Morocco has announced it will reopen to tourism. Avoid the obvious and head to Essaouira on Morocco’s Atlantic coast. Essaouira is Morocco’s free-spirited and relaxed destination and like nowhere else in this country. It can almost be considered an exclusive destination given the number of direct flights into this port city. But UK residents are among the lucky ones with direct London – Essaouira flights starting in March. Otherwise connect via Marrakech with regular coach services or hotel transfers.
Le Jardin des Douars is the leading independent hotel in Essaouira. Run by husband and wife team Grégoire and Nanie Aubron and their team, this destination hotel offers individually designed bedrooms, suites and villas. During the lockdown, Le Jardin de Douars refurbished all bedrooms and unveiled three new luxury villas. The bedrooms and villas all feature locally designed furniture which has been created alongside colourful fabrics and unique pieces of art that best represent the breezy and spacious atmosphere.
Le Jardin des Douars is also home to two outdoor heated swimming pools, one for families and one for adults only. Dining is taken seriously at Le Jardin des Douars with three individually designed dining areas including a vibrant open plan restaurant, a ‘couples’ dining room and alfresco dining on the terrace. The hotel is also home to its own hammam and spa where qualified therapists perform the traditional hammam ritual and various body and face spa treatments using argan oil, produced in this part of Morocco.
What also makes this hotel truly unique is its lush botanical gardens. These gardens alone draw guests to explore the vegetation and tropical plants and trees. Those with garden knowledge may spot the various phoenix canariensis or the butia capitata, callistermon linearis or the sabal pamettos. If these are hard to find just ask one of the many gardeners who enjoy interacting with guests as they maintain these gardens. The resident tortoises and peacocks are sure to also highlight hidden parts of the gardens as they roam freely around Le Jardin des Douars adding to the unique charm of this property with views of argan-studded hills.
If guests can draw themselves away from Le Jardin des Douars, located in the Essaouira hills overlooking the Ksob River, then a shuttle service offers beach, dunes, medina, hills and vineyards expeditions. The two most famous shuttle destinations are Essaouira’s main beach and Essaouira’s Medina, both around 12 minutes from Le Jardin des Douars.
Essaouira’s walled medina is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here visitors will discover the most laid-back medina in Morocco, compared to larger towns and cities. Fans of both ‘Game of Thrones’ the television drama and ‘Othello’ the film, may recognise the labyrinth of streets.
Close to the medina is the famous port. Essaouira’s outdoor fish grill stands are a lively option for lunch. Located here at the port, the laid-back stands sit side-by-side and offer a truly unique dining experience. Visitors simply select from a selection of freshly caught fish, this is then cooked on the grill and served with salad and bread.
With around 320 days of sunshine per year, Essaouira is an ideal year-round outdoor destination. Guests can head to the beach to relax or enjoy surfing and kite surfing. Ocean Vagabond on the beach is one of the coolest and most affordable places to dine whilst watching the waves. The laid-back terrace is the perfect backdrop after a day learning to surf or kite surf with an instructor. The winds that blow on Essaouira bay provide the ideal atmosphere for beginners.
Nature may not be the first thing that springs to mind when planning a visit to Essaouira. But, Essaouira is home to the famous Argan trees found across forests just inland from the Atlantic coast. The Argan is a true symbol of the region surrounding Essaouira. Southwest Morocco produces this highly prized oil which is extracted from nuts and these have been used across the world in beauty products and spa treatments. How about finding out about the origins of the Argan tree and exploring the Moroccan countryside? Jardin des Douars can organise guided tours with an expert.
Moroccan wines are becoming more popular and wine tourism is a slowly growing trend in this part of the country. Morocco produces a surprising amount of wine and visitors can head to Le Domaine du Val d’Argan, a biodynamic vineyard which is located around 20 minutes from Le Jardin des Douars. This can be organised with prior permission for a vineyard tour.
With years of local relationships working with the very best people in Essaouira, Le Jardin des Douars can organise additional active experiences in Essaouira including camel rides, horse riding, quad biking and cookery classes.