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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 every year.

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








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