too.
Samanah Country Club (2009) is a strong 18-holer
penned by the Nicklaus' design group. It’s around
10 miles from the city centre but the flip side is you
get uninterrupted views of the spectacular, snowcapped
Atlas Mountains. It’s typically Nicklaus with
large undulating greens and wide fairways and great
fun to play. The Al Maaden Golf Resort is different
in style thanks to Kyle Phillips, the designer behind
classics such as Kingsbarns and Dundonald. Not
surprisingly perhaps, Al Maaden has a Scottish links
feel to it. It shouldn’t work, but somehow it does.
The Royal (next to the Al Maaden Golf Resort), is a
fine tree-lined course built in the 1920s that many
aficionados still rate as good as anything built more recently. Amelkis is a tough parkland gem of three
nines designed by Cabell Robinson featuring water
hazards, large bunkers and a kasbah style clubhouse.
Then there’s Robert Trent Jones’ classic,
Palmeraie, which runs through a beautiful valley
sprinkled with lakes, bunkers and palm trees.
If that’s not enough, the two newbies joining
Marrakech’s menagerie are every bit as accomplished.
Atlas Golf Resort, located east of the city, is
a challenging course set in the midst of palms and
olive trees and with beautiful views of the Atlas
Mountains, while Assoufid, part of a luxurious
Rocco Forte resort, features undulating countryside
with 80 spacious villas, a luxury hotel, clubhouse
and a golf academy on site.
They’re all helping to make Marrakech a unique
and great value golfing destination, one to be reckoned
with like never before. Take our word for it,
it’s time to forget the Euro and go MAD.
Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine