Advantages Lovely hotel, fun and quiet, great beach
Disadvantages Not really worth 5 stars, bit isolated, not family friendly
|Value for Money|
|Quality of Rooms|
|Standard of Service|
|Quality of Food & Drink|
|Quality of Facilities|
**Introduction**Up-and-coming Agadir is a coastal holiday town which reflects much of the best Morocco has to offer tourists and is also a convenient jumping off place to other locations like the ancient city of Marrakesh or the World Heritage site at Essaouira, with its charming and fascinating Portuguese remains.
Last in a row of premium hotels, the striking 5-star Sofitel Agadir on Baie des Palmiers is a large, purpose built property which was designed to impress and does.
Agadir has a royal palace nearby, HM the King having chosen to be nearby when he is visiting: But the Sofitel Agadir has the direct beachfront access!
Agadir is on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, about 2/3rds of the way down the country and is regarded by Moroccans as being 'in the south'. The Spanish Canary Islands are off the coast of Morocco and just a little further south. There are also international airports in Marrakesh and Essaouira; although both of these cities are about 2 hours drive away. There is no rail system in this part of Morocco.Agadir was substantially destroyed by an earthquake in 1960 with a tragic loss of life, and little remains from the city before this date: Unlike Marrakesh or Tangiers, this is not a city where you bump into the past around every corner. On the positive side, the city fathers took the opportunity to allow open spaces, parks and wide avenues in the rebuilt city, which is more European feeling than other North African cities I have visited: This is good and bad, of course - there is little sense of place. There is quite a sprawl of development and the Sofitel Agadir is at the end of the row of beachfront hotels (although another is already being built beyond it) and this also means that you are a long way from 'downtown'. Actually, again because of the history and the way the new city has evolved, there is no single 'downtown' but rather a series of shopping and eating areas. In any event, you will need to make use of the small taxis fairly regularly (there are large and small - grande and petit - more about this later: They are inexpensive). The main areas of town are about 10km away.
**Accommodation**The hotel advertises that it has 273 guest rooms including a number of suites, some located away from the main hotel proper and at the top of the beach (between the beach and the hotel pool). Some of these rooms looked to be under renovation when I visited in October 2007. The majority of these rooms have one King size bed or two generous singles. In a clever design feature, none of the rooms face the road at the back of the hotel so most of the rooms will have at least a pool view or possibly a pool and sea view. All rooms are en suite, with at least a bath with shower over, twin wash-hand basins, toilet and bidet.
My bed was comfortable with super smooth and welcoming white linen. Fresh towels every day (although they were not very fluffy!) and a high standard of cleanliness made this a comfortable place. Some time was spent on frills which did not add much (like twisting the bath mat into some sort of strangled lily shape and tying up the arms of the bathrobes every day - why?) but all in all it was pleasant. A large opaque window in the wall between the bedroom and bathroom allowed natural light into the otherwise internal bathroom, but it would not be to everyone's taste, I suspect.Very good (Roger & Gallet) complimentary soap, shampoo and body lotions were generously supplied every day. I was in a deluxe room which had mini bar, air con/heating, room safe, TV and a balcony - some rooms, especially in the side wings, had a small terrace instead. The room type I had booked was not supplied and I had to move rooms twice before it got sorted, but it was sorted within 30 minutes of check in. The mini bar was not cold enough (you could not make ice) and was HUGELY expensive - a little bottle of water was more than 20 times the price of bottled water in the nearest shop outside the hotel. I don't mind paying a mark-up and I will pay for the service, but this was just gouging.
The TV was a bit of a disappointment to me, featuring only BBC World and CNN in English - in a hotel of this standard, I would have been expecting at least the Discovery Channel and/or National Geographic, if not a few additional satellite channels.The room were fairly quiet although on a couple of evenings there was entertainment on the pool terrace under my room and I therefore had to 'enjoy' it whether I wanted to or not. Also, lots of people called, so a nap during the day was difficult - the chamber maid, the man with the chocolate in the late afternoon, the man to see if you had used the mini bar, the man who came to do a turn-down (once or twice) and who knows who else? There may have been a man whose job it was to tie up the arms of the bathrobe, maybe - it was certainly done everyday. Nice touches, like rose petals on the bed one evening, were slightly spoiled by too much aimless fuss.
There is Wi-Fi access in the hotel although I could find no information about it in the room. Actually, all the information in the room, including the Room Service menu and everything else, was presented only in French. I was able to understand most things, but I may have missed the fine details on a few items.**Cost**
This is a luxury resort and spa hotel but is cheaper than many others. Indeed, this will probably be cheaper than a far less grand hotel elsewhere, say London or Paris. It is not cheap, as such, and you can certainly find cheaper in Morocco, but this is quite affordable luxury. My partner and I stayed 7 nights on a package holiday on a half board basis, in a deluxe room and including direct flights from our local airport and all in-country transfers and the cost in total was less than £1600 - not bad for a week in a 5-star. This did include things like the gym, beach towels and so on but did not include any drinks (or even water), any water sports or spa treatments. Also, dinner was only available from one restaurant, eating in any of the other restaurants attracting a minimum £13 pppn supplement. The restaurant we were able to use was the buffet style 'Le Caravane'.Sofitel offer a loyalty program and you can earn points here or indeed spend accumulated points here.
**Arrival and departure**As standard, check in is a 2pm and check out at 12 noon. I arrived in the late afternoon and was quite quickly processed. There is a lot of staff on hand and many willing staff from the Concierge team to take your case. They also offered the chance to sit in the middle of the large reception area/public space (made up like a huge fantasy tent) and complete check-in formalities there. The front of the hotel is closed and there are security guards - obviously, there have been some (isolated) terrorist incidents in Morocco and visible efforts are being made to protect locals and visitors from harm.
HM The King of Morocco is on record acknowledging how important to his country the tourist income is and most Moroccans I encounter on this and my previous visits were welcoming and seemed genuinely pleased to meet you.As I said earlier, having passed through the dramatic entrance into the main reception/public space area, you are struck by the flowers and fountains, the full size palm trees growing inside and the tented effect that makes it feel as if you are in a desert encampment of some Arab potentate: It is a fun space and certainly tells you that you are away from home and somewhere special. At night, the whole area is filled with candles and it is quite an atmosphere. Also, in a nice touch, someone fills the pools with fresh rose heads every night, so every morning when you go downstairs, the pools are glowing with the colour of fresh blooms.
The effect of the whole reception area is fun, being both modern and stylish and also giving strong suggestions of a mid east and African history.At night, there was 'entertainment' in the reception area pretty much every evening, a singer and a band or a group of men playing Spanish-type guitar. It was OK and rather loud.
**Activities and things to see and do around**This falls into two main categories - within the hotel complex and outside it.
**Marrakesh and Essaouira**As I said before, these cities do provide a lot more history and it is worth taking a day trip or even an overnight trip to visit one or both. Along the way, look out for the tree-climbing goats who have worked out how to climb the Argan trees to get the fruit.
**Restaurants and the shops**There are no restaurants right outside the hotel and the nearest are only the ones in the four star hotels next door. There are some restaurants a little further away, but you are looking at a 30 minute walk at least. A small taxi will take you for about £1.50.
All guests at the hotel get a bed and breakfast rate and the breakfast, served in the 'La Caravane' restaurant, was fine. Cereal, fruit, continental cold meats and cheeses, salads, breads, rolls and cakes, cooked eggs, crepes, yoghurt - there was something for most people. Good fresh juice, nice coffee and rotten tea - oh well, no-one is perfect.Lunch was served at the posh fish restaurant in the hotel (Las Nasse) - pricey, at about £20 plus. La Caravane was closed at lunchtime. The pool bar/restaurant (Le Grill des Dunes) also served lunch with some lighter and cheaper options including pizza, beef or chicken burger and the like, more reasonably priced at about £10 a head. You could certainly eat out for less if you could be bothered to leave the complex. This venue was closed in the evening, at least when I was visiting.
Dinner in La Caravane was buffet and self service again, with a variety of hot and cold dishes, or the fish restaurant was open - and serving fish!There was a small non-smoking area in La Caravane but everywhere else, including most (maybe all) of the hotel rooms was available for smokers. This was a disappointment for me and the smoke did interfere with my meals a little once or twice.
As well as the golf shop I mentioned earlier, there were a couple of other shops in the hotel. One sold expensive locally made furniture, one sold expensively made local jewellery, one sold expensive, locally made clothes…and one sold expensive junk like spa slippers, spa towelling robes and imported newspapers, mainly French.
Wi-fi is available, there was a currency exchange at reception and also a cash machine, the main bar (next to the fish restaurant) bizarrely advertised itself as a location for Cuban and Havana cigar smoking with lots of pictures of women handling large cigars (although as Sigmund is reported to have said "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar").There is room service although I did not use it. The menu did not have much on it (and was all in French anyway). There are the usual range of business services available including meeting rooms, copy and print services and so on.
There is advertising for a disco, but I think it may be high season only (maybe outdoor) - it was not open when I was there.**And finally…**
**Hotel contact details**
BP 226 Cité Founty P4 Baie des Palmiers Commune de Bensergao 80007 AGADIR, MOROCCO
(+212)28/820088 - (+212)28/820033
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